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Paulette Cercega: Ideas for setting our ADHD child up for a successful school year in 2020

Let’s face it: the upcoming school year will be one of the most challenging ever. Whether homeschooling, cyber schooling, or face-to-face schooling, you know it’ll be a rollercoaster ride!

For parents with an ADHD kid, the forthcoming year will likely be a level (or five) above what parents of a neurotypical child will experience. However, with a little bit of optimism and thoughtful planning, parents and ADHD kids are in for the smoothest possible ride.

Here is our family is plan:

Because of our son’s socialization needs, we opted to send him to our district’s hybrid choice. He has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), but we still need to meet with the school to discuss whether his yearly goals make sense. If our district eventually goes all virtual, we will likely request a minimum number of one-on-one instructional hours per week, either in person or via videoconferencing.

Our son takes ADHD medication during the school year. Over the summer, he takes a medication break. He will begin taking it again before school begins to get himself into a routine. We will also check in regularly with his doctors.

Since he is in middle school, we encourage him to use a weekly calendar, like iCal or Google, throughout the year. We also help him effectively utilize it.

We strongly encourage at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Although he’s opted out of team sports for this year, he skateboards, rides his bike, lifts weights, or hops on the elliptical trainer in our basement.

We encourage healthy eating and sleeping habits. He knows that eating junk food and staying up late exacerbates ADHD. We use books, magazines, or YouTube videos to support this discussion. And, we try, sometimes imperfectly, to model healthy behaviors!

We support socialization within safe distances either in person or online. The cards are already stacked against ADHD kids when it comes to friendships so it’s important to maintain existing relationships while encouraging new ones.

We schedule family time at least 2 – 3 times a week through dinners or game or movie night. Unplugging from all devices for as little as 15 minutes often fills everyone’s emotional bucket.

We try to take care of ourselves too! Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Parenting an ADHD child, or any special needs child, is the hardest. Time to ourselves is worth it! My favorite way to destress is exercise and reality TV therapy; my husband catches up on soccer, hockey, or rugby scores or house and garden projects.

It’s up to us to decide whether we want the school year “ride” to be smooth and steady, or if we’ll take the more daunting path with jarring and jolting turns. With a little extra preparation, it’s most likely to be steady but exhilarating!

What are your plans for a successful school year? Please share your ideas here, on my Instagram page at @paulettecercega, or via my blog at

Here are some of my favorite ADHD Parenting Resources:



  • Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD by Penny Williams. Available on Amazon.
  • The Explosive Child: A New Approach For Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene PhD. Available on Amazon.
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