Homework is difficult for most children and it’s even harder for children with ADHD. But there are ways to handle homework problems and keep the frustrations and hassles to a minimum. It’s all about planning ahead and being organized. If you start out early and set the ground rules, your child doesn’t need to endure the usual homework frustrations and problems.
How to Help Your ADHD Child with Homework
The first step is to find out as much as you can in advance. Meet with those who will be teaching your child and determine what their expectations are. If possible, they should inform you what the home work assignments will be in advance and for as far in advance as practical. Let them know that they should inform you if homework is not submitted on time and you should check with them on a regular basis, to see how your child is doing.
You should also try to acquire a second set of textbooks so that there will be no delay in homework if your child forgets to bring a book home. Children with ADHD and other disorders are granted modifications that match schoolwork with their abilities, such as answering every other question or doing every other math problem in a homework assignment. You should find out what modifications your child is entitled to. This can avoid a great deal of anxiety and disappointment at homework time.
You should also try to establish a quiet hour or two at home when it’s time to do homework. Turn off the television and, if possible, turn off the phone as well. Do everything possible to provide a distraction free environment. Always be available to help your child during this time.
Not only is it good to have a quiet place to do homework, it’s also important to have a regular schedule that your child can get accustomed to. It’s also good to provide older children with a special place to do homework where they can keep the references, writing instruments and paper that they need. It should be their “office’ and left as undisturbed as possible. This gives them a sense of control and a motivation to sit down and do the work.
You can avoid a lot of problems simply by helping your child organize his or her time. Break homework down into sections with time allotted for each section and breaks in-between. Breaks should be determined by your child’s age. A first grader with ADHD might only be able to work for ten or fifteen minutes at a time, while a high-schooler should be able to go for at least an hour without a break. There should also be a reward at the end of work, something that your child enjoys.
And make sure that your child turns in their homework as required. You might need a folder with the different assignments that need to be turned in that day. That way, if your child forgets, he or she can check the folder at the end of the day for any homework they may have forgotten to turn in.
And above all, be firm but loving, it’s the best way to help your ADHD child cope with the homework horrors.
This article was written by:
Dr. Tali Shenfield is a Child Psychologist and a Clinical Director of Richmond Hill Psychology Center. She is a member of the Canadian Psychological Association and Ontario College of Psychologists. When not busy with psychological assessments and psychotherapy, she is writing on topics related to parenting and psychology. You can read her blog here.
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