ADHD back to school time is just around the corner. The long days of summer have started to wind down and your thoughts have begun to shift towards school preparation. The school year is just ahead, what do you need to do now to prepare for it?
If you haven’t thought about school, you should start now. The beginning of a new school year marks a large transition point in the year for most families. From new clothes to new school supplies, new events, and new activities, so many things need to take place that you really need to plan ahead to be sure you get everything completed.
In this article, we want to breakdown the essential ADHD back to school preparation guide. School makes a significant change in the lives of kids, parents, and whole families. After all, school makes up the majority of your child’s day and week.
In order to best face a new school year, you need to prepare both your kids and your family well. Use the tips outlined below to get yourself ready for the new opportunities of starting a school year.
Talk to Your Child’s Teacher Early
The first pivotal piece of ADHD back to school advice hinges on talking to your child’s teacher early. Communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD can be a daunting endeavor for many parents. Some parents, though, just don’t even think about contacting the teacher until after the school year begins. Whatever the reason, not initiating the conversation can prove to be a big mistake.
In many ways, your child’s teacher acts as your biggest ally in managing ADHD symptoms during the school day. How you go about parent teacher communication can make a significant difference on your child’s experience in the classroom. In talking with your child’s teacher, you can give them advance notice of your child’s ADHD and what to be on the lookout for. You can also plan strategies with your child’s teacher that might work best for your child to manage ADHD symptoms.
You should plan to make contact with your child’s teacher at least a week or two before school begins. If your school has an open house, you should try to make this event and bring your child so that you can all speak together.
Additionally, when meeting with a teacher, set times to follow up with them whether in person or on the phone the first week of school and the weeks following. You want to keep open lines of communication ongoing so you can continue to work on any issues that may come up.
Find Out What Accommodations Might Be Available
Part of your getting ready for ADHD back to school should include identifying what accommodations might be available. This step should follow after talking to your child’s teacher. This step comes second because your teacher might be the best resource to direct you towards the right accommodation resources.
Even if you don’t have any immediate plans to make use of accommodations, you should still find out which ones might be available. Your child may not have needed them in the past, but with the start of a new grade level, things might change. Find out what options you may have and learn how to go about putting them into action.
You may start the school without the accommodations in place, and then chose to put them in place later. Finding out your options beforehand, though, will make the process easier when you really need it.
Plan and Practice Your School Day Routine
As we all know so well, practice makes perfect. The same could be said about your school day routine. After a few summer months away from school, your kids need a refresher course in what a school day looks like.
To get your kids back in shape for school, you need to include practicing your school routine as part of your ADHD back to school plan. This can be all the more important if your kids are transitioning to a different school building, altogether. The week before school, you should practice a run through of the school day.
If your kids take the bus, you should take them and show them the bus stop as if it was a normal school day morning. If you drive them to school, you should get them up and ready and take them by the school. You also should practice showing them where to be picked up in the afternoon or where they go to catch the bus. While this might seem quite involved for practice, you will appreciate it as soon as actual school starts and your kids know what to do.
Have a Few Practice Runs of your Nightly School Routine
Not only do you need to get your kid’s ready for the school day routine, you also need to prep them for new nightly rituals. ADHD back to school means the whole day changes, not just the time from when they leave to go to school and return home. With the start of school, mornings and evenings look different as well.
A week or two before the start of school you should have a few practice runs of what your nightly school routine should entail. These practice runs should include everything that would normally happen on a school night. Now, while your kids might complain about these practice drills, ultimately, they will get everyone more prepared.
As part of your practice, make sure that your kids have their afternoon snack, have some exercise time, have some time set aside for study and homework, and then have dinner and preparation for bed. Since your kids don’t have homework from school yet, you can have some time set aside for reading or self-learning. However you structure it, you should make sure the practice runs come as close as possible to what a regular school night might look like.
Get Back on a School Sleep Schedule
Everyone loves summer months for their long days and short nights. For kids, usually this means staying up much later than they normally would. While it might be ok to push back bedtime hours every now and then, your kids really need a healthy rhythm of sleep.
Not only do we all need sleep, our bodies really need a regular and consistent sleep schedule. Studies have indicated that young children who don’t have a regular bedtime might develop more slowly than other children and have more trouble academically. Additionally, having a regular sleep schedule has been shown to improve concentration and other mental processes as well as help with weight control and immunity. Also, problems with sleep have traditionally been associated with ADHD symptoms.
To set your kids up to succeed with their ADHD back to school, you need to make sure they start going to bed and waking up as if they were in school several weeks before they need to. The extended time frame gives them time to catch up and adjust to the set routine. If they have been sleeping at odd hours, it might take several days or weeks to get their bodies to rest at the new times.
As a result, you need to be patient and work slowing toward your goal of getting on a school sleep routine. For help and tips on getting your kids back into a regular schedule, check out our post on creating an ADHD sleep routine.
Start Planning Your Meal Schedule Early
In addition to a healthy sleep schedule, your kids need a nutritious diet to get their brains focused and on point. A part of your ADHD back to school plan should include planning nutritious meals well ahead of time. For a successful plan, you need to plan out a healthy breakfast, good lunch options, a quality afterschool snack, and well-rounded dinners.
While this might feel like a lot to plan for, if you get started early it won’t become too overwhelming. A week or two before school begins, sit down and map out a weekly meal schedule. You should at least cover the first week of school, and maybe the first couple of weeks if you feel ambitious.
Part of your schedule should include healthy quick breakfast ideas that avoid sugar, processed foods, and additives. If you can plan out meals you can make the night before, you get bonus points for efficiency. If your kids bring their lunches to school, plan out healthy lunch meals that include fruits, vegetables, and nuts as much as possible.
For after school, think of healthy creative snacks for ADHD that will boost your kids focus levels and not pull them down. Finally, plan out healthy dinners as much as possible. As school approaches, go to the grocery store and the weekend before school starts do as much prep work as possible to make school days and nights go more smoothly.
Create a Calendar for Everyone to See
Your ADHD back to school plans should primarily focus on two things: preparation and organization. These two things come together perfectly in your calendar. If used well, calendars can provide a great tool to bring your schedule together perfectly. If used poorly, they can become oppressive, overwhelming, and stressful.
For your ADHD back to school calendar, you’ll want to create a calendar that includes the important activities for each family member each week. Don’t try to get down to the nitty gritty details, but rather focus on the bigger picture items. Put things on the calendar such as times to leave for school each day, dinner meal times, sleep times, and then any important schedule or event such as sports practice or after school club.
Depending on your activity load and personal preference, you can either make a calendar for each week or each month. To get started with developing a family calendar, check out the tips at this link.
Once you have a calendar in place, you need to be sure to look at it and refer to it daily. Additionally, make sure your kids look at it and ask them to tell you things that are on it so you know they know what’s going on. Use the calendar as a daily reminder of the schedule you want to keep to keep your household running.
The school year can present scheduling issues with so much going on. With a calendar, you can always double check what you have going on so as to not overbook or run into issues. For more strategies on building a calendar, check out our tips on how to avoid overbooking your calendar.
Prepare Your Kids for the New Social Environment
There are few things in a kid’s life as exciting, hectic, and potentially overwhelming as the start of a new school year. A new school year typically brings with it a new classroom and a new social environment. While your kids will probably know several of their classmates, the social landscape still will have changed.
In light of this, as part of your ADHD back to school plan, you need to prepare your kids for adjusting to a new social climate. Typically, social skills and interactions do not come naturally for people with ADHD. Kids with ADHD especially have trouble socializing. As a result, people with ADHD have to work harder to learn and improve their social skills.
Every social setting brings with it new challenges and issues. One of the biggest challenges in a school setting is just fitting in. To help your child fit in and feel more comfortable around their peers, make an effort to try to connect with other families in your child’s class. If your school has a back to school or open house night, go to it with your child and meet other parents and kids. Encourage your child to discuss their interests with other children and form relationships early.
As a parent, you should connect with other parents and continue the conversation through the school year. The more social connections you make, the easier your child will be able to effectively transition into their new social environment. Additionally, as possible issues come up later such as bullying, you will have formed the necessary relationships to work through those issues well.
Master ADHD Back to School and Prep Both Yourself and Your Kids
The time for ADHD back to school can be stressful for both parents and kids alike. With all the changes that come with a new school year, just thinking about getting prepared can feel overwhelming. Hopefully this article has helped to provide you with some tools and resources to prepare well.
You don’t have to let a new school year catch you and your family off guard. By thinking about getting ready and preparing beforehand, you can help make the transition smooth and stress free.
With a new school year approaching, we recommend starting to plan as soon as possible. Get your kids on board and excited about school. As the parent, you can help guide the direction the new school year takes. Take initiative and have fun with it.