Home work. Those two words seem mismatched.
Home is where you can chill, be yourself, and get a little break from “work.”
Coming home from their 30-hour a week "job," many children crave down time. They want a break from "work" – from being "on" or putting effort into paying attention for six hours!
So who can blame kids for not wanting to do their homework?
As parents, we understand that homework reinforces lessons learned from the school day. Revisiting material and practicing skills is fruitful. However, if you have a child (or more), you probably have stories that prove otherwise. Especially with screens as part of the equation.
Attention-challenged children struggle because of problems unrelated to the specific homework assignment:
- Distracted by the internet
- Disenchanted with the topic
- Disengaged during the lesson at school
- Dismayed by how long it takes to answer a single question
- Discombobulated from trying to categorize what is most important
Homework also assumes that all children have stay-at-home moms who are “on call” to help – which is not exactly true in this day and age!
Since our smart but scattered children aren't naturally supplied with minds that can keep track of due dates and directions, here are some homework strategies to ease the challenges ADHD kids face. But remember – the most important thing you can do to help your child, by far, is to notice what she or he does well, and encourage it.
Here are 5 homework strategies for ADHD kids to get you started:
- Allow children to help establish their homework routine.
- Right after school or later?
- Broken into time segments?
- With or without music?
- At a desk or the kitchen counter?
- Allow them to change it up from day to day
Around 5th grade, a major goal can be independence with homework. From start to finish, the parent should assist – not nag to completion. You can gradually help your child less and less, and still expect high quality work.
- 5th grade is a time to expect independence (from a brain development perspective).
- Note: this may be delayed for many kids with Executive Function challenges
- From start to finish, the parent should assist – not nag to completion.
- Gradually help less and less, and still expect high quality work.
- Goal: Only help when your child asks for it.
- Remember that it's their work – not yours.
- Digital post-it notes for work for some students – they see them on their desktop when they arrive at the screen.
- Reward for independently using processes and organization strategies, sticking to a time schedule, and being focused on online resources (rather than Youtube, etc.).
- Calendars or bulleted lists help enormously. Student planners and online calendars tend to be "out of sight and out of mind."
- Large white boards are great, ideally one for each child.
- Designate a special place on the wall for it. Use it to make charts that track homework topics or nightly reading.
- Use abbreviations and humor to simplify and keep your child's attention.
- Boxes on the chart can also list homework assignments.
- Have your child write estimates for how long they should take to finish.
- It's beneficial to an ADD mind to track time elapsing. After the work is done, write down how long it actually took to track time management.
- A desk. The kitchen table. The treehouse. Which is best for learning and focus? Some children may need to do homework in the same place each night. Some need novelty. While they all learn and respond to different stimuli, they need consistency with the basics:
- Comfortable, flat surface
- Well-lit from above
- Not too far from the printer, if a middle or high schooler
- Quiet (except possible headphones)
- Free from distraction
- No clutter
- Stocked with needed materials
- Fidgets that help focus (not distract)
Paperwork – Breathe, and Scan Everything!
- Keeping track of the endless reading logs, rubrics, drafts, and study sheets seems impossible!
- Maintaining their original condition is even more difficult. This is where technology is your friend.
- Teachers who post documents on their websites are saviors. Scan any blank reading logs or assignments to keep on record at home.
- It also helps to color code folders and notebooks for some children.