School is around the corner. How do you help your child to succeed this year?
This is the first part in a 2 part series how to help your ADHD child succeed in school. Please note since I do not know you or your situation personally, please take these ideas and adapt them to your unique situation.
The new school year is around the corner. Before you know it, your child will be back in school. The summer holiday freedom will be long forgotten. The days will be drawing in earlier. The new school year is a time for new opportunities and change. In some countries the new school year has already started.
The run up to the new school year and the first few weeks of school can be very stressful for mums, This is even more so if you have an ADHD child.
Your ADHD child can start the new school year with a clean slate and make a fresh start.
As an ADHD parent myself I have read so many self-help books out there. Most of them have made me feel so very guilty and totally overwhelmed. There is so much to work on. I have felt like why even bother?
In this blog I will share some of my top tips for success that are easy to implement that won’t make you feel overwhelmed and incompetent.
Throw your guilt out of the window – You are allowed to make mistakes
As an ADHD mum myself and I have ADHD too, I find the new school year especially stressful. There is so much to do. Many times I have misread the school supply list and bought the wrong equipment/not bought it for the first day of school…with my ADHD child very unhappy when they came home… The schools usually send a list in table form, with lots of words. I find it really difficult to focus and read the school supply list and I have made mistakes in the past. I now ask a family member to assist me with this…and that’s OK.
If you find yourself nodding along with me, please understand that the most important lesson you can teach your child is that you are human, you make mistakes, and that is OK.
Your ADHD child may think in stark black and white/all or nothing terms. Show them that the world hasn’t collapsed just because things didn’t go as planned on the first (or second or third) day. This is a vital life skill that your ADHD child may not learn naturally. They will need to see you showing by your example.
Having ADHD means that your child will have to work harder at school to succeed. One of the skills your ADHD child will need to acquire is to ask for help. When you show your ADHD child by your example, that you find things difficult and you ask for assistance, this is one of the best lessons you can teach your child.
Be kind to yourself and be easy on yourself. If you make a mistake, that is alright. You are only human. Bashing yourself up internally, will only make things worse. Really work on forgiving yourself for your mistakes.
Please remember that you are doing the best with the tools you have.
Please remember that you are doing a phenomenal job, and you are doing far far better than you even imagine.
Look after yourself
Since this time of year is more stressful, you will likely be giving more to your family. You need to give back to yourself every day by nurturing yourself every day. Do something that you enjoy. In this way you are replenishing your reserves to be a better mum for your ADHD child. You are not being selfish, you are being self-less.
The nightmare of school supplies
Buying school supplies can be a nightmare. I hate looking the list and working out what my children need/have/don’t need etc. Together with your child make a list of supplies that you need to buy. Take the list with you and keep to the items on your list. No matter what. I prefer to buy everything all in one shop even if prices may be lower elsewhere. This saves my sanity. Wilko is my favourite school supply shop. The prices are lower and they have everything (but not too much so it won’t be too overwhelming for your ADHD child) in one aisle.
Simple success tools
Organisation and focus will not likely happen naturally for your ADHD child. As their mum you will be the main person in their life to teach your child how to get themselves organised. Each family will have different routines and schedules. The main thing to remember is to be consistent with your routines and schedules and keep them simple, simple, simple.
If you or your spouse has ADHD establishing routines will be even more difficult. Go slow and steady. Implement changes at your pace. Do not try to do too much or you will get overwhelmed and give up.
Just take one piece of advice from this article and try to put it into practice.
You don’t need to focus on every single area of your child’s life at once to help them succeed. You are human with human limitations. There are however three main areas in life that if your get those areas routined you will help your child reach their success. They are the morning routine, the homework routine and the bedtime routine.
The morning and evening routine are like the two pieces of bread in a sandwich that contain the filling of your sandwich. If you don’t have the two pieces of bread to contain the filling, you have no sandwich. The morning and bedtime routines keep your child’s day focused and help your child to feel secure.
Start a week before the first day of school to ease your child back into an early morning wake up by slowly moving bedtime earlier and wakeup time earlier. You may need to wake up your child each day a little earlier. That is OK. Good sleep is crucial for optimum focus and success.
Prepare the night before as much as you can but don’t drive yourself crazy to the point of overwhelm.
Streamline clothes – Place a simple basket near your child’s bed with the clothes for the next day.
Streamline school lunches – Create a menu plan for your child’s school lunches.If your child has lunch in school be grateful that you have one less thing do prepare. If your child takes a packed lunch, create with your child a set menu plan for the week. Your child will know what to expect and your mornings will flow better. Hang up the menu. Include the lunches in your weekly shop so you have all the food you need for the week.
Streamline snacks – I know the experts say to prepare your child’s snacks the night before. Frankly this is an ADHD unfriendly piece of advice. The night before I am still finishing up the day, and trying to unwind. The very very last thing I want to do is to do the horribly boring and tedious task of making my children’s snacks for the next day.
The very best time (if you can organise yourself enough) to prepare your child’s snacks is the next morning. Be kind to yourself and have a container with pre-wrapped snacks ready for your child. Even if that may cost more. The amount of stress and time that you save will be well worth it.
You and your child need a nourishing breakfast for optimum focus and productivity. If there isn’t time for a proper cooked meal, there are healthy quick alternatives such as flapjacks, breakfast bars etc. Keep a stock of them handy in your snack cupboard for easy access.
Homework, that dreaded word. After the long school day your ADHD child needs time to unwind. The best time for homework is when your child has had time to unwind and has eaten. The very worst place for your child to do their homework is in their room with the door closed. They will likely get distracted by all sorts of things and not get their homework done.
The best place for your child to do their homework is right next to you. If you are busy in the kitchen, have them do their homework at the kitchen table. You can supervise their work and give assistance when needed.
Find out more tools in the second part of this 2 part series here.
Read this simple tool how to motivate your ADHD child here.
Make sure to have fun with your child every day. This can be playing a game or reading a book. The bonding will give your child confidence and lessen their anxiety. Incorporate this fun time into your bedtime routine. It doesn’t have to be long.
In my home our simple evening routine is PJ’s, teeth, book. My ADHD child who has a poor memory can remember those 3 tasks. They know that only when they have done the first 2 tasks they will get the last one.
Visualise your ADHD child succeeding
The most important thing you can do to help your child succeed is actually easier than you think. Imagine your child succeeding. All the best tools in the world will not work if you anticipate doom and gloom. This is your secret success weapon. The more you visualise their success the more this will influence the way you speak to your child by your positive language. Show your child that you really believe in them and in their ability to solve their problems. Show your child that their problems are just stepping stones towards their success this coming school year.
I have created a youtube playlist for parents to empower them with ADHD Friendly tools. Find out more ADHD tools to help your child succeed in school here.