Parent Resources

Virtual Learning: Maximizing the Experience for Students with ADHD and ADD

By Dr. Jennifer Walsh-Rurak, Ed.D.

Virtual Learning: Maximizing the Experience for Students with ADHD and ADD

The COVID-19 health crisis has forced most academic institutions to transition from traditional brick and mortar classrooms to moving classes online, essentially overnight. For children with ADHD and ADD, as well as their parents, learning to navigate instruction in a virtual space has meant exploring a variety of strategies and approaches.

Whether your child is new to virtual learning, you’re thinking about enrolling in an online school, or this is their norm, here are some considerations for students with ADHD and ADD while they are learning online:


For students with ADD/ADHD, maintaining routines while learning virtually is paramount to success. In times of uncertainty, stability helps to promote normalcy, increase productivity, and ease anxiety for students. Encourage your child to create and post a schedule that identifies daily start and end times, as well as scheduling times for independent work, stretch breaks, socializing online, and exercise. Ensure that students have a clear understanding of various deadlines and submission expectations for each of their classes that are reflected within the daily schedule. By doing so, we are helping students to recognize that while our circumstances have changed, we can all benefit from building predictable routines and normalcy into our days.

Minimize Distractions

Given that our homes have become our classrooms, new distractions have emerged such as video games, televisions, or trips to the refrigerator. Helping to reduce distractions can optimize learning time. Setting up a quiet workspace at home, which is free of extraneous diversions, can help promote staying on task. Additionally, identifying a space to be used exclusively during the school day allows students to compartmentalize an environment for school tasks that they are able to walk away from when schoolwork is complete.

Movement as an Instructional Component

Building movement into the school day is often a critical component for success for children with ADHD and ADD while learning online. Utilizing a standing desk, sitting on a yoga ball, providing stress balls or other palpable objects can provide positive and meaningful outlets for energy. Taking breaks from screen time periodically throughout the day to take a walk or stretch can ultimately promote engagement and allow students to improve focus.

Minimizing Multiple Platforms & Tools

Access to a robust library of resources, online services, and apps can enhance the online learning experience. Teachers are also utilizing a variety of platforms for students to post responses and submit completed work. While these tools can enhance learning, the variety of tools can also become overwhelming for children with ADHD and ADD and ultimately detract from the learning experience. Parents and teachers should check in with students about how they are managing the wide variety of online tools and resources. In some instances, it may be necessary to streamline the tools and reduce the variety of platforms being used in order to optimize learning.

Emotional Support & Reducing Anxiety

In a time of uncertainty paired with the substantial change our students are facing, it is critical to ensure that students feel safe and cared about. Parents and teachers alike can help reduce anxiety and promote mental health by checking in regularly. Asking questions about how a child is feeling and providing honest answers and resources can help mitigate concerns and ensure that children with ADHD and ADD have the support they need. Providing ample time to connect with peers online can make the online learning experience less isolating and promote a sense of connectedness and community. One benefit of online learning through organizations like Fusion Global Academy is that it allows students an opportunity to connect with peers from around the country and the world.


Learning online is a partnership between parents, students, and teachers. It is essential that the lines of communication are open, and that social, emotional, and academic supports are in place to ensure that students with ADHD and ADD continue to grow and thrive while learning virtually.

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Dr. Jennifer Walsh-Rurak, Ed.D.
About the Author

Dr. Jennifer Walsh Rurak, Ed.D is the District Vice President for Fusion Academy's Northeast area. Previous to her regional role, she served as Head of School for Fusion Westchester. She earned her Doctor of Education degree with a concentration in Educational and Instructional Leadership from Northeastern University. Additionally, she has a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership/Administration and a Master of Science degree in Special Education both from Canisius College, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and Exceptionalities from SUNY Cortland. Prior to joining Fusion Academy, Jennifer spent nine years as a school principal working in public school settings in New York State and taught at the middle school level prior to becoming an administrator. In addition, she has worked as an adjunct graduate professor in the Educational Leadership department at St. Lawrence University. When Jennifer is not working, she enjoys running, Pilates, and boating.

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