The Fundamentals of ADHD Coaching for Students- Part 1

You were talking to a fellow teacher about ADHD coaching last week and she told you that one of her students benefited from the coaching process.  He is more organized, uses his planner and works with his coach regularly to schedule all his life events from academics to sports and family activities.  Your colleague mentioned that the student’s mother stated that she is less stressed and likes having someone else work directly with her son. She can step back from the daily nagging and give her son space to learn and grow. The student is becoming more independent and empowered to move forward, step by step, to work on strategies to make schoolwork more manageable.

Suddenly, a light bulb goes on in your head. “Wow, this sounds amazing – just what many of my students need!” Before you rush off to find ADHD coaching resources for your students and send an e-mail blast to parents, hold on a moment. Let’s look at the details of the ADHD coaching process and how it may benefit your students.

ADHD coaching is a relatively new field of practice, dating back to the mid 1990’s. You may be more familiar with life coaching. Think of ADHD coaching as a niche developed using the core concepts of life coaching as a foundation. ADHD coaching helps individuals to set goals, acknowledge strengths, increase self-awareness, develop social skills, and create strategies that enable them to be more effective in managing their day-to-day lives. ADHD coaches establish a pattern of frequent communication/accountability with students to make sure they are focused and working steadily toward their goals. Academic coaching is a subset of ADHD coaching which focuses on the whole child and all the life areas impacting the individual student’s success.

How does coaching benefit students with ADHD/EF/LD?

By providing coaching to students, we have an opportunity to help bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood while simultaneously helping parents to step back and allow the maturation process to proceed at a pace that is right for their child. Oftentimes, parents have a difficult time accepting that many students with ADHD, executive dysfunction and learning disabilities are still in their preteens emotionally. Parents and other adults often expect these students to be mature enough to manage their lives. Yet, there is no “one size fits all” timetable for maturity. Coaches help to guide and support young people in getting ready for the future at their own pace. Through coaching, the student receives support in creating plans and setting goals in an environment of structure, support, and encouragement.

When coaching students, the core focus is on academics, just as work is the core focus of coaching for most adults. We are coaching around the issues that are first and foremost for students. They are encouraged by the coach to give “equal time” to other life areas to insure a well-rounded, healthy and happy life. Let’s face it, none of us do well in our jobs without sleep and good nutrition. How can we expect our children to be any different?