Tips to Help a Child with ADHD Excel in School

ADHDI’m excited to share this guest post by wellness coach, Vee Cecil. Vee Cecil is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor. Vee is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her recently-launched blog, and you can also connect with her on Twitter. She writes a variety of topics including wellness with Autism and Alzheimer’s and also has a passion for the holistic perceptive which she shares on her blog.

I love hearing different perspectives with regards to a variety of topics. Whether you are a therapist, doctor, coach or any other profession, we all have our own perspectives on how to address specific issues and disabilities. Most importantly, as a parent we also have different perspectives which helps to be better advocates for our children. Check out her article below and the links to helpful resources.

Thank you Vee!

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders, and it can last throughout adolescence and adulthood. Common ADHD symptoms include hyperactivity and having difficulty remaining focused, paying attention, and controlling behavior. While the average age of ADHD onset is seven years old, ADHD affects 4.1% of American adults and 9% of American kids ages 13 to 18. Boys are four times more at risk of developing ADHD than girls. There are three subtypes of ADHD: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive.

Hyperactive-Impulsive Students

In a classroom setting, students who are predominantly hyperactive-impulsive stand out more to teachers. These students often have difficulty sitting still in their seats, talk constantly, run around, touch and play with everything they see, squirm and fidget in their seats, and struggle with quiet tasks or activities. Children who trend more toward the impulsivity side of ADHD are impatient, interrupt others’ activities or conversations, struggle to wait for their turn or to wait for something they want, make inappropriate comments, and act without concern for consequences.

Inattentive Students

It is important for teachers and parents to recognize children who have symptoms of being predominantly inattentive as well, especially because they may sit quietly and never act out or have trouble making friends. It is easier to overlook children who are predominantly inattentive for these reasons, but they often are easily distracted, forgetful, and miss details. This type of ADHD student also struggles to focus on one thing and becomes bored with tasks after a short time if he is not doing something he enjoys. Often, these students have difficulty focusing their attention to complete tasks and learn new things, and lose the materials needed to complete tasks. They daydream frequently and do not seem to listen when someone speaks to them. These kids also struggle to process information quickly and accurately and to follow instructions.

While school can be a challenge for students with ADHD, they can certainly excel when given the help and resources needed to do so. Here are a few tips for teachers and parents of children with ADHD:

1. Organization, Routine, and Praise at Home

One of the most important things parents of ADHD children can do to help them excel at school is to get them organized at home. Supplying them with folders and notebook organizers, including backpacks and pencil boxes, goes a long way with helping students be organized and prepared for school. Parents can also make it easier for their children to complete assignments at home by designating a quiet, distraction-free room of the home for them to do homework. It’s best if this area is outside the child’s bedroom so that it remains an area for relaxation and rest.

Parents also should stick to a routine each day, so that ADHD children know what to expect and get into the habit of packing their school bag and checking for completed assignments, keeping their bag near their shoes, and being ready in the morning. Positive reinforcement works wonders with ADHD children who grow accustomed to criticism.

2. Communicate with School and Teachers

Parents need to advocate for their children and communicate their needs to teachers and school personnel. And, parents need to listen to school officials and teachers to make the communication between home and school constructive. Consistent communication with specific information is key to helping kids with ADHD excel at school. Start the communication as early as possible, even before the start of the school year, so that you can plan ahead to help your child. Identify specific, attainable goals and make a plan for reaching them. Share the information that will best equip the teacher and school personnel for understanding and helping your child.

3. Be Realistic About Your Child’s Strengths

In traditional school settings, children are expected to sit still, be attentive, and concentrate on tasks even though the environment itself is often incredibly distracting. When meeting with teachers and thinking about your goals for your child’s academic career, focus on his strengths, in order to keep the conversation more positive. Think about the activities your child enjoys and what her strongest subject is, and devote your energy to developing her strengths and building her self-esteem for the future.

4. Replace Criticism with Compassion

Both parents and teachers should keep in mind that children with ADHD don’t intentionally forget homework, lose assignments, or disrupt class. While ADHD can be extremely frustrating for the adults, they must remember that ADHD makes school extremely difficult for the children. Negative consequences are not conducive to helping children with ADHD. Rather, adults need to frame student’s struggles in the context of ADHD and implement behavior plans or positive reinforcements that are appropriate. And while it may seem like an extreme step, parents might consider bringing a four-legged friend into the mix. Dogs are great for our mental health and offer a way to provide the kind of non-judgmental, unconditional compassion that children with ADHD find it difficult to get outside the home.

Taking a team approach to helping a child with ADHD excel at school helps to keep the lines of communication open between home and school and ensures that everyone works in the best interests of the child.

Check out these great links to resources!

9 Ways to Help Your Child with ADHD
National Institute of Mental Health
How Dogs Help People with ADHD
American Academy of Pediatrics’ ADHD Clinical Practice Guidelines
Inattentive ADHD
Environmental Strategies for Living with ADHD
ADHD and School
Parenting a Child with ADHD



  1. Thank you for the advice. I had ADHD when I was in school and it was never easy. I probably still have it as an adult but it is much easier to handle now. My kids just got diagnosed with ADHD and I really want to make sure that they are getting the help they need. I will have to talk with his teachers this fall and let them know what kind of help he may need. I will also try and remember to show him compassion and patience. I think that will help him a lot if I try to make sure he feels good about himself.

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