A successful school year begins in July. An unsuccessful one begins the first day of classes. Set up your child for success by reviewing his IEP or 504 Plan, developing organization systems with him, communicating with teachers, and more during the summer months.
The accommodations our children with ADHD receive will need to reflect the challenges of the new school year. Consider which educational goals have been met, and any remaining trouble spots. One thing to do before school starts is schedule a team meeting. Bring report cards, notes from the teacher, tests — anything to illustrate your child’s current achievement levels. Discuss what worked last year and the accommodations and goals you’ll focus on this year.
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Scout the School
Doing a walk through of the school before the school year starts will reduce a child's anxiety. Locate her classroom and look over the desk arrangement. Find the bathrooms, auditorium, nurse’s office, and gym. If your child travels from class to class, walk her through her schedule.
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Organize School Systems Together
Determine your child's biggest organizational challenges and come up with solutions before classes begin. Visit an office supply store and check out the materials designed for organizing papers, supplies, and time. Choose systems that will be easy enough for your child to manage at school and at home. For example, if you know he loses his homework, buy pocket folders and label them for work to be completed on the left, finished work on the right.
If he can't find books in his locker, buy a locker shelf and encourage him to organize books according to his daily class schedule.
Choose an area near the door and equip it with open cubbies/shelving, baskets, and/or hooks. Make this the home for books, homework, backpack, notes, sports bag, keys, lunches, and other school-related articles. Hang a large whiteboard to help her remember tasks and items. An alarm clock or timer will help her get out the door in time.
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Stock Up On School Supplies
Assume that your child will eventually need poster board or a protractor. Buy lots of supplies now and store them where you can easily find them later. To get a sense of the projects your child will need supplies for, talk with the parent of a child who's one grade ahead of yours.
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Plan Your Child's After-School Activities
Would your child benefit from more physical activity? Consider sports or dance. Does he need to practice focusing? Why not sign him up for martial arts or chess club? Try to build on your child’s routines with activities that will enhance his strengths and provide opportunities for working on challenging tasks. Studies show that for a child with ADHD, scheduling exercise into the day increases her focus and sharpens her attention in school and at home.
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Find a Tutor or Homework Helper
If you feel that your child might benefit from homework help, find some now. Try out several candidates for personality fit and skill level, and let your child make the final decision. Don’t choose a tutor who encourages dependence in your child. The goal is to give him ways to meet challenges on his own.
Being able to foresee deadlines gives children a sense of control over their lives. Start by discussing daily, weekly, and monthly schedules. Agree on routines, school, extracurricular and social activities, and other events that you and your child would like to pursue. The more input your child has about her schedule, the more likely she will be to adhere to it.
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Review Your Child's Medication
Was your child off medication during the summer? If so, you may want to restart it a week or two before school begins. Ask your doctor and, while you are there, discuss whether medication changes are needed given puberty or increased demands at school.
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Set Learning Goals Together
Sit down with your child and brainstorm about the goals of the upcoming school year. Let him talk; you listen. Focus on strengths, as well as on areas that need improvement. Make goals attainable. Meeting goals empowers a child to meet tougher challenges later.
For a younger child, have her answer questions like "I want to learn...", "I want to avoid...", "My strengths and weaknesses are...."