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Parents of ADHD Children

First day of school and already struggling

Hi, my six year old had his first day of first grade today and it was already a disaster (although gym and recess were great).  He said they had too much work so he just didn’t do it. He needed a break. The good news is that he didn’t cry, have a tantrum, hide or really disrupt the class. He just refused to do anything. Last year, he would have been incredibly disruptive. I warned the teacher he needs things broken down into steps and that he shuts down immediately as soon as something feels hard.  The funny part is that he is incredibly bright and once he starts an assignment, they are usually too easy. Anyways, she just let him sit on the rug and not work.  I understand it’s the first day and she’s just getting to know him, but he’s already said he doesn’t have to do all of the work. Any ideas?  I’m so sad the year is starting out like this.


My son was the same way.  His kindergarten teacher was the only teacher we ever had who “got it” though.  She would take the time to do part of the assignment with him and, if she felt sure that he understood the material, she wouldn’t make him do the whole thing.  My son is almost 12 now, and that’s one accommodation I’m adding to his IEP this year when the time comes - not making him do 25 problems of the same type if he demonstrates understanding after 5 or maybe 10 of them.

See if the teacher will make his assignments smaller.  As he gets praised for completing the smaller segments, he’ll gain confidence and hopefully he’ll see that he can do the longer ones, if necessary, but it’s really NOT necessary to repeat something umpteen times if you already understand it.  Also ask her if he can do 10 minutes of work, take a short break, do another 10, etc.  She has to help and be a bit flexible else he’ll never get on track.  I know - I’ve been there.  Without a flexible and creative teacher, school is hell for these kids.

Talk to the teacher and ask her if you can work together to come up with a plan that works for everyone.  Do you have a 504 or IEP yet?  I couldn’t get that done until 4th grade. That’s when the work got harder and my son really started to “freeze up,” but I was just wondering if you’ve thought about that yet.

Best of luck to you!  You can turn it around if the school will work with you.

Posted by JAMurphy on Aug 27, 2014 at 11:51pm

Thank you. He has an IEP. I’m going to go through it again tonight to make sure the teacher is following it. I’m just so sad.  I just checked my voicemail and akready had a call from the school.

Posted by Sporty on Aug 27, 2014 at 11:54pm

What about getting a para educator assigned to him to help him break things down into smaller tasks. Sometimes the teacher doesn’t have the time. In 1st grade my son had a shadow, a para educator, who was with him most of the day to help. It really worked for him.

If you think that will help you may need to request it in writing. That’s what i had to do when my son changed schools because we moved.

Posted by cmullen17 on Aug 28, 2014 at 1:20am

I remember when my son was in first grade. It was a hard time for him too. If I recall, it was one of his worst years. He was constantly getting in trouble. He is NOT a bad kid. All this does is lower the self esteem. Keep the communication up with his teacher and together you can come up with a way that your son learns the best. It should be her goal to make sure he gets the best education he can get. Be the mom that sends emails every Friday or calls during your lunch to see how he is doing. I remember homework at that age being a big battle. Stay positive! And say many many positive things to your child so he knows he is great!  I know how sad it is. I have cried many of first days of school. My son is now entering high school and I am optimistic yet terrified. Hugs to you. Sometimes us Mom’s of ADHD kids need a big one every once in a while. You are doing your best!

Posted by justdoingmybest on Aug 28, 2014 at 1:33am

Does your son have an IEP? We finally got one for my son in second grade and things have gotten progressively better since then. Also, is he on meds? That makes things a whole lot easier as well.

I just want to let you know that my son just went back to school. He is in fourth grade now. Kinder was hard. First was hard. Second was a disaster as the teacher called me 2-3 days a week to have me pick my son up early. Third was a little better until we moved from AZ to Ohio in Jan and had 17 snow days and my son’s best friend in AZ dies suddenly in the spring.

We’ve only been in school a couple days in fourth. But, so far, it is our best year. We’re still having a little trouble getting started in the morning, but that may be due to meds and we can adjust them. I am cautiously optimistic that things will turn out well if not great this year.

The reason I am telling you this is because the first three years are a struggle and there will probably always be struggle, but it gets better. Hang in there. Get your kid some meds. Get the right dose and get and IEP and things will get better.

I hope this encourages you.
Sue H in PC, Ohio

Posted by SueH on Aug 28, 2014 at 12:44pm

I have been there. A teacher who is too soft is not good for students with ADHD, just as much as a teacher who is too rigid.

She may just be soft the first week or two as students adjust to being back at school and to her classroom and teaching style. I suggest a meeting with the teacher as soon as possible. Let her know she is teaching him that he doesn’t have to do the work, so he won’t. Here are more tips on making the meeting productive:

Also, Dr. Richard Selz has two great books you should read, one of which is titled “The Shutdown Learner.” They’re excellent!

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 28, 2014 at 1:00pm

I have to second the communication side.  I have discovered I have to be very proactive beforehand with everything.

I also put together a packet to give the teacher before school starts.  It includes his IEP, last report card, samples of his work from last spring, and a short bio on his learning style, potential issues and how to avoid or work with them, his strengths, etc.

He is in first grade, so you are ahead of the curve.  Keep advocating!  Hang in there!

Posted by Pdxlaura on Aug 29, 2014 at 2:40pm

Thanks for all of the advice.  Days two and three were much better and he seemed happier. I sent the teacher an email letting her know what has helped him in the past and to contact me with any questions.  She never wrote back, but hopefully she takes some of the ideas and uses them. I’m starting to feel the transition back to school is harder for me than my son this at this point.

Posted by Sporty on Sep 01, 2014 at 1:43am

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