5 Things You Can Do in July to Help Your Child with ADHD Prepare for the Next School Year
It seems like summer has just begun and here I am talking about preparing your child for back-to-school. For children with ADHD, and their parents, the end of school signals the end of the daily stresses that accompany homework, studying and the constant fight to fidget less and pay attention more. It is easy to put away the books and the anxiety and not worry about it again until September. But, when you do, your child can experience what is often called Summer Brain Drain. Keeping your child engaged and learning throughout the summer makes sure he is more prepared once school does start. The following are some activities to keep your child in learning mode.
Reading is the number one activity your child should continue throughout the summer months. Check your school’s website, newsletter or local library to find out if your school has posted a recommended summer reading list. These lists make sure your child is reading books that will coincide with what he learned over the past year and will learn next year. Summer reading should be challenging but not overwhelming.
Summer is the time your child should be able to read books about subjects of interest to him. Head to the library and allow your child to explore, finding books that will pique his interest to improve the chances that he will read the books. It helps if you set aside a certain time of the day for reading. This might be for a half an hour in the morning before the television or video games are turned on, during the afternoon when everyone needs a little quiet time or right before bed. Choose the time that works best for your family and stick to it every day. If the whole family sits down to read at the same time, your child is more apt to read as well.
There are plenty of workbooks available to help your child practice their skills but chances are a child with ADHD will find them boring and put them aside within days of starting. Instead, look for something more interactive yet challenging and fun. There are a variety of websites for different grades and abilities. Take some time to look through several websites with your child. Find a few that will provide interesting activities that reinforce academic skills. Set up a schedule for your child to make sure computer time is spent doing something constructive.
Keeping a Summertime Journal
Use a blank notebook to start a summertime journal. Have your child write a short paragraph each day. If needed, provide some writing prompts, such as “My favorite summertime activity,” or “My fantasy vacation.” Use prompts that relate to your child’s life but also stretch their imaginations. Don’t correct the journals or require proper punctuation and grammar. Encourage your child to add memorabilia to their journal, such as tickets to an event they attended, pictures or postcards from a vacation. By the end of the summer your child will have a memory book of all their summer adventures and not even realize they spent their time practicing writing and handwriting skills.
Emphasize the Positive Aspects of School
After a stressful school year it is easy to focus on the negative aspects or simply ignore any discussion about school; you just want to forget about it for awhile. But the more you focus on the negative, even with comments such as, “At least we don’t have to do homework every night,” the more your child will start dreading going back to school. Instead, keep discussions about the upcoming school year positive and upbeat. Focus on what your child did well during the school year and how much he improved rather than focusing on the difficulties.
Talk about the upcoming school year, including what new experiences your child will have, emphasizing those you think your child will enjoy. You can also look in the library for books relating to the grade your child is entering. Share stories about your favorite school memories. While you don’t want to ignore or push aside your child’s worries about the upcoming year, try to focus on the positive aspects of the upcoming school year.
Use Fun, Interactive Activities to Reinforce Skills
Children with ADHD learn best through hands-on, interactive activities that engage the senses. Use ideas such as having your child bake cookies (learning fractions), having a treasure hunt (following directions, writing –especially if your children are older and write out the clues), going shopping (counting, money management, addition) or growing a garden (science). There are learning opportunities in many different activities and your child’s brain will be engaged and stay in learning mode if you work to bring out these opportunities no matter what you do this summer.