Homework Help! Tips that Work for ADHD Children

How to Help Your ADHD Child Succeed at School

Homework Help! Tips that Work for ADHD Children

By Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN August 29, 2013 2,703

Back to school means back to homework — a time parents may dread, particularly if their children struggle with schoolwork. If your child has ADHD, there is often the extra challenge of keeping focused as they complete their tasks.

Here are some tips to help parents help their children with this inevitable part of life.

Make a Routine

Nancy Wainscott, a Fort Worth, Texas consultant with a degree in mental health and clinical psychology emphasizes that routines are the most helpful when it comes to ensuring that homework is completed. “This should be non-negotiable,” she says. “It will help the ADHD child stay organized.”

Carving out a routine means having a look at the other activities in your child’s life. What time does he get home from school? Is she in any extra-curricular activities? What time is dinner?

Wainscott recommends children get some sort of physical activity between finishing the school day and starting in on their studies. “If this is not possible, then at least let them unwind and rest before they begin their homework,” she suggests. Also, it’s likely been a long time since lunch, and dinner won’t be for a while, so giving children a good snack may help them concentrate.

If your child is taking medication and its effects are winding down at the end of the day, this has to be taken into consideration as well. It’s important to have the medication still be active during homework time, but not so late that sleeping becomes problematic.

Schedule the Work, Take Breaks

Scheduling what type of work needs to be done, and how long a block of time your child will spend on it, is helpful. For example, this could involve scheduling the first 15 minutes for math, the next 15 minutes for spelling, and then a 10-minute break before moving on. If your child has a favorite subject or one that is the easiest, perhaps this could be left for last, so that they feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of their homework session.

Breaks are important, no matter how tempting it can be to get through all the homework in one shot. However, Wainscott recommends that the breaks be taken in the same room, instead of leaving the area and going to play video games or watching television. This avoids problems that can occur with redirecting attention from more attractive activities.

Speak to the Teachers

Speaking to your child’s teachers at the beginning of the year about school and homework expectations is an important part of a successful year. Opening the discussion with the teacher so he or she is aware of your child’s ADHD can help avoid a problem where the child is thought of as being lazy or rebellious.

Wainscott also suggests checking to see if there is a way that at least some of the homework can be completed at school, such as in study hall. In addition, she likes to see a folder organization system between school and home. “I think the teacher and the child should have a folder system that allows the child to be organized. This will help the child not take their homework and shove everything into a backpack,” she says.

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