“Sarah still doesn’t listen. Every time I look at her, she’s away with the fairies”.
“I can tell that Tom isn’t focussing on his homework. There are silly little errors everywhere.”
“Mary is wonderfully kind, but her constant tapping is beginning to become a real distraction.”
Do any of these remarks sound similar at all? For a parent whose child has ADHD, such feedback is all too common. Children with ADHD are easily distracted by external and internal stimuli and find it hard to plan and organise their work. As such, they are often caught daydreaming, fidgeting or procrastinating.
In an ideal world, they would not be told off for this behaviour because, of course, it is not their fault. However, many teachers are unable to distinguish this neurological issue from a behavioural one, and consequently many children with ADHD come home feeling ashamed and embarrassed. So, what can you do as their parent? Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Read ahead to discover the top ways to help your child with ADHD focus better at school.
1. Speak to their teacher
There is one obvious obstacle to all this: you can’t go to school with your child. What you can do, however, is use the teacher as your ally in providing them support. First off, make sure the teacher knows that they have ADHD. This should mean they refrain from shouting at them for something that is not their fault. Then you can discuss ways to improve focus in the classroom. Perhaps your child can be seated near the teacher and away from windows to prevent distraction, or maybe their tasks can be alternated more frequently than the other children to keep their work particularly engaging.
2. Establish a daily homework routine
Once your child is back home, they become your responsibility again. To help them focus at school, you should get them into the practice of focussing at home. So, create a homework routine and make sure it is carried out regularly. That does not mean that they need to start their homework the moment they get in the house. They will most likely need a break, a snack and then some motivation. Each child is different, but you can and should create a routine for them around their needs. The main thing is that they can stick to it.
3. Set up the conditions for good, focussed work in a distraction-free environment
The distractions of the classroom can be mitigated only partially. Any teacher will tell you that you are destined to fail if you try to keep twenty kids silent for an hour. However, the home is different. What’s more, if you facilitate distraction-free working here, you might find that your child is more skilled at filtering out cognitive obstacles at school. Again, each child is different and what is distracting to one child may aid focus in another, such as music playing in the background. Experiment until you find optimal working conditions.
4. Break down their assignments into chunks
Children with ADHD will find themselves lured into distraction far more frequently if the task they have been given seems overwhelmingly enormous. The ultimate goal is for them to learn how to chunk tasks into workable segments by themselves in the classroom, so that they can set clear, manageable goals that they are motivated to fulfil. You can speed up that process by showing them how it is done at home.