Homework Issues for Children With ADHD

Homework tends to be a challenging issue for kids with AD/HD and frustrating for the parents! Because these children often have problems with poor time management and the fact that they often don’t have a clue how much time is needed to complete homework, assignments are typically left undone or are handed in late with the result that the student receives a lower grade for the same amount of work. Children with AD/HD tend to have a difficult time planning ahead and goal setting and often ‘wait until the last minute.

Here are some tips for parents:

1. Have reasonable expectations for the younger child. 10 minutes of homework for each grade level is a general rule of thumb. If your child is spending more time than that, you may want to talk with your child’s teacher about adjusting the workload.

2. Find a location in your home where the homework will be done. This should be away from other distractions such as TV and away from other family noise. It should be uncluttered with all the needed supplies your child is most likely to need at the workspace. Establish a regular homework time.

The best time is either right before dinner or early in the evening (especially for the child on medication whose medication will ‘wear off’ by early to mid-evening). An AD/HD child may need a short break after doing homework that may be tedious. Make sure however, that the break is short (5-10 minutes max) and the child is doing something that he or she can easily break away from. Therefore, I do not recommend that the break be surfing the computer, emailing friends or playing video games.

3. Establish a routine homework schedule. You should sit down with your child and draw up a homework schedule. You can then review all of the assignments and make sure that the child understands what he or she is supposed to do and has all of the needed materials. Ask you child if he or she knows how long it will take to complete each assignment. I strongly recommend that each student carry a homework planner to keep track of assignments.

4. Have incentives for diligently doing homework such as a fun activity to do when the homework is done.

5. Encourage your child to cross off tasks as they are completed.

6. It is OK to help your child get started. Then have your child continue with a reasonable amount to accomplish independently. Look over the homework, checking for completion, careless errors and legibility. It is not important that you correct all of his or her errors or make your child turn in a perfect paper. If the homework seems to be too confusing or difficult for your child, let the teacher know.

7. If the homework is a continual source of frustration, battles and tears, seek the help of the school for appropriate modifications and adjustments to homework. Remember that you may need to advocate for your child.

8. It may be helpful to have two different folders (color-coded) in your child’s backpack. One for things to do and one for things needed to be turned in.

9. A real frustration for parents of AD/HD children is the child not knowing what the homework is and what assignments are due and when. This is particularly frustrating when the teacher does not keep the assignments up to date online or does not communicate with the parent. You may need to schedule an appointment to meet with the teacher yourself. Having a second set of books at home is not a bad idea if your child forgets to bring them home frequently.

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