Establishing school day routines

In the classroom

Establishing school day routines

This section helps parents, carers and teachers to: 

  • Establish effective routines for a child with ADHD on school days.

On this page:

  1. Why routine is important ↓
  2. Creating a school day routine ↓
  3. Maintaining a school day routine ↓

Why routine is important

Children with ADHD often face challenges and barriers during the day, such as doing homework, playing with other children and showing disruptive and/or defiant behaviour. The provision of a well-structured routine can be key in assisting them to complete tasks and achieve goals.

A good daily routine at school can:

  • Provide structure and differentiation between each subject, teacher and classroom
  • Help the child to be in class, at the correct time, with the right school work
  • Help the child to focus more easily on achieving each set task by splitting them into smaller, less daunting steps
  • Build in rest periods during intense study to allow for a break in concentration
  • Help build a familiar pattern to the child’s school day.
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Creating a school day routine

Different factors can help create a structured daily school routine, such as:

  • Incorporate a regular time each morning for the teacher to outline the tasks of the day and the small steps needed to achieve them. It may also help to set aside time to discuss any achievements and challenges. Continual reassessment and positive reinforcement of the daily routine can be very helpful
  • Provide a regular timetable with a repeating pattern of lessons, locations and teachers. The child can then become familiar with the routine
  • Assign the child a specific place in the classroom to minimise distractions (such as avoiding windows and doors)
  • Provide a permanent storage area in/near the classroom in which the child can keep books and belongings
  • Prepare ahead for occasional changes to the routine, such as the school’s sports day.
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Maintaining a school day routine

Parents and schools need to work closely together to help children with ADHD keep up with their school day routines. Different tactics can help and it may be a case of experimenting to see which ones work best.

At school, some simple tools may help the child follow a routine. Tactics can include:

  • Ensuring the child wears and can use a watch to increase awareness of time
  • Making sure the routine/timetable is easily accessible.
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Coghill D, et al. Child Adol Psychiatry Mental Health 2008; 2(1): 31.

Dosani S. Calm your hyperactive child (2008). Oxford, UK: Infinite Ideas Ltd.

MTA. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1999; 56: 1073-86.

O’Regan F. How to teach and manage children with ADHD (2010). Nottingham, UK: LDA.

Pontifex MB, et al. J Peds 2013; 162(3): 543-51.

These materials have been produced with practical advice and guidance provided by the expert European ADHD Awareness Taskforce.