Supporting Students with ADHD in School

What to Do if You Have a Student Who is Still Struggling

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Students with ADHD may have trouble staying organized. When preparing for the school year follow the steps below to help students stay organized and focused during the school year:

You can review these steps in order or review those that are most relevant to your situation.

  1. Gather Information

    When you first notice that a student's ADHD symptoms are affecting his or her schoolwork, you should collect specific, factual information that supports your concerns about the student's schoolwork and/or behavior in class. For example, you may want to include records of incomplete and/or missing homework assignments.

  2. Speak With Your School's Administrators/Other School Support Team Members

    After you have gathered the information you need, you should contact your principal, guidance counselor, and other teachers who work with the student to see if they share similar concerns and to discuss potentially reaching out to the student's parents or caregivers.

    It is important to note that your school may have specific guidelines and procedures for contacting parents and caregivers. Ask your school's principal for guidance if you are uncertain about how you should proceed.

  3. Contact the Student's Parents/Caregivers

    After you have spoken with your school's administrators, it may help to set up an initial parent-teacher conference.

    During this meeting, you should:

    • Focus on stating facts—especially those that may help identify areas in which the student with ADHD is struggling in comparison to other students his or her age (eg, remembering to complete homework)
    • Ask if the parents/caregivers have noticed the same things
    • Emphasize the student's strengths to positively balance the discussion and to build rapport and a good relationship with parents and caregivers
  4. Partner With the Student's Parents/Caregivers and Other School Support Team Members to Figure Out Whether Additional Support Might Help

    It may help to work with parents, caregivers, principals, and other school support team members to determine whether additional support may help the child.*

    • Using a digital recording device in class
    • Giving the student a quiet place to work
    • Letting the student have extra time to complete work
    • Using a daily/weekly report card
    • Having the student work with a study buddy
    • Using directed note-taking
    • Allowing the student to choose among several tasks to finish a project

    *Additional support services may need to be approved by a principal before teachers may start using them with students. For more information on this process, ask your school's administrator.

    Directed note-taking involves the teacher showing students how to take notes during a lesson by listing main ideas in a place students can see while the lesson is taking place. As students learn how to take their own notes, the teacher lists less and less for the class to see until students can take notes on their own.

  5. Monitor the Student's Progress

    A student's parents or caregivers may be able to help you monitor the progress the student is making on achieving certain goals. Tools such as a daily/weekly report card may help facilitate this type of communication.

  6. Provide Information as Needed

    If a student is referred for a formal evaluation for learning accommodations or services, the team evaluating the student may ask his or her teachers to provide several pieces of information:

    • School report cards that include grades and teachers' comments
    • Other official school records (eg, achievement tests or discipline reports)
    • A supplementary description of how the student has performed in school
    • Notes on the student's behavior in the classroom

    As part of this evaluation, teachers may be asked to provide information about the student to community-based support team members. If this occurs, the parents or caregivers may need to provide you with written permission to speak with these team members about their child.