A learning strategy is a plan or steps to take when learning something. Learning strategies can help children acquire and retain knowledge.

Learning strategies can be simple or complex.

They include:

  • strategies for specific academic areas, such as reading comprehension strategies or math problem-solving strategies
  • general cognitive strategies that help students process, retrieve, or manipulate information, such as note-taking, making a chart, or outlining an essay
  • metacognitive strategies that help students set goals, plan, or monitor and evaluate progress

It is important for children to realize that:

  • there is a connection between what they do (for example, making a list of points to review for a test) and outcome (for example, a test score)
  • there are many ways to solve a problem or reach a goal
  • some methods work better than others

When faced with a problem, students need to think about:

  1. what they know
  2. what they want to know
  3. what strategies they can use to reach their goals
  4. which strategy to try first

Children with ADHD often have trouble developing and using learning strategies. They can become more effective students when they are taught learning strategies, as well as why, when, and where to use them.

Planning and Time Management

Children with ADHD often struggle with planning and time management. They may find it difficult to think ahead to plan a project, or they may not schedule enough time to get everything done. They may forget to write down homework assignments.

To help your child plan her work and manage her time, try these strategies:

  • Use schedules and routines. Make sure your child does homework at the same time every night.
  • Help your child to keep a notebook or planner to write down all assignments and due dates.
  • Help your child break larger assignments into short pieces and set deadlines for each piece.
  • Use a countdown timer on your child’s desk to quietly illustrate how much time is left for a given activity.
  • The same strategies should be used consistently at home and at school. You and your child’s teacher should discuss effective strategies and help your child use them.

Note that some children with ADHD may have trouble understanding abstract words and phrases related to time management. They may need instruction or guided practice to understand terms like “next Thursday” or “the day after tomorrow.”

Communicating With the School About Your Child’s ADHD

ADHD affects children both at home and at school. To ensure your child with ADHD does as well in school as he can, you need to build a solid relationship with your child’s school. To do this, you need to communicate clearly and often.

Communication helps to:

  • share initial concerns about the child’s symptoms
  • develop school-based intervention strategies
  • monitor the child’s progress
  • make sure you and your child’s teacher are using the same strategies to help your child
  • share information about medication and other treatments

What your child’s teacher needs to know

During assessment

While your child is being assessed for ADHD, let your child’s teacher know that:

  • your child is being assessed
  • the doctor or psychologist may need information from the teacher to help with diagnosis

After diagnosis                                                                      

After your child has been diagnosed, you should meet with your child’s teacher to:

  • discuss the treatment plan
  • explain the medication your child is taking, if any, and what to look out for
  • explain what other interventions your child is receiving
  • discuss changes the teacher can make in the classroom to help your child
  • discuss how the teacher can help monitor the success of the treatment plan
  • discuss what you are doing at home to help your child

What you need to know from your child’s teacher

During assessment

A child’s teacher may be the first person to suspect that a child has ADHD. Your child’s teacher can help the doctor or psychologist assess your child’s behaviour and academic achievement. The teacher can provide:

  • a description of your child’s symptoms in class
  • how long your child has had these symptoms
  • whether symptoms are better in some contexts than in others
  • how your child is doing academically
  • your child’s language abilities
  • how your child is doing socially

After diagnosis

After your child has been diagnosed, your child’s teacher can provide important information about his progress, including:

  • how well the treatment is working
  • what strategies the teacher is using at school to help your child
  • what strategies you can use at home to help your child with schoolwork and homework

Communication strategies

There are many ways for parents and teachers to communicate. When your child is diagnosed with ADHD, or at the start of the school year, talk to your child’s teacher. Together, you should decide how often you need to communicate and what types of communication will work best.

Options include:

  1. phone calls
  2. newsletters
  3. daily log books or notebooks that travel from school to home in the child’s knapsack
  4. notes
  5. informal visits
  6. scheduled conferences
  7. report cards