ADHD in Elementary School

By Eileen Bailey

As children enter into third grade, demands increase. During the coming years, schoolwork becomes more complex, with projects that may require planning and need to be completed in steps. Teachers expect students to take on more responsibility and to be able to complete more work on their own or with minimal assistance.


Children at this age need to have organizational skills and this is one area where many children with ADHD struggle. Parents and teachers need to work with students and help with planning for projects. Monitoring large assignments and creating checkpoints can help a child with ADHD stay on task.


Homework is frequently a daily struggle. While classmates may complete homework in a timely manner, parents of elementary age children may spend one to two hours each night working with their child to help him or her stay focused and complete the work. Even so, forgetting to hand the work in is still a major problem. Losing items, including pens, pencils, books and homework assignments may also happen on a regular basis.


Inconsistency is also a major part of ADHD. Some days children with ADHD may perform well and complete their work, while on other days, distractions and overwhelm may prevent a child from getting anything done. This inconsistency often confuses parents and teachers and can result in a child being labeled lazy or uncaring. However, inconsistency is a common characteristic of ADHD and is not a behavioral problem.


By the time children have entered 3rd grade, they have learned to sit still during class, no longer getting up and walking around at inappropriate times, but may still feel restless and squirmy and have a difficult time sitting still for extended periods of time.


Outdoor activities that allow a child to release excess energy can help, but parents face a dilemma. Some children may focus better to complete homework if he or she is allowed time to run around and use up some energy after school. Other parents may find once a child becomes disassociated from schoolwork, he or she may have a more difficult time focusing again later. Parents must determine what will work best for their child, consistency and structure are important for children with ADHD at this age.

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