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ADHD Learning Problem
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School Performance Problems

ADHD

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder will usually have a short attention span and are easily distracted, and may also be hyperactive and impulsive. These symptoms are usually noticed before she is seven years old and occur in more than one setting, for example both at home and at school

Typical symptoms of hyperactivity include being fidgety or on the go, always moving some part of their body, swinging their legs, tapping their fingers, or rocking their chair, etc. Children with ADHD may also have a short attention span, mainly because they are very easily distracted and have hard time focusing on things and staying on task. They may, however be able to focus on something that they are really interested in, or on activities that are always changing, such as playing video games. Being impulsive, children with ADHD may also do and say things without really thinking about them and without considering the consequences of their actions.

There are different types of ADHD. Children with ADHD who have a short attention span, hyperactivity and who are impulsive are said to have a combined type of ADHD. Children may also have inattentive ADHD, with just the short attention span, or a predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD with just the hyperactivity and/or impulsivity.

It is important to remember that ADHD is not the only medical condition that can cause the above symptoms. Children with anxiety, depression or a learning disability can also have a short attention span and be hyperactive and/or impulsive.

Your Pediatrician or school psychologist can interview and test your child for ADHD and come up with a treatment plan to help her succeed.

Improving School Performance


After discussing your child's school performance with her teachers or other professionals and ensuring that she doesn't have a learning disability or other medical problems that is causing her to perform poorly, some steps that you can take to help her do better include:

  • Become actively involved in your child's schoolwork, by talking with her teachers, reviewing homework, and helping with study strategies.
  • Develop a daily study routine for after school, during which she can study and do her homework.
  • Help her become better organized:
    • Use clear directions.
    • Use colors, heading size or highlighting to help important concepts stand out.
    • Vary the type of activities to keep her interested.
    • Consider getting a tutor at school or a private tutor to help boost performance.
    • Prepare a quite environment for her to do her homework, without the distraction of a TV, stereo or siblings.
    • Make sure that she has enough time to complete her homework and that she isn't too involved in extracurricular activities or an afterschool job.
    • For children with below average intelligence, learning disabilities or ADHD, be an advocate for your child by making sure that the school is providing the proper education modifications to help her succeed.
    • Avoid creating a power struggle over homework and school performance. If there is already a power struggle and your child's grades are worsening as she is becoming more defiant about school work, you can try and withdraw yourself from the conflict by making your child responsible for her performance. Make time available for her to do her schoolwork by limiting television or video game use. You may also want to provide incentives or rewards for improved school performance and removing other privileges, such as phone or car use, until her grades improve.

    School Strategies

    There are many classroom modifications that can be put in place to help improve school performance, memory and attention, impulse control, organization, and self esteem. You should discuss implementing these techniques with your children's teachers.

  • Improving memory and attention span:
    • Seat the child in an area with the least amount of distractions, near the teacher if possible. Consider using a study carrel, especially for independent work and keep her work area uncluttered.
    • Make instructions clear and unambiguous.
    • Keep oral instructions brief and repeat them at least once.
    • Consider providing written instructions and directions to supplement oral instructions.
    • Use visual aids.
    • Break up instructions, assignments and homework into small steps.
    • Improve reading comprehension by teaching her to underline key words or topics with a highlighter.
    • Improve listening comprehension by teaching her to take notes of key concepts.
    • Provide special signals or cues to remind her to get back on task.
  • Improving organizational skills:
    • Establish a daily checklist of assignments.
    • Keep a special notebook in which she can record homework assignments, project or report due dates, and test schedules.
  • Improving productivity:
    • Divide work sheets and assignments into sections.
    • Reduce the amount of homework and written classwork, especially repetitive assignments such as math problems and spelling words that she can do accurately.
    • Vary the type of activities that she is doing.
    • Vary the way that material is presented.
    • Provide one on one instruction or small groups to introduce major concepts.
  • Improving performance:
  • Provide extra time to complete assignments and tests.
  • Consider providing oral testing instead of or in addition to written tests.
  • Remind the student to slow down.
  • Give extra weight to the content of an assignment when grading, and do not take off points for poor handwriting or minor spelling errors.
  • Protecting self esteem:
    • Avoid humiliating children who perform poorly in front of the other children.
    • Give positive feedback when she stays on task, pays attention or works hard at an assignment.
    • Find things that she has special interest or strength in and encourage her to do these activities.
  • Improving behavior and impulse control:
    • Provide special signals or cues when she is beginning to misbehave.
    • Give clear expectations of what behaviors are expected in the classroom.
    • Be consistent in your expectations and in the consequences for misbehavior.

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