Here are some great strategies to use for your child with ADHD for homework with the upcoming school year. Read on and see what works for you and your child!
The end of the summer is near. That means—ugh!—homework season is lurking right around the corner. As your child with ADHD is progressing to the next grade, the amount and complexity of homework will increase, so you need a plan to keep homework from becoming an exhausting battle for you and your family.
Consistency is key
When your child comes home from school, set the clock. Give him a 30-minute break to sit down an have a snack and decompress from the school day. Then, it’s time to start homework. Follow this schedule consistently from day to day, with as little variation as possible.
Location, location, location
Depending on your child’s age, you may want to set him up at the kitchen table, the dining room table, or a desk in a quieter corner of the house. Avoid setting up a desk in the bedroom; you want to separate out work from play and rest. The younger your child, the closer you want him to you while he’s trying to focus on schoolwork. The kitchen or dining room table gives your child the opportunity to work comfortably and in your presence, which also may increase his ability to concentrate.
If you have a pre-teen or teen on your hands, you’ve probably noticed that, left to his own devices (no pun intended!), he turns on the music and TV while doing homework. Be proactive and select quiet, soothing music before he does. Choose something relaxing—something without words that will act as constant but soothing background noise. When the work is over, he can take over as DJ and rock the house.
Set a timer
Begin by asking your child to take out his notes and review his homework assignments for the night. Ask him to estimate how long each homework assignment will take. Write the assignments on a whiteboard in order of longest to shortest time required. Then set the timer and get started. When the timer rings, cross off any completed assignments, take a break, and move to the next item on the list. The goal is to finish as quickly as possible so that your child can have time at the end of the night to relax and wind down.Color-coded subjectsMost likely, your child is a visual spatial learner, which means he thinks in pictures, not words, and sees the bigger concept or idea, not the details. In order to encourage organization, assign a color to each subject with corresponding notebooks and folders. When your child is looking for his Science folder, he looks for “green,” not the word “SCIENCE.” This will help him look for his Science materials at home, in his backpack, in his locker, or in his desk.
Create a calendar
Now that you have assigned colors to your child’s subjects, help him create a master schedule for the month, with all homework assignments and projects properly color-coded. One quick glance at the schedule tells him which assignments are coming up based on the date and color.
Pour on the praise
As your child completes homework more consistently and with less resistance, he will feel more confident and proud. His self-esteem will increase and he’ll have a better chance of conquering homework successfully again the next day. Provide praise and/or privileges for completed homework, and make sure you emphasize how this is a result of his efforts.
Dr. Liz Matheis is a licensed clinical psychologist and school psychologist in Parsippany who provides psychotherapy, assessment, consulting, and advocacy for children and families managing ADHD, learning disabilities, and Autism Spectrum Disorders.