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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects over 2 million children in the United States alone. These children may face their biggest challenges during the school day, but the after-school hours can also be fraught with frustration. By the time these children arrive home from school they are physically exhausted, mentally tired of focusing, and often overwhelmed with the auditory and visual stimulation of the day.
Because many parents consider the evening hours time to let their child relax, the prospect of homework, especially for children with ADHD, can be daunting. But it doesn't have to be. With a well-developed plan of action and a dependable routine, parents can help their ADHD child focus outside of school, so that they can succeed in school. Here are ten homework tips to take the stress out of homework for the ADHD child:
Communicate. As you establish a homework strategy, take time to communicate with your child, other family members, and your child’s teacher. With a clear picture of the expectations of school, the schedule at home, and your child's study strengths, you can develop a successful homework plan.
Have a plan. Consider homework constants. If spelling tests are always on Fridays, you may want to plan a small amount of spelling practice nightly with an at-home practice test the night before the real thing. Reviewing a little each night builds a child's confidence and ability to retain the information, as well as minimizing last minute cramming and test anxiety.
Designate a work space. Choose a quiet place to work away from distractions. It is important for the area to be inviting, but not so comfortable that the child will be tempted to play or sleep.
Have the right tools. Textbooks, assignment information, paper, pens or pencils and erasers, calculator, highlighters, index cards, and sticky notes are crucial. If possible, keep the homework tools together in the work space, so that rounding them up isn't a distraction.
Develop a routine. Most kids need a break after school, and the ADHD child especially needs a “cool-down” period to relax and regroup. Consider starting homework after a break and snack, and plan with your child to decide what homework will be tackled before dinner, and what work will be completed after.
Check and recheck. Students with ADHD may struggle to stay organized and remember assignments and materials. Make a habit of checking that his work made it into his backpack, as well as making sure assignments are brought home and completed.
Practice. Because students with ADHD have trouble concentrating on one thing for long, try to avoid long study sessions on a single subject. A little practice over a long period of of time will get results, and it's a better overall strategy for retaining information in the long-term.
Take a break. Even walking to another room to put something away can boost concentration and motivation to complete the homework task, and children with ADHD especially need time to mix physical activity with mental exertion.
Evaluate. Periodically rethink the homework plan. What is consistently working? Which things are not productive? Does the plan need to change with the child's, or family’s, needs?
Celebrate success. Children with ADHD can quickly become frustrated by the demands of homework. Let your child know that you're proud of the extra effort he puts into his work, and take time to celebrate his achievements in school.