For Teachers

8 Reasons Teachers Should Rethink Homework

Teachers, consider these good homework practices to make nightly learning simpler and more effective — and lead to less stress for your students with ADHD and LD at home.

Teenage school boy with ADHD with a backpack walking to school
Teenage school boy with ADHD with a backpack walking to school

Teachers of kids with ADHD or LD should keep in mind that it takes these children longer to do homework than it does neurotypical kids. What takes a child who hasn’t been diagnosed with ADHD or LD 15 or 20 minutes to complete frequently takes three or four times longer for a child with ADHD.

Less Stress, Please

What’s more, teachers should be aware that many families have conflicts in their homes over homework. In families with children with ADHD, the stress surrounding homework issues is intense, placing strain on the parent/child relationship. Here are eight classroom tips to make homework more productive:

1. Be responsive to parents reporting great frustration over doing homework. Be willing to make adjustments, so that students spend a reasonable amount of time doing their homework.

2. Realize that students with ADHD who receive medication during the school day (to help them focus and stay on-task) often do not receive medication in the evening. Students with ADHD are in class during their optimal production times, yet will not manage to complete their work. It is unreasonable to think that parents will be able to get their child to produce at home that evening what you were not able to get them to produce at school.

3. Many teachers have a practice of sending unfinished classwork home. Avoid or minimize doing so, if possible. Instead, provide the necessary modifications for students with ADHD so that in-school work is in-school work, and homework is homework.

4. Homework is a time for reviewing and practicing what students have been taught in class. Don’t give assignments involving new information that parents are expected to teach.

5. Homework should not be “busy work.” Make the homework relevant and purposeful — so that time spent reinforces skills or concepts you have already taught.

6. Never add on homework as a punishment for misbehavior at school.

7. Assign students with ADHD a study buddy who is responsible and willing to be contacted after school.

8. Make adaptations to homework for individual students. Ask yourself, “What do I want all students to learn from the assignment?” “Can this student get the concepts without having to do all the writing?” “Can he/she demonstrate understanding in a more motivating format?”

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