August 15, 2014

Homework Strategies for Making Life Easier for ADHD Kids (and their parents)

Guest Expert 
 Home work. Those two words seem mismatched.

Home is where you can chill, be yourself, and get a little break from “work.” And yet homework is what every child dreads. And parents, too!

So who can blame kids for not wanting to do their homework?

As parents, we understand that homework reinforces lessons learned from the school day. Revisiting material and practicing skills is fruitful. However, if you’re reading this, you probably have stories that prove otherwise. Attention-challenged children struggle because of problems unrelated to the specific homework assignment:

·         distraction during the lesson,
·         disenchantment with the topic,
·         dismay by how long it takes to answer a single question
·         discombobulation by all the important information in front of them

Homework also assumes that all children have stay-at-home moms who are “on call” to help – which is not exactly true in this day and age!

Since our smart but scattered children aren’t naturally supplied with minds that can keep track of due dates and directions, here are some pointers to ease their challenge. But remember – the most important thing you can do to help your child,by far, is to notice what she or he does well, and encourage it.

Here are 5 homework strategies to get you started:


Allow your children to help you establish their homework routine.

·         Right after school or later?
·         Broken into time segments?
·         With or without music?
·         At a desk or the kitchen counter? (or changing, depending on the day)

Foster Independence

Around 5th grade, a major goal can be independence with homework. From start to finish, the parent should assist – not nag to completion. You can gradually help your child less and less, and still expect high quality work.

·         Only help when your child wants it.
·         Remember that it’s their work – not yours.
·         Reward for independence, being organized, sticking to a time schedule, etc.

Visual Charts

Large white boards are great, ideally one for each child. If you don’t have room, substitute it with a white piece of paper inside a transparency sheet (the dry-erase part is important). Designate a special place on the wall for it. Use it to make charts that track homework topics or nightly reading. Use abbreviations or humor to simplify and keep your child’s attention.

Boxes on the chart can also list homework assignments and estimations for how long they should take to finish. It’s beneficial to an ADD mind to track time elapsing. After the work is done, write down how long it actually took to track time management.

Physical Space

A desk. The kitchen table. The treehouse. Which is best for learning and focusing? Some children may need to do homework in the same place each night. Some need novelty. While they all learn and respond to different stimuli, they need consistency with the basics:

·         Comfortable, flat surface
·         Well-lit from above
·         Not too far from the printer, if a middle or high schooler
·         Quiet (except possible headphones)
·         Free from distraction
·         No clutter
·         Stocked with needed materials
  • Fidgets that help focus (not distract)
Paperwork – Breathe, and Scan Everything!

Keeping track of the endless reading logs, rubrics, drafts, and study sheets seems impossible! Maintaining their original condition is even more difficult. This is where technology is your friend. Teachers who post documents on their websites are saviors. Scan any blank reading logs or assignments to keep on record at home. It also helps to color code folders and notebooks.