I wonder how your child feels with school looming after the Christmas break?
Excited, hopeful, enthusiastic, eager.
Anxious, worried, fearful, scared, bored, disinterested, angry.
I’m guessing more of the latter.
Our children with ADHD find school a difficult environment. Regimented, full of rules, strict. Zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour. An environment so directly opposed to what our children with ADHD actually need; opportunities for movement, help with organisation, spontaneous ideas, hyper-focus on motivating activities, opportunities to learn and record in unique ways.
This is not the fault of the teachers. They are doing their best. But they’re just not trained. They don’t understand ADHD and so they don’t get it.
Your child will not respond to the school’s Behaviour Policy as punishments don’t work. Their brain is wired differently. The neurons do not fire consistently so the messages are just not reaching the part of the brain that will help your child focus, make good decisions, be organised or stay on task.
So for a teacher to shout and punish will only serve to make your child feel rubbish, feel a failure, get angry and be turned off learning. We know that our children are lagging behind emotionally and developmentally. Would a teacher ask an asthmatic child to run faster, a child with motor difficulties to climb higher? No. So why are our children expected to focus and concentrate more when clearly this is as much as a disability?
Our children are shamed in front of their peers, other adults. Called out for not listening, not focussing, not being on task. As if this is a deliberate ploy. It is not. Your child is smart, clever, intuitive, eager to learn. But too often the environment just is not right and so our children struggle and then are punished. Blamed and shamed.
I hear so often that a child is kept in at break because s/he hasn’t finished their work. This is so wrong.
It is the responsibility of the teacher to deliver the work in such a way that your child can achieve it. If s/he fails to complete it then I would ask what could have been done differently to enable success. Work broken up into chunks, use a variety of different ways to record, sit in an uncluttered and calm area, use checklists or audio prompts to keep on task…..
The list is endless of ‘reasonable adjustments’ that a teacher can make to enable a child to achieve.
Break time is an opportunity to socialise and form relationships and should not be taken away. How is your child going to feel if they are punished and see their peers laughing and playing whilst s/he is stuck inside? Not conducive to focussing on the next lesson.
Similarly, our older children who are excluded from class and sent to ‘detention’ rooms are blamed and shamed for their behaviour or attitude. Detentions and exclusions serve no purpose for our children with ADHD other than to shame, blame, make your child feel worthless and shatter self-esteem. The names of these rooms explicitly give our children the message that they are no good; isolation, exclusion. In September 2018 the horrendous use of isolation booths were described as barbaric where children were forced to stay and sit for hours unstimulated with no teaching.
Our children are not being deliberately difficult. They will not change their behaviour for fear of a punishment. They need support to help them with the things they find difficult. If we from an early age at school support them, help them achieve, make them feel amazing then perhaps by the time they get to Secondary School they will not be turned off learning and become disruptive.
Let’s get it right.
And you as a parent can help:-
Set up a REGULAR meeting
There needs to be great communication with you and the class teacher or form tutor. Make this regular to keep on top of things so you are not just called in as a reactive measure when things have gone wrong.
One page document
Prepare a document that clearly describes what your child finds difficult and then things you know help. Include things that motivate your child and ways s/he can be given opportunities to be successful and shine. Do not assume that the teacher will discover these things. It is up to you to be as clear as possible what ‘reasonable adjustments’ you feel should be happening. Your child does not need a diagnosis for this to be in place. Click here for a copy.
Educate about ADHD
Teachers do not receive specific training on ADHD at university. Shocking isn’t it, particularly as according to NHS England at least 5% of the population will have this genetic, neurological condition. So email them a copy of these great posters from Additude Magazine and ADHD Foundation.
It is vital that all teachers are trained and understand ADHD. Teachers must know that blaming and shaming will cause damage to your child’s emotional well-being. It is now estimated that 1 in 10 of young people will have mental health problems. That is horrendous. We want our children to feel amazing, successful, listened to and loved. The biggest killer of men under the age of 45 is suicide. It’s up to us to change this. Please email this poster on to your child’s SENCO and to contact me for training for the whole staff.
I hope that helps
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