Action Plan: Back to School Season with ADHD
Ah, summer. Is there any time of the year more dear to children's hearts? Its bliss is only marred by what's at the end of it - back to school. After months of nothing more strenuous than camp, children's brains are just not ready for the rigors of the classroom and the structured format of the school day.
The switching of gears is especially hard on children with ADHD. They often need time to get used to changes, so a little preparation is in order to keep from the first day of school being a rude shock.
Three weeks before start of school
Get their brains back on the learning track.
All children forget at least part of what they learn in school each summer, and children with ADHD are no exception. Summer bridge workbooks help your child review what they learned in school the year before and get a head start on the next school year. Plus, a few pages a day in a workbook will ease them back into the learning mindset and start re-introducing them to the structure of school. The best known of these workbooks are from Rainbow Bridge Publishing, but there are plenty of good workbooks in every subject and level. Look at your child's last report card and see which areas he or she was weak in.
If you read to your child at night, start adding some educational reading in before the "fun" reading. A reading list is at the bottom, but you might also use a summer reading list from your child's school or the local library.
Two weeks before
Start re-adjusting the sleep cycle.
Chances are good that your child has been going to bed and getting up later. They may also have been getting less sleep overall than they normally do during the school year. Give yourself at least two weeks to re-adjust their bed and waking times to what they'll be when school starts. Also, studies have shown that lack of sleep can make even children without ADHD hyperactive, so you might want to consider extending the number of hours your child sleeps to see if he or she benefits.
Go shopping for school supplies.
This is just another activity that helps get your child in the back to school mode, but it might be a good time to chat with him or her about the beginning of school and see if there are any anxieties rearing their ugly heads.
A week or more before
Just walking around the school and getting re-acclimated when things are still quiet can help cut down on anxiety and first day jitters.
A day or two before
Meet with your child's teacher.
Meeting with the new teacher when things aren't hectic and he or she has a few moments for conversation with your child is a great way for the teacher to get to know your child, especially if they have the impression that your child as a troublemaker, from seeing him or her in the principal's office.
Fun/Interesting Educational Reading
How Would You Survive series (i.e., How Would You Survive as a Viking)