Now that summer is over, the start of a new school year often means added anxiety and stress for the whole family. With COVID, it's worse as your child may be juggling remote and in-class days where it's easy to lose track of things.And for juniors and seniors it's even more stressful given the total chaos of standardized testing and choosing and applying to college. It will likely be rough in school or at home, but these 5 tips will make this a better year.
1. Set Goals for the Year
Now that school has started, you have a sense of what the year will look like. It's a good time to set some reasonable and attainable goals for the school year. This will set the tone at home and give clear expectations that can lead to a successful academic year. Remember that for a child or teen with ADHD goals need to be short and specific. They could revolve around completing assignments and actually turning them in; getting ready for school on time without a meltdown; good behavior, or getting to bed on time. This one is especially important with teens.
Goals are great, but the anticipation of rewards enhances motivation for achieving goals. Reward and celebrate when your student meets goals. Not sure how to reward them? It differs with age, but rewards can come in all forms. Maybe for younger kids its dessert or a trip to the ice cream store (with masks) or extra video time. For teens maybe if they have gone to bed on time all week they get to stay up late on the weekend. For getting homework done and turned in on time you they could earn more time on the computer or get a later curfew.
The start of the day can be rough. I always aim for the morning to go smoothly as it sets the tone for the whole day. To that end, I often make a list--or actually have my kids make one--of the things that need to happen. That can include choosing clothes the night before (key for teen girls!), organizing their backpacks or making sure all they need is by the front door (if school is on campus). From there we figure out how much time each task will take and err on the side of more. From there, they determine a schedule.
Again rewards work well. Consider a family activity to celebrate if you are everyone is successful for a week (or a month) .
Afternoons can include after–school activities like a run or a walk, seeing friends outside, chores, homework, reading, dinner, and getting ready for bed. While mornings are usually the same from the day–to–day, you may have a varying schedule after school.
4. Set up a Study Schedule
Work with your child or teen to establish a homework routine that works for all concerned. See what works best for her. That means discussing and maybe negotiating. With our teens, we need to allow for the fact that they know themselves really well by now, maybe even better than we sometimes do.
Is she going to have free time before doing homework? Agree to the time homework should begin and a schedule for completing daily or weekly assignments for each subject as well as a bigger plan to complete any larger projects. If your child has a lot of homework, you may want to schedule some brief breaks in between subjects.
You also need to think about and choose how you will be involved in checking for accuracy, completeness and handing it in. Develop a system that works for her to keep track of assignments and their completion.
5. Schedule Daily "Fun Time" with Your Child
We are so busy as parents, and right now, we may spend a lot of time helping and taking care of our kids and virtual school in addition to working and running a household. I know that I feel pretty depleted and down right now. And some days, you may feel defeated or like you can't "adult" one more day. Try to remember that from time to time, your child most likely feels the same way
Try to take a few minutes each day--even just 10-- to chat and do something fun together. Teens may not want to but it builds a stronger connection for all of us. So if they are reluctant, just do what they are doing. You can offer to play a short game, bake something together, read, toss a frisbee--the list is endless. Just find a few minutes for you all to chill. Or take time with each kid on their own.
Take One Day at a Time
Finally, take it one day at a time. Take time for yourself to relax during the day and appreciate the small, good moments whenever possible. This recharges your battery and restarts your brain—and helps you find renewed joy in being a parent and in life in general.