Back to School Time Again! Tips to Support Children with ADHD

Dr. Carla LeHouillier, R. Psych.
Wishing Star Associate

Well, it’s that time of year again – summer camps are coming to a close, and back to school commercials are in full force on the TV and radio. This can be an exciting time for kids looking forward to starting a new year, but for families who have a child with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), there is often a lot more to think about than just shopping for new clothes and making sure their backpacks and pencil cases are stocked for the year. For children and adolescents with ADHD, organization and getting back to the school routine and schedule can be a particular challenge. However, there are a lot of things that parents can do to help their kids in these areas. Creating a daily or weekly schedule of morning, during-school, and after-school activities in a visual format can be very helpful for helping children with ADHD to get accustomed to their new routines. Post the schedule in a prominent place at home, and send a copy with them in their backpacks, so they know what to expect at school. Pictures can be used for younger children who may not be able to read yet. For students who struggle to organize their materials, parents can help by assisting their children in putting together their binders. Create different sections for each subject, so that students can place handouts in their appropriate place. Or provide children with a folder with pockets on either side – one that is labeled with DONE – NEED TO HAND IN and the other with NEW ASSIGNMENTS – STILL NEEDS TO BE COMPLETED, so they can keep track of what assignments are still outstanding.

Dr. Kenny Handelman, a child psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD, has suggested a number of other tips to help increase the likelihood of success at the beginning of a new school year, including:

  • Starting the school bedtime routine as early as 2 weeks in advance of the start of school, which matches the bedtime and awakening times they will need to adjust to when school begins.
  • Set clear expectations for parts of your child or adolescents’ day that they are responsible for, in order to maximize success. This may need some extra planning, especially for any routines or responsibilities they have difficulty with.
  • Get homework completion off to a great start – create a homework routine with your child with a clear time and location in the home where they will complete their homework each day, and ensure that there is good communication between parents and the teacher about what books need to be brought home and when assignments are due.
  • Focus on your child’s strengths – remember, they have many, and back to school can be a very difficult time for them, as they adjust from their summer vacation. Celebrate the many successes, no matter how small.


For more helpful information about how to support the back to school process for children and adolescents with ADHD, have a look at the guide provided by the Center for ADHD Awareness, Canada.

This blog posting is not a form of psychological counselling, advice, therapy, or assessment and should not be used as such by any individual. This blog posting is provided only as an article intended to encourage thought and discourse. For specific psychology related services, please contact an appropriate healthcare provider.