When your child moves on from kindergarten and enters elementary school, he or she will be expected to do things differently. Kids in elementary school have to sit at their desks for longer periods of time, listen to the teacher, accomplish tasks, follow more complex directions, and do homework every night. If your child has ADHD, however, he or she may experience the following problems in elementary school:
- Unfinished tasks. Children with ADHD tend to begin tasks with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, but they eventually lose interest in it. As a result, they have difficulty accomplishing the task altogether, or may hurry through the task and turn in incomplete or messy work.
- Distractibility. Children with ADHD are easily distracted by television, the sound of kids playing outside, or other stimuli unrelated to schoolwork. They may have trouble doing homework or answering tests within the time required.
- Fidgety behavior. Children with ADHD, especially in the early elementary school years, may keep getting out of their seats and walking around the classroom even when they are supposed to sit down. Although this kind of behavior can actually help some kids with working memory tasks, the average teacher might consider it rude or distracting.
- Losing things. Children with ADHD are more likely to misplace things like pencils, homework, books, even the school bag.
Aside from issues with classroom behavior and academic accomplishment, ADHD kids may have problems with social skills. They may have difficulty making friends because they cannot wait their turn, blurt out hurtful things, or are too shy to speak to new people. Kids with ADHD, especially those with hyperactive-impulsive type, are also more likely to experience playground injuries and to injure others. Your child's safety will be a constant source of concern.
Here are some ways you can help you child make the smooth transition into elementary school:
- Keep an active role in your child's academic life. You can only be in the position to help your child academically if you know what's going on at school. Examine the curriculum and ask to see the homework assignments; provide your help when needed. Join parent-teacher associations and work with other parents of ADHD kids to foster an academic environment that will accommodate their needs.
- Create a homework routine. When your child reaches middle school, he should be able to accomplish homework on his own. Get him used to it by creating a homework routine. At the same time each night, your child should drop whatever he's doing and accomplish homework. You can spend the early elementary years supervising your child until he can do school work without your help.
- Don't forget extracurricular activities. If your child has a hard time making friends at school, extracurricular activities might make it easier for him to socialize with other kids who have the same interests. Social benefits aside, these after-school activities are instrumental in boosting self-esteem and confidence when they hone your child's non-academic talents.