Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: The Worn Out, Frustrated, Impatient Homework Problem

One page of homework can take multiple hours — and plenty of tears — when children with ADHD struggle to stay motivated or their medication has worn off. Learn how parents can use movement, novelty, and encouragement to help kids tackle homework and boost focus.

Q: “My son seems unable to sit and do homework. One page of math problems takes us ~four hours. Tears are often involved. I know his Vyvanse has worn off by this time; however, additional Adderall disrupts his sleep. What system can I set up to facilitate his ability to do homework?” —MaxPI

Hi MaxPI:

Trust me, you are not alone on this one! To infuse your son’s homework routine with productivity and energy, get him moving!

Movement helps us stay on task and lays down learning. So play “Hide the Homework” with your student. Hide his assignment somewhere in the house; wherever he finds it is where he does it! English assignments done in the bathtub (no water!) and math problems completed under the kitchen table seem to take less time.

Or play “Beat the Clock” by setting up homework stations around your kitchen table. Place a timer in the middle; when it goes off, your student moves to the next station.

Or get him outside. I have students doing math homework with sidewalk chalk or learning vocabulary words while jumping on the trampoline. Have a dog that needs walking? You grab the flashcards, your son grabs the dog — and by the time you’re back, he’s studied for his exam. By adding energy and fun into his daily homework routine, you will keep him motivated and on-task.

If you want more of these types of out-of-the-box “Homework Helpers”, check out my book, What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management for entire chapters devoted to this subject!

[Free Download: 6 Ways to Retain Focus (When Your Brain Says ‘No!’)]

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time. Submit your questions here!