How to Help Your ADHD Child With Homework
Getting any child to do their homework can be a challenge, but getting a child who has ADHD to do their homework is a near impossibility. Homework requires a great deal of concentration from the moment it is assigned until the moment it is turned in. In order for a student to know what is expected of them, they have to copy assignments into a notebook or calendar. They must bring home the right books, keep track of due dates and then muster the patience and concentration to get the work done—all tasks for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
If you struggle with helping your student get their homework done, there are some things that you can do to help. From creating consistent routines at home to asking the teachers for help in the classroom, there are ways that you can help your child complete his or her responsibilities without afterschool tears or tantrums.
Helping your child succeed in academics starts with helping him succeed in an academic environment, away from you, your watchful eye and your helping hand. Every teacher should be willing to allow accommodations if doing so means helping a child succeed. If you feel that your child isn’t receiving the proper help or attention at school, here are some points to bring up with their teacher:
- Ask for More Time to Write Down Homework Assignments: Every teacher should post the homework assignment on the whiteboard or a projector in addition to reciting the assignment guidelines out loud. However, for children with ADHD, even doing this much may not be enough. If a teacher is aware of a child’s attention or language deficits, they should give everyone a typed assignment sheet to take home to Mom, Dad or guardians. If your child’s teacher isn’t already doing this, ask them to start.
- Request “Study Buddies”: If a teacher doesn’t want to waste paper on printing assignment sheets (which is understandable considering the tight budgets many have to work with), ask that they partner students so that they can double check each other’s assignment books and make sure that each has the books they’ll need at home.
- Create a “Completed” Folder”: This is something that you can do at home to help your child even if the teacher doesn’t necessarily participate. Use the complete folder as a reminder to your child of what needs to go back to school and of what still needs to be done.
- Ask For a Lighter Workload: Though you don’t want your child to be treated differently in anyway, there will come times when being “equal” isn’t what is best for your child. Children with ADHD tend to work slower and more diligently on an assignment. They also become frustrated more easily, which results in their refusal to do an assignment at all. To ensure that your child still gets the practice they need without the frustration, ask his teacher to cut back on their work load by assigning just the odd-numbered math problems or requiring a few summarizing sentences instead of a whole journal entry.
Asking a teacher to do any of the above will be futile if you yourself don’t do your part to help your child succeed. Some things you can do to make sure that homework gets done (and that your child doesn’t get frustrated doing it) are as follows:
- Set the Stage: Everything from the time your child does his homework to where he does it and in what clothes he does it in can affect how your child responds to his assignments. If your child needs a break after school, schedule homework time for after an hour of play and snacking. If, however, he needs to be in “school mode” to successfully complete an assignment, make homework time directly after school so that he doesn’t lose his focus.
Designate a “homework center” in your home as well. If you allow your child to do his homework in the playroom, he is rightfully going to be distracted. Create a space that is clean and free of distractions to better help him concentrate.
- Be Available: Sit down with your child when it’s time for them to do their homework and walk them through what needs to be done. Once you’ve gone through the directions and made sure that they understand the assignment, leave them be but never go too far. Make it a point to do something else but also to ensure them that you’re available to answer questions if they have any.
- Encourage Movement: Oftentimes, physical activity is the best thing for a child with ADHD, as movement increases mental alertness and gets rid of all the jitters. If an assignment doesn’t require pen and paper, such as reading, let them walk around the house while they read aloud. Even if an assignment does require your child to be sedentary, let them run around a bit to get their energy out before settling down to do homework.
- Spice It Up: Let’s be honest: most homework assignments are boring for most children. If an assignment proves to be especially tedious, such as memorizing vocabulary words, let him jump around on the trampoline while he recites the meaning of “absolutely,” “atrocious” and “fundamental.” Post cards around the house with the words and definitions and then ask him to find the matches. Homework doesn’t have to be boring, and by making it interactive, you can not only help your child learn, but you can also help them associate “learning” with “fun.”
- Negate the Quality Check: For children with ADHD, success isn’t necessarily doing an assignment right the first time around—it’s simply doing the assignment at all. Check to make sure that your student completed the assignment in question and praise them if they did. Leave the quality check to the teacher.
- Know How To Help: If your child gets stuck on a problem—as they are likely to do from time to time—don’t give them the answer. This won’t help with your child just like it wouldn’t help with any other child. Ask them if they have a similar problem in their notes or if there’s an example in his text book. Encouraging him to figure out the answer on his own promotes problem-solving and self-reliance, two things he will need throughout life.
- Hire a Tutor: If you find it difficult to help your child study, find someone who can help them. This in no way shows a weakness on your part; rather, it shows a willingness to do whatever it takes to help your child succeed.
- Use Medication: If absolutely necessary, ask your doctor about a short-acting medication for after school. When the medication is working, your child will be able to stay focused for longer and complete their homework more quickly. Better yet, they will better be able to remember the material they studied.
Get the Help You Need to Better Help Your Child
If your child has ADHD and you find it difficult to help them with their school work, don’t take that difficulty as a reflection on your parenting. It can be difficult to help any child with their homework, but because of your child’s disorder, it is especially trying to get them to sit still for long enough to comprehend the assignment and then to complete it. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you and your child overcome the homework obstacle and completely nightly assignments without tears or frustration. For more information on what you can do to help your child be successful in school, reach out to the Reynolds Clinic at 860.343.0227 or online today.