Church classes for children with ADHD can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, church classes, even those for special needs kids, are often staffed with volunteers who have little experience with children with ADHD. On the other hand, most people who volunteer to teach church classes have a strong desire for children to like their class and to love the Lord.
Do be involved with your church’s children’s program.
- The best way to help your child is to volunteer in the classroom. This gives you a heads up on the discipline policy, gives you more weight in discussions about learning disabled students, and lets you have first person exposure to the issues your child may be facing. If your child is especially anxious, or has a lot of trouble with learning or social interactions, consider being his personal classroom aide.
- Make it a regular habit to ask the teacher how class went. This alone may help you identify problem behaviors before they escalate and allow you to pray for the teacher. This also gives you the opportunity to offer suggestions on what works for your child.
- Be specific about what you want the teacher to contact you about. Some teachers do not really know what normal behavior is for a child.
Do prepare your child for class.
- If your child receives medication on school days, consider also medicating on Sundays. This is especially true if they disrupt class and you are not staying in the classroom. If this is not possible because of side effect issues, consider asking for a shorter acting medication only for Sundays.
- Be sure that your child gets enough rest on Saturday night.
- Feed your child a decent breakfast that includes protein and does not include a lot of sugar.
- Consider bringing a snack in if your child’s class routinely gives candy, sugar cereal, or other foods that trigger ADHD symptoms.
Don’t pull out of church just because your child doesn’t conform with how you think they are supposed to behave. If you have persistent difficulties, don’t hesitate to talk to the religious education director or children’s ministry director, if there is one. Some families do have to move their child’s religious education home, especially if there are problems with aggressive or persistently disruptive behavior, however this does not mean that you have to do it alone. If your church is familiar with your child’s difficulties, they will likely try to support you in your efforts at home if the classroom just doesn’t work for your child.
Don’t feel like your child has to have “gotten” everything taught in the lesson. The most important thing for a child to learn from church classes is that church is a place where people love them. If your denomination requires a certain fund of knowledge, for example, to participate in communion, you may need to work on things at home. That’s ok. What’s taught in the home far outweighs what’s taught in Sunday School in terms of what kids will ultimately do as adults anyway.
The author has 10 years of experience in either teaching or assistant teaching Sunday School to a variety of age groups.