Parents express concerns about online learning and students with ADHD

One teacher says one way to help a child focus while learning online, is to divide school work into smaller units of time, and allow for breaks in between.

Posted: Jul 25, 2020 4:32 PM
Updated: Jul 27, 2020 9:07 AM

Some parents across North Alabama are concerned about how online learning will impact students this fall, especially children with learning disabilities like ADHD.

One teacher says one way to help a child focus while learning online, is to divide school work into smaller units of time, and allow for breaks in between.

"I had a really hard time keeping my oldest one motivated and keeping him on task," said mother, Kimberly Smilie.

Smilie has two sons with ADHD and says when school transitioned to virtual classes last spring, learning became difficult.

"When we're in the home environment, it's up to me to help him with the challenges he has," said Smilie.

She has concerns about how her children will handle online classes this fall.

"If we have more work than what he could tackle in like an hour, that it's going to be really hard to keep him motivated and sitting still," said Smilie.

Marianne Zollar is a teacher with Huntsville City Schools and has ADHD, herself. She says she's been trained on how to help students who have a hard time focusing.

"For those who have this diagnosis, that sort of work can be sort of hindering for long periods of time," said Zollar.

Zollar says when doing online school work, a clean space can keep children from getting overwhelmed.

"An uncluttered work space with what they need, proper storage, so they know exactly where that calculator is, or that the calendar is right there for them to see," said Zollar.

Zollar says an organized schedule and a quiet learning environment helps, and both Zollar and Smilie agree parent involvement is critical.

"It could be easy for a child, especially one with ADHD to just scroll past assignments, so it would be really helpful for parents to check those assignments," said Zollar.

"Do your best to stay patient. Do your best to stay positive and encourage them," said Smilie.

Zollar tells WAAY 31 not every child with ADHD learns the same way, so parents may need to adjust routines and activities as the school year continues.

Huntsville City Schools says it will be reaching out to parents in about two weeks to develop a plan for students with special needs.

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