HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - North Alabama parents are in their third or fourth week of distance learning - and many of them are finding out for the first time what their children’s teachers see every day. This can be especially true for parents of ADHD students. We spoke with Dr. Greg Mattingly about it. “For the first time a lot of parents are home educators. We’re observing things only teachers or counselors have seen before, the frustrations our child might have with a certain subject. The fact that they get distracted more easily than we realized they did."
Dr. Mattingly says it’s important to recognize that ADHD is a real disorder that impacts a person’s ability to focus on tasks. It’s not laziness, it’s not lack of motivation and it’s not disobedience. The most common symptoms can manifest themselves as forgetfulness or difficulties with time management. “I’ll ask a mom - ‘What’s it like when you send a kid up to the bedroom and you give them three things to do? Pick up the floor, make up your bed, bring down your backpack.’ A kid with ADHD - quite often a mom will look at me and say ‘I’m lucky to get the first one. I go up there and he’s standing around playing with Legos and he never got from step one to step two.’"
Dr. Mattingly says it is possible for ADHD students to excel in these unique conditions - but parents have to know how to structure things to meet their needs.
- - Don’t forget the importance of structure. A school is structured in a certain way based on how children learn best. Structure your home environment similarly. Enforce bedtime, meal time and wakeup time.
- - Frontload the fun. Figure out which class your child likes the best, and seems to be the most knowledgeable about. Do that class first. That sets a positive tone for the rest of the classes afterwards.
- - The most challenging class should be near the end of the lesson plan. That’s when concentration seems to be at it’s peak for children with ADHD.
- - Don’t forget physical exercise. It’s part of school and it should be part of your home learning routine too for at least 30 minutes.
- - Affirmation is critical. All of us do well with positive reinforcement and this is especially true for ADHD students, according to Dr. Mattingly. He suggests a 5:1 ratio of positive affirmations to constructive criticisms.
- - Model your behavior. If you run around frazzled and stressed, your child will pick up on that and feel it too.