Learning Challenges

Remote Learning Loss Is Widespread, Thorny for Students with ADHD

Remote learning loss has handicapped academic growth for many students with ADHD. In a recent survey, ADDitude asked parents whether they are taking steps to remediate this loss. Some families are considering summer school or repeating a grade, while others welcome the break of a summer vacation.

Stack of hardback books and Open book lying on bench at sunset park against blurred nature backdrop. Copy space, back to school. Education background. Toned image.
Stack of hardback books and Open book lying on bench at sunset park against blurred nature backdrop. Copy space, back to school. Education background. Toned image.

Remote learning loss is pervasive and potentially crushing for students with ADHD who have struggled these past 14 months with lack of structure, motivation, and adequate accommodations. Lost academic ground has caused both grades and self-esteem to plummet for many students with learning challenges, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for some. For others, the format of online learning proved to be a better fit and resulted in academic and emotional gains. Both realities are coming into focus as this school year comes to a close.

Recently, ADDitude asked parents to share the challenges their children have faced while learning remotely, and whether they plan to remedy learning loss during the summer or next school year. Here are some of their answers; please add yours to the Comments section below.

Has Your Child Experienced Remote Learning Loss?

“The lock downs, distance learning, home-schooling, back-to-school: all of this caused my daughter to lose academic ground. Summer school would collide with family vacation, so we had to drop it even though the teacher recommended it. We would like to help our daughter stay on track, but she is not always ready to be helped. We are considering having her repeat the school year and are also considering medication for the first time.” – Anonymous

“My son has lost a considerable amount of academic ground this year, but many students are in the same boat. I’m going to let him take the summer off; we both need the summer to relax without the stress of school.” – Anonymous

“My 16-year-old daughter was getting As and Bs prior to remote learning. I had hoped this school year would have been better, but the improvement has been minimal. She is behind in her assignments and at serious risk of failing at least one class. She has a 504 Plan in place, but I am disappointed at the lack of support she has received. It’s frustrating for both me and my daughter.” – Beth

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“My 8-year-old grandson has made amazing progress in reading, math, and overall confidence during his virtual learning year. Diagnosed with ADHD, LD, and SPD, he attends an LD-focused school and was able to have one-on-one classes with teachers when schools closed. The virtual relationship with teachers is strong and trusting. He takes pride in his work and shows increased confidence.” – Lena

“All three of my children with ADHD have been negatively impacted by remote schooling. My 17-year-old son has autism as well as ADHD and ODD, and he lacked any motivation for online learning. He is completing a life skills program and is in a small ASD support class of 10 boys, but he is unlikely to catch up on the missed learning. My two girls (15 and 10) struggled to stay focused while learning from home and missed significant chunks of material.” – Anonymous

“All students are in the same boat. Stressed-out children need summer break to reset and be ready for learning in the fall.”  – Anonymous

“During online learning, my boys were lost in their regular class with 25 faces on the screen and a couple of children who overpowered all interaction. Luckily, both of my boys had their own life raft in the form of IEPs and the best special education teacher ever. Now back at school, they have both flourished and caught up. We will relax this summer after a stressful year; they have earned it!” – Beth

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“We actually experienced multiple benefits with remote learning. The curriculum was compacted and there were no more interruptions from switching classrooms or leaving for bathroom breaks. Focus is even harder in the classroom with competing noises, behavior problems derailing instruction, and children arriving late. For easily distracted children, there was less noise and environmental stimuli.” – Anonymous

“I’m having a hard time thinking about forcing my daughter to do schoolwork this summer as she clearly needs a break from what has been a hard year for everyone.” – Anonymous

“We are having our son repeat 8th grade in a new school before moving onto high school, so he can mature more and catch up on lost learning from this school year.” – Anonymous

“My daughter is in high school and unfortunately has a lot of catching up to do. She has dyslexia, and doing math online turned out to be too overwhelming for her. I wish she was just a bit younger and that I could tell her ‘It’s okay, you have time to catch up; you can retake the class,’ but unfortunately our college-push culture makes that impossible.” – Anonymous

“My teenage son has definitely suffered academically due to lack of engagement with remote learning. I would like to take steps to remediate this, but he is reluctant to study at the best of times and will not do extra work, especially on holidays, weekends, or evenings. The school is aware of his issues but has not set up any specific support to help him to catch up.” – Caroline

Remote Learning Loss: Next Steps

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