Homework. A dreaded term in many households. Unfortunately, the challenge of homework can be even greater in a household with a child who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
For children with ADHD, homework can seem overwhelming or boring. As School Psychologists, homework is an area that we receive a lot of questions and complaints about from parents.
Download our free eBook to learn more about learning disabilities like ADHD
Here are six of our favourite homework tips for kids with ADHD:
1) Same Time Same Place: Develop a Structured Routine
Structure is your friend. One of the most common symptoms of ADHD in children is an inability to regulate themselves. Children (and adults) with ADHD like routines because they don’t have to think about them or remember them. While life can often be chaotic and overwhelming to kids with ADHD, a structured environment consisting of daily routines helps to reduce anxiety, set expectations, determine predictability and create a sense of calm and security. Since homework can be particularly stressful, help your child create structure by developing a routine in which they do their homework at the same time and in the same place every day.
2) Turn the Screens Off!
Create a rule that during homework time, all screens and technologies in the house have to go off. This ensures that your child does not feel singled out. However, children with inattentive type of ADHD may benefit from listening to music as it activates them to a level that allows for sustained attention.
3) Frequent and Physically Active Study Breaks
Schedule homework into 15-20 minute chunks, with five minute breaks in-between. Make sure these breaks are physically active. For children with ADHD, physical activity is the key to burning off some of their extra energy. Some ideas might be doing 25 jumping jacks, running around the table or yard several times, or doing a dance. Just make sure these short breaks are no longer than five minutes as you don’t want your child getting distracted by the new activity.
4) Give an After School Mental Break
Children need a mental break after school and teaching them to rest is important. Even if your child cannot nap, it is good for them to slow down. However, you may find that they are too hyperactive after school. In this case, let them to burn off their energy by doing some physical activity.
5) Use Assistive Technology
Modern technology can assist your child with completing homework. There are plenty of apps and programs that facilitate learning. If your child cannot sit still while learning or has difficulty writing, try using a speech-to-text device while moving around the room to put their thoughts in writing. If your child cannot focus on reading, try using a text-to-speech program while keeping their hands busy with something else. If your child has difficulty with math, try using an electronic math worksheet software or a talking calculator.
6) Model Empathy
No one really likes to do homework, at least at first. Let your child know that you understand that homework is a necessary evil, but one that is necessary for success in school and often in life. If you can, let them know that you are also doing your homework during the same time. This may be a good time to have a brief discussion about how doing some things you don’t like to do so much is important for survival, and that you understand how difficult this is sometimes.
Written by Dr. Irina Valentin and Dr. Edward Blackstock
About the Authors
Dr. Irina Valentin and Dr. Edward Blackstock are Registered Clinical and School Psychologists. Dr. Blackstock was previously the Chief Psychologist for the Peel District School Board and Dr. Valentin worked for many different schools boards in Ontario as a School Psychologist. They now provide psychoeducational assessments, gifted testing and family counselling through their private practice, Valentin & Blackstock Psychology. Dr. Valentin is also registered as a Neuropsychologist and works with students who have sustained brain injury. Visit them in person at the Halton-Peel Private School Expo on October 20th, 2013.