Tips to Help Children With ADHD Complete Their Homework
written by: Dr. Anne Zachry
• edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• updated: 10/19/2012
ADHD in children causes inattentiveness and fidgeting, symptoms which make the task of homework completion difficult. Parents can help by implementing these suggestions for organizing homework and studying efficiently. These simple strategies can help students succeed in the classroom.
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Common Homework Struggles
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often have a difficult time focusing on schoolwork, an issue that not only impacts classroom performance, but also results in difficulty completing homework. A diagnosis of ADHD inherently affects the areas of the brain that regulate concentration, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. As a result, students with this disorder often have trouble staying on task when completing written homework assignments, reading texts, and studying for exams.
As students get older and homework requirements increase, children and teens with ADHD may become increasingly frustrated and stressed if appropriate school and home supports are not set in place. These students may struggle with remembering to bring assignments home from school, organizing homework in a way that is conducive to their learning styles, completing assignments and returning work to teachers on time, and retaining the information needed to receive high scores on tests.
While ADHD can intensify homework issues for students, parents can assist in easing these burdens by introducing certain techniques and methods for their children to follow,
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Methods and Strategies to Help
These simple strategies can be used by students of all ages and adjusted according to the amount of homework a child receives. When used consistently, these tips will lead to productive homework sessions.
Try to establish a set time frame every day for completing homework assignments. For example, a child with ADHD can get into the habit of starting homework an hour or two after school has ended, which allows time for relaxation upon arriving home. Start working on assignments early in the evening so that ample time is available to finish tasks. However, it is important to consider medication issues. If the child’s medication wears off by early evening, it may be in the student’s best interest to provide a brief snack and break time immediately after school and then have the child complete assignments in the early afternoon.
ADHD in children may impact their ability to sit still for a long period of time. Parents should offer “movement" breaks at regular intervals so that kids can have the opportunity to stretch their legs or do brief exercises before resuming homework. Allowing the child to sit on an exercise ball or stand while completing homework allows movement and may help keep a student on task for a longer period of time.
Allow your child to chew gum or offer chewy or crunchy snacks during study time. Oral stimulation can often be organizing and help with the ability to focus. Children often try to “self-organize" by chewing on pencil erasers or other items; however, it is much more appropriate to offer gum or snacks.
Eliminate as many distractions as possible. Turn off the television and the ringer on the phone, and remind siblings to stay as quiet as possible during homework time.
When an assignment is time-consuming, children with ADHD can prevent loss of concentration by dividing the work into "chunks." For example, a homework sheet with 20 math problems can be broken into 5-problem segments with short breaks in between. Teachers may modify assignments for students with ADHD as well.
Teachers and parents can assist an ADHD child in organizing homework each day. Teachers can provide the student with a homework assignment sheet, divided into subjects, that clearly outlines the work that must be completed. Parents can refer to this sheet at home, reminding the child to check off each assignment when it is finished. Teachers and parents can also help students to organize their backpacks and folders so that assignments are sent home and returned when due. It is often beneficial to have one large binder divided into subject areas rather than expecting the child to keep up with multiple binders.
Students with ADHD should receive plenty of advance notice in regard to test dates, so that parents and children can work out a schedule for study time.
Parents should also keep in mind that some kids learn better with background noise, such as music. Research has found that studying to music helps one pay attention by engaging areas of the brain that impact focus and memory. Calming tunes such as classical music are typically recommended. However, studying to music is not for everyone, some students focus better in a quiet environment with no distractions.
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Parents should remain patient and assist the child in keeping a regular routine. In time, using these recommended techniques, children can develop a homework routine that is best suited to their individual needs.