Does your child … have a diagnosis of ADHD? Have trouble sitting still or focusing? Struggle with planning or time management? Act impulsively or make careless mistakes? Show signs of frustration or low self-esteem?
Helping your child overcome these challenges can seem daunting. Hey, we’ve been there, and we get it! ADHD is challenging for parents, not just kids. However, there are absolutely things you can do to help your learner be successful. While every student is different, and it takes trial and error to land on what works best for your unique learner, these strategies provide a solid starting point.
What You Can Do to Help Your Child With ADHD
Meet the learner’s physiological needs.
- Exercise – Movement has a very positive effect on cognitive performance and mood. Optimally, the learner would exercise in the morning before school and/or later, before starting homework.
- Breaks – During class or homework, experts recommend that learners take movement breaks every 30 minutes. They can take a few minutes to stand up, take a short walk, get a drink or healthy snack, or enjoy a non-screen activity like listening to a song, doodling, or playing with cards.
- Fidgets – Oftentimes, children find fidget (or sensory) tools to be particularly helpful. By keeping the body active, they improve the learner’s concentration and help maintain focus. In addition, they provide a mental break which can decrease anxiety. Fidgets can include anything from stress balls to textured or chewable jewelry. Chewing gum can also be helpful in this way.
Ensure the environment is optimal for learning.
- Remove distractions – Minimize clutter and background noise. Ideally the learner would work in a consistent location away from the TV, siblings, pets, windows, and phone (where possible).
- Music – Consider playing soft music or white noise, which learners frequently find less distracting than complete silence.
Help the learner stay organized and focused.
- Schedules – Visual schedules (including pre-set breaks) can prove helpful in keeping learners on track. Ideally the learner could check off “to do” items as they complete them to track their progress and feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Timers – Alarms or timers can easily track when it’s time to start or end a break, eliminating the need for the learner to keep checking the clock.
- Be present – Check in periodically on the learner. Are they progressing or staying on schedule? Have they reached a roadblock and need help to move on? Is it time for a quick snack break? Consider sitting quietly nearby and reading or working as a gentle reminder to the learner to stay on task.
- Emphasize the positive – Celebrate successes, large and small! Praise and rewards go a long way in helping motivate learners, build confidence, and alleviate frustration.
- Work with the school – Keep in close touch with teachers and administrators at school. Work toward common goals and use consistent strategies. When in doubt, overcommunicate to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Stay informed – Educate yourself about ADHD and available services. Nonprofit online resources such as the CDC and Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) offer extensive information on the latest ADHD-related research, current events, and advocacy.
- See what works for others – Consider joining an online community – such as Health Unlocked – to see what other caregivers have personally found effective.
These strategies are a great start at helping your learner succeed. However, you don’t have to go it alone – help is available!
Fit Learning’s ADHD Coaching Can Help
Fit Learning partners closely with parents to help learners who struggle with attending make remarkable progress in math, reading, logic, and other core areas.
- Fit’s overall approach is ideal for learners with ADHD. The learning sessions incorporate strategies discussed here, and Fit’s founders crafted the approach to reflect the latest research in learning science.
- At Fit, we get that every learner is different. That’s why our curriculum is completely customized to fit each learner’s unique needs and the strategies that work best to motivate and encourage them. Our learning coaches have strong backgrounds in behavior analysis and extensive experience working with diverse types of learners. No two Fit learning sessions are the same, ever.
- In addition, at Fit …
- All sessions are 1:1, leaving no time for the learner to get bored or feel disconnected.
- The learning is fun, fast-paced, and engaging; we keep it moving, and time passes quickly for learners.
- We make learning sessions a positive experience that boosts self-esteem and confidence. Just one way we do this is by involving the learner in tracking and celebrating personal bests.
- Our efficient building-block approach targets the root of the problem versus the symptoms. This means that the learner’s gains extend beyond improvement in the designated academic area (e.g., reading, math). They also have improved executive functioning, processing speed, working memory, perseverance, and confidence – all of which will help them as they progress in school.
- There is no homework (yes, you heard that right). At Fit, all the work happens during the sessions.
- At Fit, we provide regular progress updates to parents – after all, it is a partnership.
The bottom line is outcomes, outcomes, outcomes! Fit learners average one or two grade levels of improvement after 40 hours of instruction.
Academic Programs at Fit Learning
Fit offers instruction in the areas of reading, expressive writing, math, logic, and kindergarten readiness. There is also a program designed for homeschoolers, as well as an option for those who prefer to learn online versus in person.
And, as mentioned earlier, Fit’s customized approach works well for all kinds of students:
- learners with ADHD/ADD, as discussed here
- students diagnosed with learning disabilities, slow processing speed, dyslexia, or autism
- learners who are average or simply struggling in school
- gifted students who would benefit from additional challenges
The Next Steps for Helping Your Child With ADHD
For more information on how Fit Learning’s ADHD coaching can help your learner, contact Janice Smith, director of the Fit St. Louis learning lab.
Sources for more information on ADHD and learning:
- ATTitude magazine: https://www.additudemag.com/how-to-focus-adhd-child-homeschool/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/index.html
- Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD): https://chadd.org/
- Health Unlocked: https://healthunlocked.com/adhd-parents
- National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd