BE THERE. Sit with your child and talk through what needs to be done. Once she starts to work, you may fold laundry, knit, or read in the same room. At some point, she may ask you to leave. If so, go.
GET HIM MOVING. Physical activity — walking on a treadmill or fiddling with pipe cleaners — increases alertness for mental activity. Encourage your student to walk around the house reading aloud from a book. Chances are, she will soon settle down and be able to focus on her work.
USE MEDICATION. Talk with your doctor about prescribing a short-acting medication for after school. When medication is working, students stay focused and complete homework more quickly. They also tend to remember the material they studied.
SET THE STAGE. Make your child feel comfortable as he starts his homework. Have him wear comfortable clothes, and make the sure the environment doesn’t distract him. Some kids need a quiet room with no distractions, while others need a little background noise.
MAKE IT FUN. Writing the definitions of 25 vocabulary words is boring. Turn it into a game. Post words and definitions around the house for your child to match. Have him jump on the trampoline while learning multiplication facts. Talk with his teacher about ways to make homework active.
AVOID INTERRUPTIONS. Once the student begins homework, hold his telephone calls until break time or until homework is completed. You may have to take his cell phone away to keep him from texting.
SPICE THINGS UP. If a homework assignment is boring, play music or TV at low volume. For reading, break assignments into segments marked by colored paper clips. When the student reads as far as the clip, he can take a well-deserved break.
SKIP MISSING INFORMATION. Students with ADHD often look for excuses to stop doing their homework. So if he needs information to answer a question, have him work around it, leaving a blank that can be filled in later that night or the next day.
NAG NO MORE. Ask your child how many reminders she’ll need to stay on task in order to finish an assignment. If she says she’ll need two reminders, stick to that number. When she’s off track, state that you are giving a friendly reminder and then walk away. At any point when you see that she’s doing the right thing, praise her diligence.
CHECK FOR COMPLETION. Rather than arguing with your child over the quality of the work he’s producing, hold him accountable only for completing the homework thoroughly. Leave the quality check to the teacher.
HELP THE RIGHT WAY. If your child gets “stuck” from time to time when doing homework — solving a math problem, say — don’t do it for him. Ask your child if there are similar problems in his notes or if there’s an example in his textbook. This encourages problem-solving and self-reliance, and takes you out of the equation.
TAKE A BREAK IF NO HOMEWORK HAS BEEN ASSIGNED. Don’t require your child to study on those rare days when he doesn’t have anything to do. Use the time to have fun with your child. You will deepen family relationships and build his self-esteem.
FIND A TUTOR. If you find it hard to help your child with schoolwork, find someone who can. A junior or senior high school student may be ideal — and charge a modest fee — depending on the need and age of your child.