Going back to school with ADHD can bring a variety of emotions and behaviors. Gone are the lazy carefree days of summer with less structure. As parents it is time now to somehow bring back more structure and routine! Easier said then done in my house!
We start the summer with great intentions of keeping a routine, doing some math sheets, and getting to bed at a decent time. By the end of the summer however, most of that intention is MUCH, MUCH looser! My ADHD child is older and I find his need for more structure is not as great as it was when he was younger. However, we often see some behavior changes the first few weeks of school. Switching gears can begin slowly and long before school starts with a few simple steps.
- Start conversations around who they are excited to go back to see, what they miss about school, what class they are most excited for.
- If you are lucky enough to know your child’s teacher begin talking about him/her.
- Have your child/ help your child write a letter to their teacher about things they like outside of school, at school, most excited about and anything else they would like their new teacher to know.
- Create an “About the Teacher” sheet to find out more about them. Coffee or Tea? Book or Movie? Sweet or salty? Birthday? etc.
- Be curious. Ask your child what they are most apprehensive about in words they understand. Is there anything you are not looking forward to? What is one thing you would change if you could? etc.
- Have a practice drive/walk to the school
- Buy school supplies together.
These are simple things that maybe you already do. Be conscious of the way your child responds and discusses these things. If you listen carefully you may pick up fears or feelings that your child does not know how to discuss.
Take time to look at what your needs are for getting everyone back into routine. Be prepared in order to make back to school with ADHD a little easier. When we are not prepared, we tend to put undue stress on our family. Often we don’t even recognize that we are creating stress around us.
What are your needs? Do you struggle with transitions? Are there ways you can make your load lighter for a few days at the beginning of school?
Are you taking care of yourself? What is this question doing in here?! This is suppose to be about my kids! Well this is a lesson I wish I had learned sooner. When I am stressed or anxious my kids can tell. They may not be able to put the words to it but they begin to “feed” off of my emotions. My self care or lack of it sets the tone in the house. Schedule in time for you. Make sure you are getting the sleep you need. For a few weeks your kids need you to be more patient, more understanding, and more available in order for them to make this transition more smoothly.
Be prepared. By assessing your needs, and taking care of yourself you are preparing yourself. However, be prepared for you kids to be more edgy, have more meltdowns, be more sensitive. How can you handle these more calmly? What can you “let go of” for a week or two? Your child is experiencing a lot of changes and new expectations at school right now, they do not need every infraction addressed at home. I’m not saying let all misbehavior go. Rather I am saying have some grace and understanding, be curious about whats going on with them, and choose your battles!
BACK TO SCHOOL WITH ADHD AND TEACHERS
If your child has an IPP/IEP, your school may have a different name, your child’s teacher likely already knows some of your child’s needs. I find it good to give a little time for the teacher to get to know my child without me jumping in to soon. <I will say though that some kids needs are such that you need to be hands on as a parent much quicker.> After a week or so I like to make an appointment to meet with the teacher. My purpose in doing so is to begin building relationship so that I can advocate for my child more effectively. The school year will run much more smoothly if there is a team mentality with the teacher. Here are a few things that can be done…
- Thank the teacher for all they do and let them know you are looking forward to the year ahead.
- Let them know you are open to hearing from them in constructive ways. Often we hear the negatives, let the teacher know you like to hear the positives as well so you can encourage your child.
- Keep an open mind of the teacher regardless of “what you’ve heard on the playground”. Every teacher and child relationship is unique.
- Offer to help. Not all parents can volunteer but letting the teacher know you are willing to help goes along way. Sometimes teachers have things that could be done from home.
- Recognize that your child does take more time and energy. Be an encouragement to the teacher. A thank you note or gift shows your appreciation for the extra time they spend on IPP’s, forms, and with your child.
BE IN TOUCH
As we all get started on this new year I wish all of you an amazing year. There will be highs and lows. Take each as a learning experience and a chance to understand your child better.
I would love to hear from you! Let me know how your school year is going and if you have any ADHD questions or would like to find out more about coaching.
From my Family to yours,
Family ADHD Coach Laureen