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Help Children With ADHD Complete Their Homework in 5 Quick Steps

written by: Donna Cosmato • edited by: Amy Carson • updated: 6/22/2015

Homework struggles, exhausted parents, and worn-out children; sound like your home? If you have a child with ADHD they may need some extra help learning to self-manage homework duties. These five quick steps lead to success for these kids and peace for the home.

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    Homework Is there life after homework for parents of kids with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)? The good news is – yes. It is possible to do homework night after night in a hassle-free way.

    Here are common sense homework strategies specifically designed to empower parents and kids. These five quick steps will teach you how to help your child with ADHD to manage their homework hassle-free.

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    The Tips

    1. Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM)

    Partner with school staff and any others involved in your child’s education. Unified teams working to develop a child successful with organizing, preparing, and delivering homework daily is the goal.

    Make sure homework requirements are age appropriate and geared to the child’s needs. If laws in your state provide for special accommodations for ADHD, be proactive and advocate for your child.

    Children with ADHD need routine, dependability, and consistency to complete homework tasks daily. While adults quickly tire of doing repetitive tasks at a specific time and place, for those with ADHD this consistency is a guaranteed recipe for success.


    2. Where to Do Homework

    Make sure their is a designated space for homework; preferably, not the kitchen table. A non-traditional approach of replacing conventional desks and chairs works wonders for a fidgety student.

    Instead of fighting their need to move around, utilize it. For instance, give them a huge floor pillow and lap desk for writing. The novelty of wallowing on the floor while doing homework acts as a deliberate distraction to turn their focus from the unwanted task (homework) to the fun of being on the floor.

    Kids get tired of having their legs dangle from chairs all day long, and you would too. Let them stand, pace, or move about if they need to; the goal is getting the homework done, not perching on a chair at a desk for a prescribed amount of time.

    3. Ignoring Conventional Wisdom

    Most experts recommend doing homework as soon as kids get home; however, is that really the best time for kids with ADHD? They just finished about seven hours sitting at a desk trying to stay still, pay attention, and be quiet. Whew! They need a short break to wind down, but avoid the trap of letting them watch television or play video games.

    A brief period of physical activity clears their minds, so they can focus on homework. Walking, playing ball, dancing, or other movement is the ticket. Follow this break with a snack high in protein and planned around tryptophan-rich foods like turkey, and your child with ADHD is ready to tackle homework.

    4. Keep It Short, Sweetie (KISS)

    Short chunks of concentrated work interspersed with physical activity breaks set the stage for hassle-free homework times. Turn the tables and let kids teach or quiz you.

    Pitch a foam ball back and forth while practicing times tables. Sing spelling words or write vocabulary words on address labels with brightly colored markers, and then peel off labels and stick on a word wall. The key to these activities is engaging all the senses of the ADHD child to facilitate learning.


    5. Music Therapy and ADHD

    While many experts advise avoiding distractions like music, another school of research – music therapy for children with ADHD - shows use of certain styles of music calms children with ADHD while increasing learning and retention. Classical music is recommended with a focus on Mozart and Bach.

    Team up, have fun being unorthodox, move to the music, and see your child gain confidence and perform better at school.

    In summary, any parent can learn how to help children with ADHD complete and turn in their homework assignments. Do not be afraid to be wild and wacky in your approach, and remember the goal is to help your children learn to self-manage his ADHD and homework.


  • Image credits: Public Domain/Petr Kratochvil
  • Author's own experience parenting a child with autism and ADHD