The Homework System That Really Works
ADHD and homework mix like oil and water. All of the little details — from writing down assignments to remembering due dates — require intense focus and memory. With these routines, teachers and parents can replace after-school tantrums with higher grades.
Homework isn’t easy for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They have to copy assignments, bring home the right books, and keep track of due dates — all difficult tasks for children with poor focus, attention, or memory.
Can you give your child some homework help? Yes! Create consistent routines at home and school and while it may take a few months for routines to become habits, the payoff will be in better work skills, a sense of accomplishment — and lots of after-school smiles.
Solutions at School
– Allow time to write down homework assignments. Teachers should post the day’s assignments on the board, and read them aloud to reinforce the information. If attention or language deficits make it hard for some kids to copy down the homework, give everyone a typed assignment sheet to take home.
– Establish “study buddies.” Partner children so they can check each other’s assignment books and make sure everything is correct and in the right place. At the end of the day, buddies can help each other pack up the planners and books they’ll need at home.
– Create a “completed work” folder. This folder will serve as a reminder for what needs to go back to school. For kids who have trouble remembering their homework, include a sheet for parents to sign once the work is finished and packed in the child’s school bag.
– Lighten the homework load. Children with ADHD work slowly and are easily frustrated. Try cutting down their work load by assigning just the odd-numbered math problems, for example. This way, the student can demonstrate what he’s learned without being pushed too hard.
Solutions at Home
– Make sure homework comes home. If your child has trouble copying down homework assignments, tell his teacher. She may have ideas on how to help him remember, or may be willing to e-mail you the assignments at home.
– Have homework time. Some children need to take a break after school while others work best while still in ‘school mode.’ If after-school activities make a regular schedule difficult, help your child’s time management by posting a weekly calendar that lists homework start and end times each day.
– Create a homework spot. Find a place where your child can work comfortably. Some background music can help kids focus, but otherwise, keep distractions to a minimum.
– Don’t let her procrastinate. Make sure your child understands the assignment and gets started. Stay nearby so you can coach him and offer support.
– Schedule breaks. Concentration takes a lot of energy for kids with ADHD. A five-minute break every 20 minutes helps them recharge.
Keep It Positive
– Respect your child’s “saturation point.” If he’s too tired, stressed or frustrated to finish his homework, let him stop. Write a note to the teacher explaining the situation, and if it happens every night talk to her about reducing the homework load.
– Pack it up. Check to see that your child is organized for school and that finished homework is packed in his book bag — and that the bag is placed by the front door.
– Praise your child’s efforts. Some kids benefit from a token system: When your child finishes his homework on time, add a star to a chart. The stars can then be redeemed for special privileges or items from a wish list.