Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) struggle with tasks like sitting still, controlling emotion, paying attention and following instructions. This leads to challenges at school, where children are required to perform these tasks all day long.

To deal with these challenges, children with ADHD need consistent help managing their symptoms. As a parent, there are few strategies you can implement that will help your child succeed in school. To make the best use of these strategies, we must first understand how ADHD affects their school life.

How does adhd impact school life?

While there are different types of ADHD , the condition generally affects a child’s executive functioning — these are the everyday skills that people use to control their behaviour. Linked to executive functioning, children with ADHD also struggle with their working memory — their ability to temporarily hold information. Poor working memory has one of the strongest influences on learning, according to research published in the Journal of International Neuropsychology.

ADHD affects more than one’s ability to learn. Due to behavioural difficulties, children with ADHD are often treated as troublemakers by teachers who don’t understand their condition. These factors, when combined with poor academic achievement, can cause students to feel isolated from their peers. Social isolation and feelings of inferiority are key reasons why kids with ADHD experience high levels of anxiety and depression — as revealed by research published in BMC Pediatrics.

Understanding the impact of ADHD is the first step to supporting your child in school. For more insights into how the condition affects children, read our guide to helping children with AHDH overcome their learning difficulties. For specific strategies, here are 7 ways to support your child in school.

1.  focus on your child's mental health

Mental health refers to the way children feel and think about themselves and the world around them. The stronger their mental health, the more likely they’ll cope with stress at school. Good mental health will also help them feel positive about themselves. Tips to improve mental health include:


  • Frequently expressing love through words and physical actions like making eye contact, hugging and smiling at your child.
  • Using positive, constructive and consistent language.
  • Spending time doing activities that your child enjoys.
  • Providing healthy food and helping them maintain a regular sleep cycle — these factors have a huge impact on mental health.
  • Be patient and calm when interacting with your child.
  • Making time each day to talk and listen to your child. Be sure to talk about their emotions and challenges.

When talking to your child, be sure to validate the difficult thoughts and feelings they are experiencing without being quick to offer opinions or solutions. Validating their emotions does not mean having to agree with their actions. Instead, it’s a process that helps your child feel understood while opening up opportunities to teach them how to cope with challenging feelings.

2. speak to teachers and request special accommodations

Speak with your child’s teachers to help them understand your child’s condition. Teachers may be able to provide accommodations to help your child complete tasks, such as shortening assignments or providing extra time for tests. Their support is crucial in implementing the rest of the strategies on this list.

3. create a behavioural plan

Setting clear structure and expectations will go a long way towards helping your child manage their behaviour. Work with your child’s teachers to recognise behaviours that require improvement and build a plan that targets these behaviours. Specific goals and daily positive reinforcement are key, as is rewarding good behaviour and removing privileges for bad behaviour. Use your plan to manage impulsivity and interruptions but don't be too strict or harsh. Children with ADHD tend not to adapt as well as their peers so expect setbacks and be willing to make compromises.

For support creating your plan, consider securing an ADHD learning and behaviour assessment from an educational specialist like Thomson Kids. These assessments identify your child’s difficulties before recommending strategies for managing their behaviour.

4. build working memory

Working memory helps us follow conversations, read, write, plan and follow conversations. Leverage the following strategies to help build your child’s working memory:

  • Ensure your child focuses on one thing at a time.
  • In lessons and in life, break big chunks of information into small, bite-sized pieces.
  • Improve retention with memory tricks, such as acronyms or mnemonics. Use pictures and stories so that new information is meaningfully stored as long-term memory
  • Write key facts on strips of poster board and stick them to walls at school or home.
  • Create a chart with multiplication tables or other rules on their desk.
  • Use checklists for tasks with multiple steps. Teach your child to annotate and highlight keywords and main ideas in his work.

5. remove distractions

Children with ADHD are easily distracted by noises, passersby and their own thoughts. Maintaining focus often requires sustained mental effort, which also affects their ability to take in information. Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Ensure your child engages in physical activity during the day.
  • Ask for short breaks in the middle of lessons and divide information into small, bite-sized chunks.
  • Have your child seated away from sources of distraction like windows or doors.
  • Ask that important information is written down so that your child can easily reference it.

6. help them follow directions

Has your child ever submitted incomplete tasks or misunderstood an assignment? This is a common issue for kids with ADHD and relates to difficulties following directions.

Support them by breaking instructions down into actionable steps. Keep instructions brief and tell them to complete one step at a time. Ensure each step is written down and easy to refer to.

7. use assistive tools and technology

There are many apps and assistive tools that help children with ADHD cope in school. Children who struggle to write down their thoughts but have no problem speaking them, for instance, may benefit from a speech-to-text app. Kids who need assistance managing their time may benefit from setting an alarm on their watch or smartphone. Even the simplest tool can provide critical assistance.

seeking specialist help from an adhd assessment & learning centre

Specialised early education centres offer ADHD learning assessments that pinpoint your child’s learning and behavioural challenges. Leading centres offer tailored courses and behavioural therapy that are specifically designed to improve executive functioning and help your child cope in school.

Some centres also offer parent training. This brings parents into the process and shows them how praise, positive reinforcement and enforcing consistent consequences can teach children to regulate their behaviour. For many families, parent training is crucial to building a functional and happy family dynamic.

At Thomson Kids, we leverage over 40 years of experience in children’s health to provide accurate ADHD assessments and effective instruction for children with ADHD. We’ve worked closely with many parents to build personalised strategies that help manage their child’s ADHD symptoms.

Want to learn more about our ADHD learning assessments or how we can help your child overcome their school challenges? Click the link below to get in touch.

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