Not your Grandpa’s Schoolhouse: ADD/ADHD and the Weight of Educational Expectations (2)

You may recall in previous posts I began a discussion about how the modern educational experience can lead to the labeling of young children as difficult, fidgety or restless. I also noted that it is but a very short step from this label to a full-blown ADHD diagnosis. The reason why there is such a great deal of emphasis on conformity within the modern classroom can be at least partially attribute it to the fact that education in the modern era is almost completely target driven. This means that anything that stands in the way of particular class cohorts reaching targets in areas like literacy and numeracy will be fiercely resisted. A child that struggles to fit into this highly regimented environment will therefore almost certainly be regarded as an obstacle towards progress of others, often leading to drastic action in the form of medicating him/her into submission.
Towards the end of the article I asked the question that is on the lips off so many parents: How can we protect our children from harm caused by unrealistic educational expectations. I ended in the article by giving the two most important answers they read you should do your utmost to keep clear lines of communication with your child’s teacher and also that you should make very sure that your child is indeed ready for school before sending him/her.
This week I would like to continue this discussion by proposing some more ways in which you can act in the best interest of your child and his/her education:
Be proactive in school selection: If your child does not thrive in a certain school environment this obviously does not necessarily mean that he will fail to thrive in any school environment. It may well be that there is another school in your location that will be much better suited to his/her needs. You should therefore not allow your loyalty to a particular school, or even the fact that siblings go to that school be such an overriding concern that you deprive your child off the best possible education. It is difficult to generalize about the kind of school in which children with ADHD tend to thrive. Other up there are some common denominators. Chief among these are is an emphasis on interactive learning styles. Another factor that often contributes to positive outcomes (especially for some boys) is the active encouragement of competition within the school environment. (This is such an important subject that I intend to devote a full article to it in the near future)
Make the most of homework time: I realize that most of us are tired by the end of the day and the last thing that they look forward to is to spend time helping their children at schoolwork. If, however, you have a child with ADHD who is struggling in the modern school environment this should be one of your top priorities. The pace at which new material is introduced in the curriculums of most school districts is so relentless that a child could not get help with integrating this material is almost bound to fall behind. This danger is even more acute if the teaching style is employed the school does not correlate with learning style child. Parents of ADHD children should therefore not only focus on revision of what was learned in class should also make the attempt to translate this material into ADHD friendly format. I realize that this may seem like a very difficult task, especially if you do not have an educational background yourself. You are, however, one who knows your child the best. You will therefore already have a good idea as to what will work support him/her. You will also find that in many cases your child’s teacher will be more than happy to help by recommending extra material or material that is focused specifically on children with specific learning styles.
Consider homeschooling: This may seem like a very radical proposal, especially if you have never considered homeschooling before. The fact is however that some children will always struggle in a formal school environment. Placing such a child in a homeschooling environment where he/she/she can receive focused attention and be taught in ways that are appropriate to ADHD styles will in most cases make a huge difference. Making the decision to home school obviously represents a variety of sacrifices on several different levels that it could also be just what your child needs. The great thing about homeschooling is that you certainly do not have to do it on your own. There are a variety of homeschooling networks that will help you to plug into resources. These networks can also bring you in contact with other homeschooling families from whom you can learn. I realize that homeschooling is not for everybody and there could very well be the reasons why this would not be a solution in your case. I do want to encourage you however to resist the temptation to just dismiss this as a possibility without seriously investigating the pros and cons your individual circumstances.
I wish you the very best as you attempt to make the best possible decisions for your children!