Distance learning is not ideal for all students with ADHD. Surviving the coming school year will mean reducing anxiety and tension at home while also maintaining realistic expectations, providing appropriate supports, and advocating for our children with eyes wide open.
Embrace the unknown. This is the first, incredibly difficult step for families making the school transition this year. Flexibility is key. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build a predictable structure at home.
- Plan activity periods or blocks. Divide the remote school day into periods that work for your child. This can look like morning, afternoon, and evening blocks, divided by breaks in between. Use reminders – alerts on phones or computers (children tend to pay more attention to these) – for class time, rest periods, and other tasks. Ask your child what a productive, engaging learning day looks like.
- Include timed breaks with specific options. Work in times for snacks, physical activity, chores, screen time, and screen-free activities. Offer kids short and long breaks, and provide a list of activities they can do during those times. If you’re working from home and have younger children, use screen time to your advantage and to meet your own needs. Try to schedule their screen time, for example, during your work meetings.
- Plan for safe socializing with peers. Before the colder months approach, help your kids safely see their friends as much as possible. Review the latest guidelines on social distancing, and make sure your kids have masks and hand sanitizer with them at all times. Talk to your children about how to handle scenarios where others may not be engaging in safe behaviors. Remind them of the real ramifications for themselves, their friends, and others in the household of not being safe.
- Help kids connect with their teachers. Talk with your child’s teachers about setting up weekly check-in sessions by phone, text, Google Classroom, Hangout, or Zoom. One-on-one contact is especially important for teens.
- Steadiness over perfection. Be open to revisions if plans aren’t working. Ask your kids, friends, family or the web for suggestions. Be transparent and offer brief explanations when making changes to expected tasks. Not doing so may lead children to believe that they can be flexible with arrangements and avoid sticking to the plan.