Having a school-age child with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a challenge for many parents. However, there is help and support available. As a result of the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, you have the right to be involved with your child’s education. There are 5 things to consider while working out an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with your child’s educator.
Staying in touch with your child’s teacher is a proactive way to help your child succeed in school. Meet with your child’s principal to discuss ways you can work together to help your child succeed. Find out whether the teacher your child has been assigned to has training and experience with children with ADD and ask for a change if you don’t feel comfortable with the teacher. Meet with the teacher prior to the school year starting and discuss your child’s medical and educational history. Make arrangements to be in regular contact with her to discuss progress, problems and things that can be done to help your child succeed in school.
The fewer the distractions, the easier it is for your child to focus on his schoolwork. Arrange with his teacher to have his desk up front, near the teacher’s desk and away from windows, colorful bulletin boards and other visual distractions. At home, set up a homework center that is away from the television or video games. If you are able, provide a desk with a draw to keep school supplies from being a distraction.
Routines help children with ADD by taking away the need to decide what to do next. Set the order of homework done based upon performance; do the subjects that your child does better in first, so she has a sense of accomplishment when it’s time to tackle the harder subjects. Ask the teacher to break the homework down into smaller sections with simpler instructions, with a check list so your child can make sure she has all her work done. Supervise your child’s homework and teach her good study habits; reading out loud, discussing and taking notes about what she has read will improve your child’s reading retention.
Plan for your child to have opportunities to move and refocus during homework. Place an ‘In’ box on your child’s homework center and an ‘Out’ box away from it, so that he has to get up to reach the box. Have your child place her homework into the “In” box. Let her take the first one off the top and do that assignment. When it is finished, have her get up, walk across and place the completed work in the “Out” box. Only then can she return to take the next assignment. Have her check completed homework off the list sent by her teacher.
When your child is doing his homework, set a timer for an amount that is shorter than your child’s attention span. When it goes off, give him a 10 minute break. As your child’s attention span grows, increase the time between the breaks.
Look for things to praise in your child’s behavior. Verbally comment, “I like the way you sat while you did your math,” instead of, “Stop wiggling.” For younger children, you might consider placing a small reward, such as a penny or a slice of apple, on their desk as you offer the praise. Allow her to watch a favorite show once she has finished all her homework.