Quick Guide on Helping Children with ADHD Navigate Remote Learning
Since the closure of schools this past spring, parents everywhere have taken on the duty of managing remote learning for their children. Navigating this system can be particularly difficult for parents whose children suffer from attention issues such as ADHD. When we remove the school environment that provides supportive services in structure, teaching style, physical environment considerations, and 1:1 support from special education staff, it is easy to find yourself overwhelmed with the duties that may exacerbate attention issues for your child and leave them feeling confused, frustrated and disoriented.
Consider the following tips and strategies as you navigate remote classes and adapt to best suit the individual needs of your child.
Understand the Experience
Observe your child’s remote learning process and figure out where help is most needed. Before you can implement strategies and solutions needed to properly assess where to focus your energy, understanding your child’s experience is key. Here is a checklist for observation:
- How is your child’s organization? Do they have a system?
- How is their attention during remote learning presentations? Are they fidgeting or easily distracted? How are they physically adjusting to their learning space?
- How do they respond when the teacher calls on them for participation?
- How are they with staying on task and completing assignments within the time allotted?
- How are they behaviorally (this may be something to observe from afar if they are prone to putting on their best behavior when you’re nearby).
Ask for Assistance
If your child has an IEP or 504, the school should provide a Remote Learning Plan that incorporates their diagnoses and allows for accommodations and modifications to continue during virtual learning. Write an official letter to the case manager to request additional support and list your observations.
Based on the checklist for observation outlined above, here are some tangible solutions to work on at home:
- Organization: Since the transition to virtual learning, what makes sense for organization? Organizing digital files in folders is key (i.e. Remote Learning 2020-2021). Inside of the school year folder for your child, create sub-folders for each subject: English, Math, Science, History, etc.
- Additionally, look at the organization of their overall morning routine (hygiene, preparing for the day, etc.) and assist as needed if the process appears overwhelming.
- Flexibility with Attention Needs: Consider fidget toys (non-distracting, approved by the school) and flexibility with seating for children with ADHD. Often sitting in one spot can be extremely hard to sustain, so try a beanbag or even sitting/laying on the floor! Please contact your child’s school administrators for approval of any changes in their seating.
- Additionally, minimize distractions with noise cancelling headphones or a white noise app machine or app.
- Classroom Participation: If they are disengaged or distracted, ask if the teacher can implement a reward system or daily report card to encourage engagement and decrease negative behaviors. If there are subjects where there is clear avoidance, work with the teacher to ensure assignments are clear and consider your child’s learning style.
- Time Management: Be open to a timer to get youth on track. Particularly, visual timers are helpful for children with ADHD.
- Behavior Management: The best way to improve behavior is through a strengths-based approach that focuses on positive behaviors. That’s why it’s best to implement reward systems (both at home and in school) and remain consistent. It is important that rewards (and consequences) are immediate, fair, and frequent feedback is provided.