“All Done, Mom!”

How to help your child complete his homework assignments on time and without frustrations or fights.

Writing out Math Problems is a good homework strategy

For children who have ADHD or a learning disability, forgotten papers or lengthy assignments can make homework time a major struggle – one that ensnares parents, too. Here’s what you can do to make things easier.

Enlist the teacher’s help

Ask the teacher how long she expects it should take to complete homework assignments – and make sure your child stays within that time limit. Often, teachers are willing to accept an incomplete assignment as long as a child demonstrates an understanding of the material.

Ideally, the bulk of each assignment will constitute a review of material already covered in class. If your child is being given assignments that cover new material, talk to the teacher. Let her know that kids with ADHD may have trouble tackling new material on their own.

Ask the teacher to make sure that your child writes down the day’s assignments and that he packs the books and papers needed to complete them. Ask for regular updates on how your child is doing, homework-wise. A weekly note from the teacher should suffice.

What to do at home

Make homework an integral part of your child’s daily routine. With her input, choose a time to start homework – and enforce that time with absolute consistency.

Does your child take medication? If so, the best time to tackle homework may be immediately after school, while the medication is still effective. If your child needs a mental break after school, or time for physical activity, talk with her doctor about adding another dose of medication, so she can do homework later in the day.

Your child should work in a spot where you can supervise without hovering, such as the kitchen table. Use this time to pay bills or send e-mails; it’ll provide your child with a model for good work habits. Offer encouragement and praise while he works.

Together, make a homework plan. Detail the time required for each assignment and the goal she is working toward. For example, if she brings home a math worksheet, her goal might be to complete at least half the problems in 20 minutes with at least 80 percent accuracy. Let your child’s age and capabilities determine the length and goal of each homework session. Once she has met the goal, she can take a five-minute break. Keep the television off, so it’s easier for her to return to work.

If your child meets the goal, reward her with points or tokens redeemable for privileges – a DVD, time on a GameBoy, or a special outing with mom or dad.