Homework & Studying

Help Your Child Focus at School When ADHD Gets In the Way

From exercise and earmuffs to cutting-edge digital tools, our readers share their best (and most creative) tips for helping students with ADHD focus their attention at and after school.

A teacher employs smart strategies to help her children focus in class.
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Strengthening School Focus

Attracting and retaining the attention of a child with ADHD at school is no easy feat, but the right accommodations can make a tremendous difference for student and teacher alike. ADDitude readers share some of the tried-and-true classroom tricks that have helped their children focus.

A girl writing on a chalkboard, checking off ways to help herself focus in school
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Prompt With Pictures

Using a laminated end-of-the-day checklist with pictures of each task helps my child remember to record homework assignments and to bring home the necessary supplies like books, papers, and folders. A separate checklist for morning routines like turning in homework also helps.”  –Tammy

Thumbs up and thumbs down, representing good and bad ways to help your child focus
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Ensure Understanding

"To make sure our son was really understanding homework and in-class tasks, the teacher gave him red and green cards for his desk that he could raise to let her know non-verbally if he didn't get a problem or assignment." –Lauri

A teacher helping a child focus on his classwork
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Show Visual Progress

"Last year, teachers helped our son by placing a strip on his desk with a start and a finish line. They would take a little Velcro man and put him where he needed to be on his school work. He moved through assignments slowly, but each day he won the race!" –Ashley

A girl wearing earmuffs to help herself focus
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Block Out Background Noise

“We live in Chicago. Last winter my 10-year-old daughter excitedly told me about an accommodation that SHE suggested to her teacher, and the teacher gamely went along with. She asked if she could wear her earmuffs during independent writing time, to drown out classroom chatter! And it works!” –Suzanne

A boy riding a bike to help himself burn energy and focus
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Pedal to the Mettle

“The school placed an exercise bike in my son's classroom to give him regular opportunities for activity, which helps him regulate his body energy and persevere on assignments.” –Kristine

Bored girl in classroom trying to focus.
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Budget Out Breaks

“Having a 'thinking box' for our daughter helps her take ownership of when she needs an accommodation. She has 'thinking tickets' that she can turn in for helps – a chewy snack, a water break, a fidget, or moving to a different seat. She only has a certain amount of tickets for the day so she has to plan, evaluate, and problem solve when to use them.” –An ADDitude reader

Two girls in class, trying to help each other focus
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Partner Up With Peers

"Our middle school daughter has a senior student 'buddy' who she meets for 40 minutes every other week. Her buddy gives tips that helped when she was in middle school, and helps with any projects she's behind on. Last year, the buddy even helped my daughter totally reorganize her very disorganized backpack, when she would get upset with me if I even threw away a gum wrapper.” –Sally

A ADHD girl laying outside trying to help herself focus on homework
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Don't Procrastinate. Dictate!

"The Dragon Dictation app allowed my son to speak what he was thinking and then edit and review later. It made a huge difference in the amount of writing he was actually able to complete! Although we still have a long way to go, he has a lot less trouble getting the words out of his head onto the paper.” -Jessi

A math assignment getting an F because the student couldn't focus
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Honor Learning Styles

“My son is better verbally than he is on paper. He takes written tests with the class, and then takes the test again orally. The final grade is the average of the two scores." –An ADDitude Reader

Phones and laptop, tools that can help children focus
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Find Phones' Functions

My oldest grandson is allowed to use his cell phone to take a picture of the homework assignment on the whiteboard. Now, 'I don't have any homework,' or, 'I don't remember' aren't an issue. Then the school has students text their teacher and they get text reminders to finish the homework. Also kids set phone alarms for school deadlines.” –An ADDitude Reader

A father trying to help his son focus on homework
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Go Digital With Google Docs

“My son can submit his homework through Google Docs so he doesn't have to remember to take it to class and hand it in. He completes homework in the digital document, and it's instantly shared with his teachers so they have it automatically.” –Sharon

ADHD bored boy struggling to focus on his homework, needs help
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Split Work Into Sections

"Our daughter was able to get more done when we used a colored folder to divide assignments into segments. We cut the front into three strips. She would open the top strip, and complete that portion. Then, if needed, she'd take a break and return to the second portion later. The ability to focus on the open section, and not look at the entire assignment was a huge improvement.” –Joe'L