There’s a universal truth that applies to all kids, regardless of culture, religion or language: they hate to do homework. For children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD), the aversion to homework may be even more intense, given their more limited ability to stay focused. Yet homework is a fact of life for a student. So how can you help a child with ADHD / ADD tackle this unavoidable challenge?
There are several aspects to this challenge that should be addressed. One of them is organizational skills.
Obviously, the strategies used for an older child or teenager will be different from those used for a young child. In this piece, we’ll focus on strategies that can be used with younger children.
Get in the habit of discussing homework as soon as your child arrives home from school.
This tip comes from a mother who repeatedly hears “I forgot to do my science homework!” at 9:30 at night. Address this challenge by discussing how the school day went and what homework was given. Talk about how much time it’s likely to take. It doesn’t need to be completed right away, but get it onto your child’s radar screen so he or she knows that part of the evening will be spent completing homework. If you discuss homework every afternoon, you will establish a habit of acknowledging and planning for what needs to be done. If necessary, create a chart or use a whiteboard to note the day’s homework. The point is to make it hard for your child to use forgetfulness as an excuse to avoid homework.
Create a “homework spot.”
Designate a spot in the house where your child can work comfortably and in peace. Eliminate distractions as much as you can, particularly phones and the TV. Experiment a bit to see what kind of environment helps your child focus. Make sure the space is well lit, well ventilated and comfortable for your child.
Have “homework time.”
Your child may need a break before starting homework. Or your child may have after-school activities. But identify a time that works on most days for your child to focus on homework. Again, the idea is to create a routine that helps your child establish good homework habits.
Allow for breaks.
Schedule short breaks. For a child with ADHD, a five-minute break every 20 minutes can help him or her get to the end of the task.
Remember that ADHD simply makes it hard for a child to stay focused. It is not an indication of a child’s intelligence or capacity for academics or success in life. Try these strategies and be sure to give them enough time to take hold. In time, you’ll be able to celebrate the end of late-night homework struggles.