Homework Tips for Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Homework time is a struggle for many children, especially those with Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADD/ADHD is present in 4 to 7 percent of children.  In this era of successful medical treatment of symptoms, it becomes very important to discuss with parents the need for strategies that children can use to become more focused.

The earlier a routine is started the more successful children will be as they grow older.

  1. Stay on a schedule as much as possible. Maintain regular wake-up and bedtimes.  Children thrive with routine and get overwhelmed by changes. ADD/ADHD patients need it even more. Too many activities or changes add stress to children.
  2. Have a morning routine each day: wake up, make bed, bathe, eat breakfast and brush teeth. Recognize your child’s progress with the routine and the independence developed in tasks.
  3. Make lists. Organize tasks that need to be completed every morning or evening.  Make checklists and check off or cross out the task after it has been completed.
  4. Point charts or behavior charts can be time-consuming for the parent but it gives your child an excellent visual aid to chart progress. 
  5. Use school or homework planners – many schools provide them to students.  Help your child develop a habit of writing down assignments to review with you upon getting home.
  6. Encourage time management. When your child gets home from school allow a short break and then start on homework immediately. Procrastination is the enemy of a busy student. If your child is on medication, starting homework immediately also allows you the benefit of the treatment.
  7. Divide difficult tasks into manageable increments. Allow a short break and return to the task where the child left off.
  8. Use timers, alarms and other reminders to keep your child on track. Make the best use of modern technology at children’s fingertips.
  9. Study and work in an environment with minimal distractions. Have your child focus on studying – it is a demanding activity – without music or computer distractions.
  10. Practice a sleep routine with your child. Winding down is a challenge to many children. Keeping a routine helps one slow down and actually go to sleep.
  11. Help children with immediate, intermediate and long-term goals. First, finish homework for the next day. Then study for the quiz scheduled a few days away. Even start planning the project due in a few weeks.  
  12. Make use of school resources such as a study buddy, a student tutor and academic labs or study halls to help children at all levels.

As children get older, their homework gets longer, more demanding and more sophisticated. Their life gets busier. This is complicated by the fact that they sleep less either by choice or by the demands of school or work. ADD/ADHD affects these older children as well. Though the hyperactivity may have dissipated, the inattention remains. 

Older children are often less supervised, yet concerns over their multi-tasking have heightened in the face of advancing technology. The parent continues to be the one who will need to specially monitor driving, cell phone use, loud music and possible substance use. By this time, habits learned early in life should have become incorporated as part of daily living. 

Good coping strategies and study habits get carried on to the later school years. Whether homework is done in kindergarten or in a college class, good habits become strategies for success.

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