The Five Basic Steps
1. Strip the homework directions down to their basics. Using easy words and direct commands makes it easier for the ADHD child to understand and follow. Keep the sentences as short as possible. Avoid using commas to separate ideas, which can add extra confusion and possible misinterpretation. Instead, use periods to separate ideas. Turn the instruction into a question if possible. Do not elaborate on the instruction unless it is absolutely necessary.
For example, let's use the direction "Begin by reading the first story and identify the subject, the main characters, and the moral of the story". This will confuse any ADHD child because all of the information is jammed into one sentence.
An improved, ADHD-friendly version would be "Read the first story. What is the subject? Who are the main characters? What is the moral of the story?"
This eliminates any wordiness, separates each thought into a direct, easy-to-follow format, and also turns most of the thoughts into questions. Using questions act as a signal to children, commanding them to take an action instead of simply reading the instruction.
2. If possible, use pictures or charts to illustrate homework directions. ADHD children respond better to visual cues, which reduces the amount of time they have to concentrate. The less time they have to concentrate, the better their school grades will be.
For example, let's use the same direction. For the first part, "Read the first story," draw an arrow from the homework direction to the story. For the direction "Who are the main characters?" include a drawing of the two main characters described in the story next to the question. Not only does it make it easier for the ADHD child to comprehend, the visual aids also provide additional clues for comprehending the question's meaning.
3. Split each set of homework directions. Do not include more than one set of homework directions on one page. If the child loses concentration and scans the entire page, he or she may see the additional instructions and become confused.
Instead, only include one set of homework directions on each page. For example, you would include the example "Read the first story" draw an arrow from the homework direction to the story. For the direction "Who are the main characters?" you would not include instructions for the next story.