Teaching Children with ADHD (page 4)

By — U.S. Department of Education
Updated on Feb 18, 2011

Organizational and Study Skills Useful for Academic Instruction of Children With ADHD

Many students with ADHD are easily distracted and have difficulty focusing their attention on assigned tasks. However, the following practices can help children with ADHD improve their organization of homework and other daily assignments:

  • Designate one teacher as the student's advisor or coordinator. This teacher will regularly review the student's progress through progress reports submitted by other teachers and will act as the liaison between home and school. Permit the student to meet with this advisor on a regular basis (e.g., Monday morning) to plan and organize for the week and to review progress and problems from the past week.
  • Assignment notebooks. Provide the child with an assignment notebook to help organize homework and other seatwork.
  • Color-coded folders. Provide the child with color-coded folders to help organize assignments for different academic subjects (e.g., reading, mathematics, social science, and science).
  • Work with a homework partner. Assign the child a partner to help record homework and other seatwork in the assignment notebook and file work sheets and other papers in the proper folders.
  • Clean out desks and book bags. Ask the child to periodically sort through and clean out his or her desk, book bag, and other special places where written assignments are stored.
  • Visual aids as reminders of subject material. Use banners, charts, lists, pie graphs, and diagrams situated throughout the classroom to remind students of the subject material being learned.
Assisting Students With ADHD With Time Management

Children with ADHD often have difficulty finishing their assignments on time and can thus benefit from special materials and practices that help them to improve their time management skills, including:

  • Use a clock or wristwatch. Teach the child how to read and use a clock or wristwatch to manage time when completing assigned work.
  • Use a calendar. Teach the child how to read and use a calendar to schedule assignments.
  • Practice sequencing activities. Provide the child with supervised opportunities to break down a long assignment into a sequence of short, interrelated activities.
  • Create a daily activity schedule. Tape a schedule of planned daily activities to the child's desk.
Helpful Study Skills for Students With ADHD

Children with ADHD often have difficulty in learning how to study effectively on their own. The following strategies may assist ADHD students in developing the study skills necessary for academic success:

  • Adapt worksheets. Teach a child how to adapt instructional worksheets. For example, help a child fold his or her reading worksheet to reveal only one question at a time. The child can also use a blank piece of paper to cover the other questions on the page.
  • Venn diagrams. Teach a child how to use Venn diagrams to help illustrate and organize key concepts in reading, mathematics, or other academic subjects.
  • Note-taking skills. Teach a child with ADHD how to take notes when organizing key academic concepts that he or she has learned, perhaps with the use of a program such as Anita Archer's Skills for School Success (Archer & Gleason, 2002).
  • Checklist of frequent mistakes. Provide the child with a checklist of mistakes that he or she frequently makes in written assignments (e.g., punctuation or capitalization errors), mathematics (e.g., addition or subtraction errors), or other academic subjects. Teach the child how to use this list when proofreading his or her work at home and school.
  • Checklist of homework supplies. Provide the child with a checklist that identifies categories of items needed for homework assignments (e.g., books, pencils, and homework assignment sheets).
  • Uncluttered workspace. Teach a child with ADHD how to prepare an uncluttered workspace to complete assignments. For example, instruct the child to clear away unnecessary books or other materials before beginning his or her seatwork.
  • Monitor homework assignments. Keep track of how well your students with ADHD complete their assigned homework. Discuss and resolve with them and their parents any problems in completing these assignments. For example, evaluate the difficulty of the assignments and how long the children spend on their homework each night. Keep in mind that the quality, rather than the quantity, of homework assigned is the most important issue. While doing homework is an important part of developing study skills, it should be used to reinforce skills and to review material learned in class, rather than to present, in advance, large amounts of material that is new to the student.

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This report was produced under U.S. Department of Education Contract No. HS97017002 with the American Institutes for Research. Kelly Henderson served as technical representative for this project.


First printed: February 2004
Reprinted: September 2005, August 2006

This report is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs, Teaching Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Instructional Strategies and Practices. Washington, D.C., 2006.

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