Homework Tips for Parents of ADHDers©
If your child often forgets homework assignments, has trouble getting started on the work, forgets to turn in completed work, and is disorganized, he or she will need more support to ensure work completion. In other words, “developmentally age appropriate supervision.” Remember ADHDer’s brains mature at a different rate than their classmates. Here are some helpful hints you can use at home.
Remembering homework assignments: Forgetfulness is a characteristic of ADHD.
Help students develop a unique system for remembering homework assignments that works for them. ADHDers benefit from visual or auditory reminders “at the point of performance”. In other words, they need to “see or hear” the reminder, near the end of the day when they make the decision of what books to bring home. Helpful strategies include:
1. Use an assignment notebook, a note card kept in a pocket, palm pilot or folded incomplete work that is put in a book to take home.
2. Ask a friend to meet the student at the locker as a reminder.
3. Ask the student to wear a watch with a reminder system.
4. Check the school website for assignments.
5. Get a phone number for a classmate to confirm assignments.
6. Get extra text books for home.
Setting up the homework session: Involve the student in decisions.
1. Jointly set a starting time: give two choices, for example 7:00 or 7:15.
2. Jointly select a reminder procedure: a notice in the kitchen (like on the refrigerator), automatic phone reminder, computer calendar reminder.
3. Jointly select a good working location – clear the desk top or kitchen table.
4. Keep needed school supplies like paper and pencils nearby.
5. For “unexpected” long-term projects that are due the next day, keep extra poster board, markers, and report covers on hand.
During the homework session: Executive function deficits may cause difficulties 1) getting started and maintaining attention, 2)with slower processing (slower reading and writing – homework takes longer), 3)finishing work.
1. If necessary, sit with students until they get started. Then check back in on them periodically to make certain they are still working.
2. Limit homework sessions to 30 minutes at a time, then give a break to reenergize their brains (age appropriate).
3. For students who seem overwhelmed and cannot get started, fold the worksheet in half or have them complete 10 of the 30 problems. They can bring their work to you when they finish the, “ten problems.”
4. Take short physical breaks (activity improves attention by increasing blood flow to the brain).
5. During the break, drink some water and eat a snack (for example, raisins provide fuel for the brain).
Returning homework to school: Visual or auditory reminders should be given to the students.
1. Put finished work in a specific place, perhaps in a colored folder.
2. After homework is finished, put everything back into the folder or backpack.
3. Put the backpack near the door that exits to the car.
Improving attention during homework:
1. Most ADHD medication wears off for students in the late afternoon.
2. If your child is struggling to pay attention during homework time, talk with your doctor.
3. Some physicians prescribe small doses of medication in the late afternoon to last until homework is completed.
Supervision of homework session: Delayed maturity means more supervision is required.
1. Parents should decide who is better suited to work with the student. Being patient and positive is important.
2. If the parent also has ADHD and has trouble being organized or patient, the other parent should probably take on this role.
3. Parents may ask a tutor, homework coach or an older student in the neighborhood to help.
After the homework session:
1. Keep copies of all completed homework assignments, including written and computer work.
2. Do not throw away assignments away until the end of the grading period and you have confirmed with the teacher that all assignments have been submitted.
3. If the student is in danger of failing, check with the teacher near the end of the grading period and ask if any assignments are missing. Submit missing work.
Organization: Disorganization is a characteristic of ADHD.
1. Once a week go through the notebook and backpack with your student and help him or her organize papers.
2. Pull out and keep completed assignments in a folder.
3. Look for notes from the teacher or assignments that are incomplete.
Communication with the teacher:
1. Maintain regular communication with the teachers if the student is struggling.
2. If your child is not completing assignments, ask the teacher to call or email or write in student’s agenda an update on any overdue assignments at the end of the week.
©Chris a. Zeigler Dendy, 2009