After doing all of this wrong myself with my ADHD teenager, here are my top five tips for picking classes in high school for your ADHD child/young adult:

1.  Later = better: if your child takes ADHD medications, chances are that first period won’t be their best performance period.  Try to steer away from the substantive. P.E. would make a great first period class!

2.  Less homework = better: most of us find homework to be the Achille’s Heel of our ADHD kids, so talk to the counselors, other parents, and older kids to identify classes that count homework as the smallest percentage of the final grade.

3.  Extra credit = better: your child is going to fail to turn in some assignments.  Find teachers that offer extra credit or opportunities for turning late work in for partial credit.

4.  Experience = better: identify the teachers with past experience working with neuro-atypical kids.  Avoid the teachers that are described as rigid or those that are unknowns.

5.  Interesting = better: search for classes/teachers that reward creativity and assign interesting projects.  Shy away from teachers that grade on whether kids bring the right materials to class.  You’re looking for teachers that can appreciate that your child is an outside the box thinker.

And it sure helps if your child likes the class subject matter, for our easily distracted offspring.  I also appreciate a teacher who will communicate with me when s/he sees issues arise.

After all the times Clark has challenged his GPA with atrocious grades, usually due to homework, I like a class that’s an easy 100 occasionally, too :-).  Clark just dropped Human Services (a.k.a. sewing), which he hated, for P.E. so he could shoot baskets with his friends.  How far I have come that my reaction was, “Yay!  Easy 100!”

Last but not least, consider a study hall period, if you can.  Homework done in a supervised environment without the distractions at home and the push-pull of the parent-child relationship can be a wonderful thing.

I should have titled this blog, “Everything I wish I’d known three years ago.”

What are your tips for class selection?

Pamelot

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12 Responses to Picky, picky, picky.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PamelaFaganHutchins, PamelaFaganHutchins. PamelaFaganHutchins said: Picky, picky, picky. http://f.ast.ly/4JeyJ […]

  2. idit says:

    Do you have tips for Elementary school?

    • Pamela says:

      In elementary, it is all about the teacher, unless they’re switching around. And you want someone who is flexible and loving. Not a rules person. Take advantage of tutoring or other special programs — I found a tutor an opportunity to get Clark organized after school. Keep them interested — they’re minds are running amuck, so meet with your teacher, tell them what works best and does not work, and enlist their help in keeping them on track. You’re not in the U.S., so I can’t speak to what programs are available to you.

  3. Heidi M says:

    Excellent tips, P. I would add that if your child struggles with a particular subject to not put that class at the END of the day either. I’ve found a bell curve approach to scheduling classes works best for us. And yes, let’s hear it for the easy 100’s!

    • Pamela says:

      oh, that is a good one. important not only b/c their focus lags, but also because if they’re missing school for activities, it is that last few periods of the day, so make it something where there’s no make-up homework and in-class assignments to stack up further with the ones they’re already missing on their own!
      Pamela recently posted..Picky- picky- picky

  4. Grace says:

    I know I’ve mentioned before that my nephew has PDD (a very mild form of autism). He’s 8, and he’s struggled in school, of course. But this year, he got one of those experienced teachers you mentioned, and that made all the difference for little Joe. You give great advice here!
    Grace recently posted..Not Everyone’s in Love with this Weiner

  5. JennyBean says:

    That’s actually a great guide for most teenagers!

  6. Deborah says:

    My tip, do some research and if there’s any way a teacher would be open to understanding that some children need to move around to learn (like mine) then that would become a top pick in my book.
    Deborah recently posted..Self-Coaching Tip- Rock On!

  7. Carmen says:

    While those are great tips, there is little control over scheduling in our High School. You pick your classes and then they give you a schedule. You are lucky if you get in to your choice of classes.

    One tip about High School is to find out if there are any courses catering to ADHD needs. I found they have a Study Skills class and a Social Help class but the Social Help Class is limited for kids with Asperger and ONLY for Asperger. According to the ESE person, ADHD kids outgrow their social problems by High School. Really ? I tried to push the point but they convinced me that the needs of Asperger kids are different and the class would not serve my son.

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