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School Issues: When Should an ADHD Child Be Held Back In School?

This can be a very complicated issue, so I don't mean to suggest that my comments here are the definitive thoughts on the subject. For a parent to even consider the issue, things have to be pretty problematic at school. So, even though these thoughts may be inadequate to cover your individual situation, I will share them with you anyway...

Consider these things:

1. How old is your child? If you child is 4 or 5 years old (especially with males) and is struggling in Kindergarten, he may simply be too young for structured learning. Not a big deal. Bring him home and work with him for another year. I usually recommend that parents start their sons in Kindergarten at age 6 anyway. And many kids with ADHD are just so neurologically immature that they are not going to really be "ready" for a classroom setting until they are 8 or 9 or 10. So consider homeschooling the young ADHD kids.

2. If the child is older, and the reason cited is "immaturity," then ask yourself these questions: When did the "immaturity" become apparent? Did it just begin this year? Are there emotional issues, or learning disabilities, that need to be addressed? Or is it really "immaturity?" How long has the teacher felt that this was a problem? What other options exist to deal with the situation? Would your child benefit from being with students who were a year younger than himself if the problem is immaturity?

3. If the reason given for retaining the child is lack of academic progress, then ask yourself these questions: Why didn't my child learn more? Were there problems in school behavior? Poor attention span? Poor work ethic? Poor work skills? Too much TV watching? Too little parental supervision? Too much parent supervision?

Would any of these problems be fixed by holding him back, or would you just repeat the same situation over again?

Are there other options, such as tutoring, home schooling, summer school, school interventions and accommodations?

Look at all of your options first. There are dozens of things that can be done besides holding a student back a grade in school. Just some simple thoughts. Hope they help. You can learn a lot more about Attention Deficit Disorder in children and teens at the ADHD Information Library.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.

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