If you came here looking for answers, I am really sorry to tell you, that studying with an ADHD child is an uphill battle. One that I fight daily! So instead of pretending I know it all, I going to tell you, I know what you are going through. And I have the deepest sympathy for the struggles you need to endure!
Logan is in grade 4 this year. In South Africa, grade 4 is officially the first year that our kids write formal tests and exams. We’re in November at the moment, which means, this is our second exam season.
As a mom and student myself, I know how to study. I know how to juggle family, work and studies and do it well! Can I tell you, that helping your child prepare for exams is harder than juggling a million things and writing exams yourself! Would you believe me if I told you, it is the truth!
What I can also tell you, is that seeing your ADHD child achieve really good marks and taste success, is the best feeling ever!
ADHD & Executive Functions
I was first introduced to the to the concept, Executive Functions, earlier this year. As a mom to an ADHD child, the concept, literally changed the way I approach Logan!
Long story short, we all make use of executive functions. Executive Functions allows us to do what we decide to do. It allows us to make a decision to start something, helps us plan and organise tasks and helps us focus, in order to execute the tasks. Executive functions also help us keep going to push through to complete a task and includes the ability to retain and manipulate information, regulate our emotions and monitor the process of with self-talk.
Here’s the crazy part, executive functions are only fully developed by the age of 25-30 years!
Kids with ADHD have a 30% delay when it comes to developing these particular skills. In other words, if I can help my child develop his executive functions as soon as possible, I can make a huge difference to the overall way he copes in school.
Let me explain. Instead of focusing on drilling math or trying to get my kid to read a book, I am trying and teach him how to plan. Logan participated in this year’s entrepreneurs day. He was super excited, but unaware what it took to plan and execute the sub-tasks for the event. Instead of organising the whole thing for him, because, let’s face it, doing it ourselves, means it is done correctly the first time, without any hassles. I helped him to plan the event. This included going from shop to shop, looking for the most affordable ingredients; doing the math to determine what these costs were, pricing the items to ensure he makes a profit and doing all the little tasks like washing the bottles, etc.
He pretty much did everything from A-Z and when the day was a success, it was his success.
The above was simply one example. Every time he wants to have a friend over for a sleepover, he has to plan (1.) what they’ll be doing (2.) the menu, (3.) sleeping arrangement, etc.
Related Post: Executive Functions + ADHD
How Do I Help my ADHD Child Study for Exams?
So how do I use the executive functions to my advantage when it comes to studying? Exam preparations for ADHD kids take a lot of patience and a lot in terms of pre-studying preparations, on the parent’s side. Here’s what I have tried this term:
1. Schedule and Plan the Study Timetable together
I used to love planning my study timetable! It used to take me forever to plan, the perfect study roster. I also believe, that when we see something, like the fact that in 3 weeks from now, the exams will be over and done with, it’s a bit easier to apply ourselves to meet the demands.
I applied this principle to Logan, by printing out a standard November Calendar printable. We sat together and jotted in when he was writing exams, as well as what days we needed to study which subject.
2. Start Early
Kids with ADHD are naturally more prone to feel exam stress and anxiety. By starting as earlier as possible, I’m trying to manage Logan’s stress and anxiety levels. The only drawback is that the exam season seems longer to him.
… then again, I’d rather have a bored child, that an anxious child.
3. Work hard & Play Hard
To try and combat the effects of what seems like months and months of exam prep, we do fun things in between. The weekend, we attended a Capoeira Roda, which broke the mundane routine of studying a bit.
4. Find a Balance between Pushing hard and Stopping when it is Pointless to Study
Getting Logan to get started is our biggest problem. Once he is in study mode properly, he is generally on the ball, but to get him there is really hard. For this reason, I tend to push him to do a little more, when he is in that mode. This helps me balance the times, I really cannot get him focussed on studying.
I also believe that the more often we practise getting started, the better we will get at it. It could be wishful thinking, but let’s be honest – sometimes we simply need something to hold on to, to get us through the rough patches of life!
5. Positive Reinforcement
Praise your child when he does well. I battle with this one, usually by the time Logan does perform, I am so angry and frustrated by what I’ve had to endure up until that point. But, positive reinforcement so important!
I am really talking to myself here!
6. Arrange Something Fun to look Forward to Post-Exams
It is Logan’s birthday in December and that gives us something to look forward to, along with a little party/ get-together to plan.
Exam Preparations for ADHD Kids
Exam Preparations for ADHD Kids is so hard. The purpose of this post, was really to remind me that I have been through worse with Logan. Every uphill battle is a battle I will climb over and over! I suppose that is what we do as parents!
It doesn’t make it easier in the moment, but knowing we are not alone makes it a little easier.