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Helping a Fourth-Grader with ADD
Q: My fourth-grader struggles in school, but she manages a C average. The doctor told me that she has a mild case of ADD. I've never given her any medicine for it. Her teacher has never suggested holding her back. How can I help my daughter in school?
A: The first thing I would do is to make sure that there are no other learning problems that might be getting in the way of your child's doing better in school. As a parent, you can request a free evaluation of your daughter by your school district. Talk to your school guidance counselor or principal about how to put this evaluation in motion. The evaluation will look at what your daughter's potential is to learn (her I.Q.) as well as how she performs academically in comparison to other students her age and in her grade. If it turns out that she does have a learning problem as well as ADD, she might qualify for extra help in school.
Even if your daughter's only problem is an attention deficit disorder she may still be eligible for some help in school under federal law (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973). Contact the national office of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) at 1-800-233-4050. There are branches of CHADD across the country where you can get help and information. It's really helpful to have a chance to talk with other parents who are going through the same struggles with their kids.
For specific tips on how you can support your daughter, have a look at Harvey C. Parker's book, Problem Solver Guide for Students with ADHD or Betty Osman's book, Learning Disabilities and ADHD: A Family Guide to Living and Learning Together. There's also a wonderful book that you might want to suggest to your daughter's teachers: How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children: Practical Techniques, Strategies and Interventions for Helping Children with Attention Problems and Hyperactivity by Sandra Rief. There's even a video that goes along with this book that shows effective strategies in action.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.