Archive for the ‘ADHD’ Category

6 Tips for School Success with ADHD: Yes, It’s Possible!

Posted on: October 20th, 2017 by North Star Marketing No Comments

For parents of kids with ADHD, it should be affirming to know that October is ADHD Awareness Month. It’s definitely a reminder that you are not alone! We understand the unique challenges of ADHD for students, but we also celebrate the opportunities that exist for success…and there are many! 

When parents ask what strategies our Tampa Day School educators find most effective in helping ADHD students succeed, we’re happy to share some of the many techniques we employ:

  1.    Start that homework with some help!

Our TDS homework lab period provides the structure and teacher support needed to build successful homework habits and encourage homework completion. Students feel so much less stress when they’ve developed a path to completion while still at school. That translates to fewer meltdowns at home!

  1.    Pinpoint the problem.

  There’s no cookie-cutter approach to student weaknesses because each student we serve is unique.  We work with each child to identify areas that need strengthening – whether it is organization, time management, planning, task initiation, or a host of other possibilities. Correctly identifying the problem(s) allows us to develop a plan. It’s like the old adage, “the journey of a million miles begins with one step.”

  1.    Mix in relational coaching.

  While many ADHD students struggle with self-control, regulating emotions, and understanding social cues, we’ve learned how to help students better understand what behaviors or attitudes contribute to interpersonal conflicts. What’s more, we model and promote the development of prosocial behavior, perspective taking, and successful interactions. We find encouragement and direct coaching go a long way! Who needs Dr. Phil?

  1.    Use brain-based strategies.

TDS educators are savvy in ways to minimize off-task behavior and foster active classroom engagement. You might observe students paired, standing, and interacting with one another when learning a concept or demonstrating proficiency. We’ve found this technique increases personal accountability for learning, and allows the teacher to quickly determine which students need more time or assistance to grasp the lesson.

  1.    Partner with parents.

The TDS team collaborates to develop a support plan unique to your child’s needs. Daily reports are used to maximize school-home communication and provide students with routine performance feedback. This eliminates a great deal of potential anxiety and demonstrates how much we value two-way communication with parents.

  1.    Add some balance.

Students at TDS may participate in art, performing arts, technology, robotics, athletics, and a variety of club opportunities. By allowing kids to find creative outlets for expression or develop a new talent, we’re creating tangible paths to accomplishment and self-esteem. For those students who have experienced multiple failures and frustrations, these outlets can help provide a fresh and positive perspective on life and learning.

At Tampa Day School, We Champion Your Child’s Needs

As a unique private school in Hillsborough County, FL, Tampa Day School provides a strong educational program to help meet the needs of children with ADHD. With a class size of 10-12, TDS students receive the attention they need from caring, fully-engaged teachers. Download our information packet to learn more!

The New Meaning of RTI (Response to Intervention)

Posted on: December 15th, 2014 by Jen Mitrakos No Comments

The timeline to receiving an ADHD diagnosis can be varied depending on how much a parent or guardian advocates for intervention and a diagnosis.  As young as three, I felt that my son was struggling to meet the benchmarks for a child his age.  He always seemed a bit behind, slightly not focused, and overly anxious.  He went through preschool and kindergarten struggling to stay on task and understand content.

At the ripe old age of 5 five, I was told that my son needed a tutor, in KINDERGARTEN!  Being my first child, I quickly shelled out $60 a week to help build his foundational knowledge.  Still struggling months later he was referred to the Response to Intervention team (RTI).  To me RTI should stand for Remiss to Intervene.  My son’s progress was monitored at monthly meetings.  His progress ebbing and flowing, on the cusp of needing help and then squeaking by just enough to please the powers that be.  For three years my son was on and off the RTI team.  Three academic years wasted without intervention. The only lesson learned was for me to advocate for my child.

My child needed testing and because of intermittent success it was being postponed.  Thinking because I worked at the school, as a teacher, my son would be given the attention needed.  I asked to have him evaluated.   It was February and I was told the testing wouldn’t begin until next year.  Testing schedules were booked and summer was approaching so testing during that school year was not likely to happen.

I could not let another year slip by without adequate gains being made.  So I cowboy’d up and had private testing done.  I had an ADHD diagnosis within a month and began to develop a 504 plan with the school.

For those of you who have a 504 for your child, I bet you have some similar goals: extended time on tests, preferential seating, and communication in daily planner.  I think they pick these goals out of a hat.  Here are some 504 tips:

  • Advocate and set goals your child really needs!
  • Review and rewrite the goals as needs change.
  • Most importantly, meet with teachers at the start of the school year to inform them about your child’s 504 plan.
  • Check in through out the school year to make sure the 504 accommodations are being used.

One last tip, Remember to Intervene (RTI) before it is too late.

Be on the Look-Out: ADHD Boy with a Blankie

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by Jen Mitrakos No Comments

Mother of four but feels like much more.  Sound familiar?  Some days I thrive and some days I survive.  Having an 11 year old with ADHD and as an educator for children who learn differently, I am well aware of ADHD behaviors.  I do my best to be proactive to avoid emotional meltdowns and behaviors that would have most parents calling Nanny 911.  My husband and I divide and conquer so that we rarely take all four kids on outings all at once.  This enables us to focus our attention on our children and help shape behavior.   On the rare occasion we do venture out as a family, we call for reinforcements.  Going out to dinner?  Bring the older cousins and Aunt along to entertain the little ones.  Going to attempt shopping at the mall?  Bring Mema along to help rally the troops.  This brings me to my last visit to the mall.

I am at the mall having what I think is a good day with my hyperactive and, at times, emotionally unregulated 4 year old son.   I successfully purchased dishes.  Then I browsed the fine china section without a single broken dish or stroke of the glistening glassware.  Kapow…success!  My mom and I decide to venture on.  We meander through the purse section.  My son restrains the urge to swing all the purses on the rack and doesn’t knock a single one to the ground.  He continues calmly through the store, with blankie in hand, following his momma like a little duckling.  My mom and I glance at each other, shocked by the glowing behavior.  We pause to take a glimpse at the jewelry display.  That’s when “She” passes by and reduces my feeling of euphoric success to feeling like a child rearing failure.  My son is standing a foot or two behind me and begins to twirl with his six-inch square blanket in his hand.  During his pirouette his blanket grazes the subject, to whom I apologized.  She glares at me with a sneer that’s worse than the one my mother would give me if I acted up at church.  Then she says with malice, “Control your child!”.  At a loss for words I say nothing and try to internalize what my son did that was deemed “Out of control”.  The answer, nothing.  We just so happened to cross paths with someone who has no idea what success I was feeling and that she should learn a little self-control over what spews from her mouth.  What I thought to be great behavior was quickly ripped from me.  If she was to spend one day or even one hour in my shoes, maybe she too would celebrate the small success of going out with a child who doesn’t run away, cry, touch everything on the rack, or shout in a store.  Do not let others strip you of the small successes each day.  For once I went shopping with one child and it felt like I had one child.  I was able to think, browse and talk with my child as we wandered the department store.  Raising a child is challenging.  Raising a child with ADHD can feel overwhelming.  Take each day as it comes, celebrate the little success, and know that you are not alone.

5 Ways to Help ADHD Kids with Responsibilty

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by Jen Mitrakos No Comments

Children with ADHD and anxiety often have a difficult time managing their own daily responsibility. These five tips will help your ADHD child stay organized, on-task, and learn valuable life skills.

  1. Stay organized-Use a planner to keep track of homework and tests dates.  Also keep assignments in a folder or binder and remember to clean out backpacks weekly.
  2. Timing in everything- If you have a hard time staying on task set small goals that can be completed in a certain time frame.  For example:  If your child has 20 math problems to complete, the goal may be to complete 10 of them in 15minutes.  Set a timer to help keep the pace.  After 15 minutes, take a 5 minute break (timed of course) and then set the timer again to resume the assignment.
  3. Routine, Routine, Routine- Establishing routines reinforces desired outcomes. Morning Routines may sound like this; “Is your Homework in your backpack?”  “Did you put your reading log in your folder?” “Did you pack your lunch?” “I need to sign your planner.”  Routines can help your child to be self-sufficient.  Morning routines can start with a checklist; wake up, brush teeth, eat breakfast, pack lunch, and check your backpack for homework and supplies.  ADDitude magazine has a great resource:  Routines that Really Work.
  4. Deter from Distractions-   Ensure that your child has a designated place to do homework. The place should be quite, organized, and have all supplies that may be needed.  Supplies should be easily accessible but stored neatly.  Avoid the use of televisions, cell phones, and music with words while working.   Reward on-task behavior with a brain break after 15-20 minutes of work.
  5. Model- Want your child to act a certain way, be organized, follow routines, be responsible, or do chores correctly?  Model the desired behaviors on a daily basis.  Parents are the first teachers to children. Children learn by watching the actions of others. Show them the actions to follow.

photo credit: Helen K via photopin cc

Amanda’s Story- 8th Grade Girl with ADHD and Math Anxiety

Posted on: September 23rd, 2014 by plentz No Comments

There are many ways anxiety can manifest in school-age children, including difficulties separating from parents, specific fears about certain subjects (e.g., math, writing), bouts of test anxiety, stigmatizing social anxiety or generalized anxiety. It is not uncommon for these children to “keep it together” all day as model students only to “melt down” and “fall apart” the moment they hop in the car or reach the safety of their home. Symptoms can range from child complaints of headaches and stomach aches to worries/fears, school refusal, loss of behavioral control, difficulty separating from parents, and mild to severe avoidance of situations. It is critical that adults in the child’s environment understand that symptoms associated with anxiety can be debilitating and that adult and peer support play a critical role in reducing symptoms and promoting more typical functioning in the face of anxiety producing triggers.

On that note, let me introduce Amanda, a charismatic teen with a dual diagnosis of ADHD and anxiety. While Amanda is an exceptionally bright and engaging young lady, it was almost painful to watch her transform from a vibrant, socially outgoing teen to a shrinking violet as she recounted the beginning of her middle school experience. Although many of us approached the transition to middle school with a balance of excitement and trepidation, we made it through without the degree of suffering and humiliation experienced by this young lady during these formative years. She claims that her life-long tendency to become distracted was further compromised in the beginning of 6th grade when she began to develop intense anxiety about math class. She candidly shared that while she agonized about going to school, her enthusiasm about her friends and the social aspects of school drove her to suppress the incredible stress and queasy stomach flutters she experienced every morning as she headed off to school. She winced as she described the fear that immobilized her when the bell rang for math class. Day after day, she “froze like a deer in headlights” during math instruction and became uncharacteristically quiet and shy until the moment she walked out of her math class. She felt stuck in a horrible cycle in that her lack of concentration and inability to think clearly resulted in missed steps and information, further compounding her ability to complete assigned work successfully. Each day, she entered the class with a desire to do better and could not understand why it was so much easier for her classmates. Her parents were aware of her math struggles though her light-hearted interactions and bigger than life smile masked her daily distress and diminishing self-esteem.

She began to crumble when classmates started to comment that she should be able to do the math or blatantly asked her if she was “stupid”. She no longer felt supported by her teacher or her peers. This exuberant young lady was losing ground-academically, socially and emotionally and began to believe that she was in fact, incapable of succeeding in math. Her mother was her saving grace-rejecting the teacher’s notion that she just needed to try harder and the school’s recommendation for special education. Amanda’s mother told her daughter she knew she was bright and capable of learning but needed an alternative approach to maximize her success. This too scared Amanda as she did not want to repeat the cycle of perceived failure in a new school. Amanda’s mother spoke with friends to identify a good-fit school that would restore her daughter’s confidence and help her to overcome her anxiety and thrive in school.

Amanda has since transitioned into Tampa Day School and as a result of the dynamics of the environment-adults who understand anxiety, small class size, a more personalized instructional approach, and an encouraging peer group-she is meeting with daily success. She hopes that her story will help others to realize that anxiety is not just something students can “push through” and that the symptoms can be truly disabling and have the potential to erode confidence and self-esteem, particularly in the school and social arenas. In a slight elaboration of her words, she hopes that teachers who read this will take the time to understand, connect with and support these students; parents will watch for symptoms and changes in self-esteem and intervene when they realize their child is struggling with anxiety; and classmates will recognize how their actions and words can impact the well-being of others.

Top 5 apps that every student needs to stay organized and focused

Posted on: September 22nd, 2014 by plentz No Comments

Tablets, iPads, and Apps, Oh My!  Today there is an app for everything; manage tasks, edit photos, pay bills, and gather coupons. While working with students who have ADHD, Dyslexia, Anxiety and Executive Function concerns, I have found several excellent apps that help them stay organized and focused.

Check out the top five apps that every student needs to stay organized and focused:

  1. Sure you can use a traditional planner to write down assignments but why not add some novelty to your agenda?  Check out the myHomework app to use on any smartphone or tablet.  Using this app, students can enter assignments, due dates, and even receive alerts to remind them when assignments are due.
  2.  Does your child forget assignments at home?  Has he ever lost his flash drive and can’t complete an assignment.  Sign up for a free Dropbox account and say goodbye to the disappearing digital documents.
  3. Does your child need some tools to track thoughts and emotions?  Try the Momento app.  This app is a digital journal
  4. Brain breaks are an excellent way to provide opportunities for short breaks from academic work to rejuvenate and refocus the brain.  Here are a few apps that are great when kids need a break:  Zentomino, Where’s My Water, and Optical Illusions.  These apps can be found in iTunes.
  5. Backpack?  “Check”. Lunch? “Check”. Planner? “Check”.  Use the To-Do Lists, found in the iTunes store, to prevent the morning mayhem.  Students or parents can create any checklist needed to assist with daily routines.




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Jennifer is graduating in a few weeks. Something that was hard to conceive 5 years ago. A big turning point in Jen’s academic and social life was when she enrolled at Tampa Day School…we credit your great guidance and your great teachers with putting Jen back on the right track.

David and Monica, Parents of a TDS Alumna
12606 Henderson Road
Tampa, FL 33625