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Girls Viewing School as a Positive Turning Point

School Can Be a Positive Turning Point

Children with ADHD have often had some negative experiences leading up to their diagnosis. Often, it is their behavior in classroom or structured settings that led parents and health providers to exploring their neurological diversity in the first place.

If students with ADHD are coming from environments where they have frequently received negative attention (or even punishment) for their symptoms, there is a good chance that they have negative associations with educational settings.

 
 

Avoid Negative Feedback

Children show exacerbated symptoms when they are faced with criticism, and experts estimate that a child with ADHD receives an average of 20,000 more negative comments than their neurologically typical peers by age 12. This mountain of negative feedback can leave a new educational environment looming large. Children might fear that a new school will simply be one more place where they won't fit in and will face failure. This can cause anxiety for both them and their parents/caregivers.

However, school also offers the potential to change the conversation and shift perspectives. If students find the right educational environment and are surrounded by supportive educators who understand ADHD, school can be a turning point in students' lives, representing a place where they feel recognized and capable.

 

Supportive Educational Environments

Creating a supportive place for learners with ADHD is a multi-faceted endeavor that focuses on all aspects of the environment. From the physical layout of the room to the training of the teachers to the culture of the school community, there are many steps that can be taken to improve conditions.

Prevent Bullying

Children with ADHD are often at a heightened risk for bullying. Common traits like impulsivity, underdeveloped social and emotional skills, and clumsiness all make a child a target for bullying. Educational environments that take bullying seriously and make real effort to prevent bullying before it begins offer opportunities for supportive environments.

Schools can address bullying by having clear, fair policies and enforcing them consistently. They can also prevent bullying by investing in socioemotional learning (SEL) for all students and staff.

Set Up the Classroom

A classroom designed for ADHD learners will include tools and systems that both provide support for meeting expectations and flexibility in how those expectations are met.

  • Alternative seating like pillows on the floor, exercise balls, and chairs with rubber bands on the legs can provide sensory input.
  • Visual schedules for everyday routines can help keep learners on track.
  • Space to move around and opportunities to take advantage of it throughout the day can help learners focus.

Train Teachers

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of an ADHD-friendly educational environment is ensuring that educators have the tools and training to adequately address neurological differences.

Schools that invest in professional development focused on ADHD learners and hire teachers for their proven track record with teaching neurologically diverse student groups help create a welcoming environment.

Preparing for a New School

Just as there are many steps a school can take to make sure that it is welcoming for learners with ADHD, there are also many steps learners and their parents/caregivers can take to make sure they are prepared for a new educational environment.

Communicate Often and Honestly

One of the best things that parents can do to help their children prepare for a new educational environment is to communicate often and honestly with the teacher. Sometimes parents are reluctant to share their child's previous struggles for fear they will set the new teacher up to look for trouble. This may be an understandable reaction, but it will often lead to a lack of understanding that could have been avoided with more information from the beginning.

If there are specific tips, tricks, or accommodations that help a child learn, parents should let teachers know that as soon as possible. Implementing these strategies from day one will help to demonstrate to the child that this is an environment that is welcoming and well-suited for their needs.

Celebrate Successes Both Big and Small

Another step that caregivers can take to help their children prepare for a new school environment is to focus on the positives and celebrate them. Positive reinforcement will help the child associate the new educational setting with success. This is especially important for learners who have had negative feedback from previous educational settings. Helping them to see that they can be successful is crucial to building self-esteem and a strong sense of self-worth.

Get Things Ready at Home

Parents can find out what tools and systems are going to be used in the new school and do the best they can to use them at home for continuity. For example, if the school is using a visual schedule for daily activities, a similar one could be used at home for before- and after-school activities. If the school provides alternative seating options for class work, caregivers might consider similar seating options for their child's workspace at home. Building similarities between home and school will make transitions less jarring and allow students to practice their skills wherever they are.

School Can Be the Start of Something Great

Getting into a new educational environment can be just the thing a student with ADHD needs to improve their self-perception and self-esteem. Finding the right environment makes a big difference. At Kentwood Preparatory School we believe in creating an atmosphere where children with ADHD can reach their full potential, see themselves as successful, and start off on an path that will allow them to realize their dreams.

Call (561) 649-6141 to ask how we can help.

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