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It is estimated that around 3 to 5% of children in the UK are diagnosed with ADHD. It is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions of childhood and mostly affects the ability to focus and the ability to process information.

Students with ADHD may face some difficulties at school, which is why we have put together some top tips from our SEND experts – so parents can support their children at home and ensure their academic journey is as smooth and positive as possible.

How to support children with ADHD

Create structure

Children with ADHD need clear routine patterns and a clear structure. This will help them to understand expectations and manage their time more effectively. Top tips include:

  • Avoid chaotic settings and distractions as much as possible
  • Set up a homework or study area
  • Do homework every day at the same time
  • Encourage them to participate in house chores (a great app to help you do this is Happy Kids Timer Family Chores)
  • Make sure you leave time and space for fun activities everyday

Set rules, but leave space for flexibility

Rules are essential to create a structure and routine; however, being extremely rigid can be counterproductive. Building in some flexibility to adapt to your child’s moods shows that you care about their feelings and value their individualism. Some books that might be helpful to navigate this topic are Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents by Russell A. Barkley or 1000 Best Tips for ADHD: Expert Answers and Bright Advice to Help You and Your Child, by Susan Ashely.

Example: Homework time is always at 4pm. However, if your child is feeling a little frustrated, you can allow them to play for a little longer after their homework or choose a fun activity for the evening.

Break tasks into chunks

Students can get overwhelmed easily if their tasks are too long or have too much information. Breaking them into small chunks can help them manage it much better and process the information more easily.

Example: If they are expected to read three chapters of a book and answer some questions for homework, try to divide the reading and introduce little breaks in between. If there are 10 questions, do two or three at a time.

Allow breaks

One of the main aspects of ADHD is the difficulty to focus for prolonged periods of time. Make sure that you allow your child to have enough breaks to avoid them feeling overwhelmed. If they present signs of struggle while completing a task, try taking a break to do something else instead and come back to it after a little while.

Example: Set a timer for 15 minutes to complete a maths task. When the timer goes off, take a pause for a snack or for some physical activity for another 15 minutes and, after that, return to the task to complete it.

Encourage out loud thinking

Thinking out loud can be a great way to process information. When doing homework, this can be a great tool to help your child figure out what they’re doing and why. This process will lead to self-reflection and can be a good coping mechanism for challenging situations.

Example: “It seems like this task is a bit difficult for you. Why don’t you tell me what specific things you are struggling to understand and how you think you can resolve them?”

Nourish their individual interests

Children with ADHD can be very enthusiastic, passionate, and creative individuals. Supporting their interests beyond academic studies will develop their emotional wellbeing and self-esteem. A fantastic list of books specifically for children with ADHD can be found in this link.

Be mindful of screen time

Whilst technology can be a great support for their education, children with ADHD tend to fixate on certain things, which can lead to negative consequences. A great tip for how to support children with ADHD is to set timers and encourage other types of activities. Some educational apps that can be used during screen time are Khan Academy Kids or Reading Eggs.

Emotional support

Some children with ADHD may feel frustrated, inadequate, or upset due to the difficulties they may face at school. Making sure they feel supported is crucial to avoid self-esteem and confidence issues. Positive feedback, words of praise, and acknowledgement of their effort can go a long way! It is important to focus on the positive aspects and provide guidance in the areas where they struggle the most. For extensive information on this, head to ADDtitude.

Example: “I know this task was really hard and I am proud of you for trying your best, you did a great job! Would you like us to work together on this particular thing?”

Encourage calm down time

Some children with ADHD might present some difficulties winding down after experiencing high levels of energy. Mindfulness, yoga or breathing exercises can be good options to encourage them to calm down and relax. Some useful apps for this are Calm or Headspace.

The Golden Circle has a team of qualified SEND team, including SENCos and literacy specialists. For more information on the SEN support we offer, please get in touch via email [email protected] or using the contact form on our website.