ADHD Student CoachingProven to Increase the Odds for School Success!
STUDENT COACHING: It Works!
Coaching increases the odds of success in school for everyone, but it is especially helpful for students with ADHD or executive function challenges!
Unfortunately, only about 22% of high school students with ADHD go on to college, and the percentage that will actually graduate is closer to 5%.
Now, research has proven the benefits of student coaching. I was proud to be one of the coaches in a powerful study, conducted by researchers from Wayne State University in Michigan, in conjunction with The Edge Foundation. Read on for results, and more about coaching.
Research supports the benefits of coaching:
“Coaching helps college students with ADHD improve their ability to organize, set and achieve goals, and self-regulate – all critical skills needed for a successful post-secondary education.”
“Additionally, students who participated in the study felt that coaching helped them to feel less stress, greater empowerment, increased their confidence and helped them to have more balanced lives.”
“…Self-regulation was more than double the typical educational intervention, and executive functioning was quadruple. Findings with effect sizes that large are rare.”
Pretty impressive! For years I’ve seen students benefit from coaching with me, but it is great to have research quantify and confirm the value of Student Coaching.
Medication, for many students with ADHD, may improve academic productivity (note-taking, focus, testing, homework completion, etc.), but it doesn’t help with the skills college students must develop to thrive in a situation where they need to rely on their own initiative to succeed.
Coaching Goals: What We Work On
- Scheduling & effective time management – including the importance of clarifying assignments, understanding the difference between tasks and projects, blocking in all activities to plan for deadlines
- Setting goals & priorities – instead of just ‘winging it’
- Building confidence – success IS possible, despite a history of failures or under-performance (our belief systems totally affect our performance and how we perceive our ability to succeed)
- Self-advocacy – how to get what you need from the school and professors
- Accountability – instead of waiting for grades, there is weekly focus on performance, along with support and creation of strategies to overcome challenges (catching the problems early!), helping to develop structure and reinforce commitment
- Organizing – time, papers, study area, study groups
- Taking responsibility – for schoolwork, finances, self-care, self-regulation (social, drinking, driving, etc.); learning to delay gratification and work towards longer term goals
- Life issues – including self-care (food, exercise, sleep, money, laundry); socializing and making time for fun, but balancing with schoolwork
- Study, writing & project management skills – techniques and strategies, both practical and attitude/belief systems
- Success blocks – perfectionism, brain-freeze, lack of clarity, staying focused, completion avoidance, self-doubt, etc.
- Beyond school – summer employment, Internships, applying to grad school, career direction, job search strategies
Student Coaching Requirements
I work with college, graduate, some high school and occasionally, middle school students. Often, parents want coaching for their student, but the student doesn’t buy in, or isn’t ready to do the work. While full commitment may not exist at the beginning of this process, the student MUST be willing. I have two requirements:
- Total honesty – it is okay if things are not working; we can always explore new strategies, but I need to know what is really happening.
- Willingness to make the effort and try the things we discuss.
Usually the parent contacts me first and we chat by phone, although sometimes it is the student who calls or emails for an appointment.
I will then schedule time to speak directly with older students. This initial get-acquainted chat by phone determines whether the student is willing to try coaching, and if there is a match (whether I am the right coach for this student). If not, I can make referrals to other coaches.
How Student Coaching Works
Once we all decide coaching is a good idea, this is how it works:
- Coaching is usually by phone or Skype. This saves time and effort, fits into busy student schedules and helps distinguish coaching from medical and academic interventions. The goal of coaching is to discover strategies and mindset to make life easier and more successful – not to ‘fix,’ tutor, medicate or psychoanalyze the student. NOTE: Some students need in-person support, and are not candidates for this type of coaching, although most students prefer the convenience of working by phone or Skype.
- We begin with a double-session (up to one hour). The student and I will explore the current situation, history and concerns. If the student is local, we may opt for a longer in-person initial Discovery session at your home, their school or my location. This often increases comfort level by creating an opportunity for me to learn more about the student, and for the student to get to know me. We discuss in greater detail how coaching helps with ADHD and other brain-based differences, improves school performance and increases self-awareness. I will answer any questions and even put on my professional organizer hat to check out organizational concerns.
- We then move on to 30-minute phone or Skype sessions, which usually wind up being weekly, but we may skip holidays or, during difficult periods, have a double-session or fit in an extra session during the week. Occasionally, I may work with a student in-person.
- In between actual coaching sessions, the student should expect to be checking in with me by email or text. If we speak on a Monday and they have a major paper due on Friday, I don’t want to wait until it is too late to find out about problems in getting the paper completed on time (and on topic!). These check-ins are included in the monthly coaching fee.
Realize that my client is the student, and unless there is a good reason (imminent danger), I will not discuss the details of our sessions with the parents. However, as you are paying, you have a right to know the generalities of what we discuss, and if your child is benefiting from coaching.
It is important to understand that, while improved grades are a goal, it is not always indicative of the student’s growth – the challenges did not appear overnight, and improvements will take time as well.
During the initial meetings with the student we establish standards for keeping parents in the loop. In some cases I may also have sessions with parents, or consult with the student’s other treatment professionals.
Payment is in advance. The first payment is for 6 sessions: the initial double plus four 30-minute phone or Skype sessions. If possible, I highly recommend we begin the process with an in-person, extended Discovery session, replacing the initial double call. The fee for this in-person session is distance-based. Following payments are for four- or twelve- session periods. (Sometimes sessions run shorter, and other times we may go over a bit. At critical times we might schedule a double session or two sessions in one week, although usually email, text or a quick phone call suffices.) The typical monthly fee for phone or Skype coaching is $500.