5 Sensible Steps to Assist Youngsters Begin A New Faculty 12 months
In these days in particular, it is downright scary for many children to prepare for the start of a new school year. According to a survey of 600 teenagers on kidshealth.org, only 10% of students had no particular concerns about going back to school in the fall in the days leading up to the pandemic. About 30% of students cited schoolwork as their primary concern, another 30% were most concerned about social issues, and appearing ranked third at 25%. And all of this before the stressors of the 2020-2021 pandemic.
Transitions are stressful
Getting back to the rhythm of the school year is difficult at the best of times. Let’s be honest. Even returning to work from a weekend can be harrowing. (See as examples the songs “I Hate Mondays”, “Rainy Days and Mondays” or “Monday, Monday”). To further complicate matters, students also have to adapt to a variety of “new situations”: not to mention new teachers, new curriculum requirements, new classmates, maybe even new and larger buildings or a college campus changing bodies and emotions.
All children have some level of stress. Some simply say they are nervous, while others’ behavior changes fundamentally as the “first day of school” approaches.
It’s even more difficult for children with ADHD, learning disabilities, and related challenges. For them, school was often a place of failure – public failure – both academically and socially. These are the children who are “smart but absent-minded”, the teachers say “the lights are on but nobody is home”, the other children sometimes roll their eyes. School can be a pretty difficult place for these great kids, and it’s important to help them get off to a good start into the new school year.
It doesn’t get much better when the school day is over. Now they are faced with homework that they may not even understand, let alone find interesting enough to have the energy to tackle it. And mom or dad just seem to somehow make it worse with these helpful hints and check-ins.
Parents can help make things better
How can we be helpful and do better? How can we develop skills of independence and true trust instead of just taking over or just holding our breath and hoping for the best?
Here are 5 practical tips to help your child with ADHD start a new class and year.
- Go to the bucket list
Transitions are more difficult for children with ADHD, especially transitioning to something they reject. One way to alleviate the pain of the end of summer is to offer it in the context of providing something they really want. Try something like, “Look, summer won’t be here long and you will focus on school and all that, but what’s one thing on your summer list that you haven’t done yet that we might be able to do? By bringing up the uncomfortable subject of school in a way that deliberately distracts attention from it, you both acknowledge that it is difficult and open the door to discuss it at another time.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings
Your child may already have strong opposition to school. In children with ADHD, many school activities do not activate the brain’s reward centers. If your child comes to school with negative emotions (“I hate school! I don’t want to go back!”), Show empathy and normalize their feelings. Instead of false assurances like “It’ll be okay” or “You always say that and it’s not true”, they reflect their feelings. “Yeah, that part definitely sounds harsh. Many children your age are likely to feel the same way. “
- Emphasize the positive
Once you’ve shown some empathy, you can focus on more positive thoughts. Redirect her to something you believe she will enjoy about school. “Thank god for the break / gym / art / science / writing / that favorite teacher / your good friend” and so on.
- Keep the bar low.
A promise you made is a promise you should better keep for children with ADHD. You will likely take your words literally in ways you never intended. “The beach could be beautiful” can easily become “You promised we’d go to the beach!”. Likewise, saying “I’m sure the school and your teacher will be nice” is your 100% satisfaction and money back guarantee. Reduce the assurances that everything will be fabulous – and adopt a “wait and see” attitude.
- Teaching flexible thinking
Make the expectation that things will take time (which children with ADHD cannot see). Ask, “What do you think will help you be good with this teacher so far?” This will help your child do three things:
- think from the teacher’s point of view
- Look at places where they are in control
- Pay attention to changing conditions
To make your child successful this school year, try to keep things “factual”. Don’t try to prove what a good year it will be because the first day is good, because the first bad day a week later will be proof of something else. A day is a day and actually consists of many moments. Take things one day at a time and start teaching your child to do the same.
While the transition back to the first few days can be “high stakes”, remember that the entire school year is filled with moment-to-moment opportunities for your children to grow and gain confidence.