School and homework can be challenging enough for any student.
For children with ADHD, it can be several times more difficult.
ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – symptoms include being prone to distraction, forgetfulness, impulsivity, and restlessness.
As a result, kids with ADHD might struggle to complete assignments or retain what they have learned.
However, this does not mean that ADHD kids are bad at learning or ill-equipped to learn – it just means they learn differently.
So, what learning strategies can help ADHD students unlock their potential?
Here are 3 ways to help kids with ADHD excel in school!
3 Ways to Help Kids with ADHD Excel in School
1. Plan and Organize
ADHD students may struggle with distraction and forgetfulness.
So, developing and sticking to a routine is essential.
To keep track of tests and assignments, have your child or student note down the dates and times as soon as they receive them.
You might need to reinforce this multiple times, to make sure they put it into practice on the regular until it develops into a habit and a form of structure they grow to rely on.
As the teacher, double-checking after class to see if the student noted the date or checking after they get home, helps develop their habit of inputting dates and important headlines into their calendars.
A variety of planner and calendar apps may benefit ADHD students to keep track of homework and submission deadlines.
Notifications and reminders can keep them on track if manual planners are a challenge since the reminders are built-in!
Maintaining a study routine is also essential in helping keep an ADHD child on track.
Having a specific time for studying, specific times for breaks, etc., reduces the likelihood that they grow distracted by anything else.
It’s essential to create the right environment for learning as well – a quiet room, in front of a blank wall, with no distractions, can help enhance the child’s focus.
It may not be enough to simply tell them to complete their work – ADHD children, despite their best intentions to learn, may still struggle to concentrate and retain what they’re studying.
At home, parents can walk through the requirements of each assignment with the child to ensure that they fully grasp what it will require of them.
Set aside time to help your child walk through any challenges they are experiencing – your involvement can ground them and encourage them to actively engage with learning.
At the end of each day, parents should help their ADHD kids go over their work.
This teaches them accountability and helps your child double-check whether they have completed all the work they needed to, reducing chances of forgotten or half-done assignments.
By making this study routine and planning a regular part of their lives, ADHD kids learn to value organization and make a habit that can bring lifelong benefits.
2. Understand which Modality you Use Most When Engaged in Learning
Out of the three primary learning modalities – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic – schools cater more to visual and auditory learners.
Students are expected to sit for long periods of time each school day.
They sit during assigned class readings, and are expected to sit in classrooms while presented with information often in a visual and auditory format.
ADHD students may lose focus quickly when asked to read long blocks of text, or grow restless when sitting in one place for too long.
These students can adopt compensatory strategies by incorporating and integrating all three learning modalities.
If a student likes to move around and interact with their environment as they learn, they can benefit from short breaks, stretching, and experiential learning allowing them to actively participate in the assigned task.
This movement helps channel their energy and fine tunes their focus on learning assigned material.
Acting out what they are learning at home, or explaining it out loud to an invisible class or audience can also help to build better recall – combining both their inherent need for activity and learning!
Some students may also benefit from using audiobooks along with textbooks for reading enhancing a multi-modality approach of listening to text, while simultaneously reading and pointing to each word.
If students tend to grow distracted due to long stretches of text, audiobooks can help them zip through the text quicker while maintaining their attention!
By allowing students to try ways they can make learning new material engaging and exciting to them, they are more likely to be motivated to pursue independent practices while achieving academic success.
The goal is to help ADHD students to discover and develop their love of learning, instead of dreading it.
3. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Lifestyle plays a significant role in the study success of any student, and children with ADHD are no exception.
Along with maintaining the medication prescribed by their doctor, it’s vital to ensure ADHD kids are eating the right sorts of food.
Refined sugar in the form of candies, pastries, soda, and so on, and caffeine, can exacerbate ADHD symptoms significantly.
Like deep-fried and fast foods rich with saturated fats, these foods can, in the long run, leave them feeling irritable, sluggish, unmotivated, forgetful, and overall not in the best state to learn.
On the other hand, foods that prime the brain for better learning, like blueberries, nuts, seeds, salmon, leafy greens, etc., are better for overall health as well as for learning!
Also, ADHD kids can benefit from regular exercise!
This helps them blow off excess steam and ups the production of motivational neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin – which can sharpen their focus for learning.
This can also help tire them out enough to get healthier hours of sleep, which is neuroscience-proven to improve learning and recall.
Another aspect of a healthier lifestyle for ADHD teens is to reduce the time they spend on a screen.
Of course, this does not mean depriving them of their smartphones, video games, and other sources of recreation and entertainment available to their peers.
However, studies indicate that excessive time spent on devices can result in unhealthy stimulation for ADHD kids, which in turn aggravates ADHD symptoms.
Instead, encourage them to explore other avenues of entertainment and hobbies: sports, reading, and activities that require them to solve problems and physically interact and communicate.
This helps build essential soft skills while helping your child productively channel excess energy and sharpen their cognitive abilities!
With these 3 ways to help kids with ADHD excel in school, I hope you have the knowledge you need to support your ADHD child as they accomplish academic success.
Do you have any questions or concerns? Drop them in the comments below!
As an Educational Consultant and Learning Specialist for over 30 years, Dana created an easy-to-follow, step-by-step online course called The ABCs of Academic Success so you can help your child thrive academically! Check it out and get a free 15 minute consultation with Dana too.