Enrolling Your ADHD Child In Preschool: 10 Important Ways To Succeed In The New And Challenging Environment
Daycare is a big step for any child, but when your little one has ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, you have special concerns unique for you and your family. With approximately 6.4 million children diagnosed with this often overwhelming condition, though, daycare centers across the country are becoming more adept at addressing it. Still, both you and your child are facing some interesting challenges as you approach the first day of school at daycare. Here are 10 important ways you can both be successful:
1. Choose A Daycare For Your ADHD Child With A Good Teacher-To-Student Ratio
Child care services with plenty of teachers to go around should mean any potential problems for your particular child are nipped in the bud, long before they evolve into anything disruptive for the class or frustrating for your child. A good teacher-to-student ratio keeps all of the kids included, prompted as needed, and, overall, it's a far more productive environment for everyone.
2. Speak Directly With The Program Director About How Your Child Will Fit In
You need to know what activities your child will participate in and how engaged they're likely to be in them. If a certain activity isn't something your child typically enjoys, let them know to expect it and that they should adapt to the program, rather than being surprised by it and possibly, act out. You can potentially prepare your child at home, by engaging in the activity a few times, but at least talking about it should give both your child and their teacher an advantage when it comes time to actually doing it in the daycare setting.
3. Take Your Child To The Daycare When It's Empty Of Other Students
Because the newness of the environment will likely directly contribute to fidgeting, not paying attention and other interruptive behavior, ask the school if you and your child can take a tour of it without any other kids around. Hopefully, you won't just curb the potential for distracted behavior, you'll also generate some enthusiasm for the upcoming educational endeavor as well.
4. Meet All Of The Teachers Yourself, One-On-One
Introduce yourself to anyone your child will interact with, especially those who will be spending a lot of time teaching your child. Establishing a good rapport from the start should mean you have an effective communication channel, whenever it's needed.
5. Inform The Daycare About Your Child's ADHD Medicines And Possible Side Effects
If your child is on any medication for their ADHD, they may sometimes exhibit a number of side effects, ranging from sleepiness to irritability and much more. Also, since medicines can have different impacts on an individual basis, your little one may go through unusual symptoms on occasion. Whatever the case, make sure the daycare staff knows what medications are being taken and how your child may be affected.
6. Ask The Teachers To Limit Words When Redirecting Or Reprimanding Your Child
While ADHD can be disruptive to a teacher's classroom, a five minute talk on how the disruption is inappropriate could easily lose your child's interest, meaning the message behind it will be lost. Encourage the teachers to use the same quick and decisive terms you apply to your child's behavior at home, hopefully streamlining the redirecting process.
7. Clearly Define The Rules Of The School With Your Child
Despite possible similarities between how the daycare governs its students and how you operate your household, there will be some variance. Nonetheless, your child should know, right from the start, what the rules are and that it's very important to follow them, just like at home. The more commonalities your child discovers between home and school rules, the easier it will be to follow them all.
8. Ask That Your Child Not Be "Labeled"
While your child may need special attention and in some cases, special treatment, outright labeling can have many negative side-effects. If, for example, everyone in the class emphasizes the distinction (between your child and others), your child may feel ostracized. Labeling may also inadvertently lower expectations for your child, which, in the long run, could be very detrimental to their self-confidence. Most children face issues, including behavior, attention and occasional hyperactivity, so ultimately, there should be no reason to label your child exclusively for exhibiting such characteristics.
9. Keep Paperwork On Progress And Share It With Your Child's Doctor(s)
If your family is like many others with children who have ADHD, you regularly see some type of doctor, be it a physician for medications and/or a therapist. Either way, it's important that you document your child's successes and shortcomings in the new educational environment. This data will help the professionals formulating a plan for your child gain special insight into how they're developing and what new strategies might be introduced. You can also use the data gathered from daycare to gently guide your child's learning and behavior modification, as well as to praise them for their efforts and achievements. Additionally, when your child moves forward into the next school or if this daycare doesn't work out, you'll have the information you need to facilitate future progress.
10. Reserve Special Rewards At Home For Good Behavior At Daycare
When your child has a particularly bad day, everyone will feel it, but sometimes, when the day goes smoothly or even merely without incident, your child may not get the congratulations and extra encouragement they need to know just how well they did. Have something you can do together or as a family that's especially rewarding for your little one and enjoyable for you, too. Having ADHD may mean you occasionally stand out like a sore thumb; however, often times you won't be noticed when your good behavior blends you right in with everyone else. Those are the times that really need emphasis, though, especially when kids are younger.