Homework Difficulties in Children with ADHD
Ideas for improving performance
Lonnie A. Guthrie
There are many things to consider for the success of a student with ADHD. How they perform in the classroom is key. But how they perform on their homework is important too. Many of the things that are done for the student at school to help them succeed should be done at home too. Parents and teachers can help any child improve homework studies by:
- Tracking homework
- Creating structure for learning
- Implementing accommodations and interventions, such as shortened assignments
- Providing positive feedback
One of the most important things in handling the needs of an ADHD student is communication. In order to keep track of the student’s homework assignments, parents and teachers must work together. One way to track homework assignments given to a student is to:
- Keep a homework notebook or folder
- Create a parent/teacher checklist for each assignment
- Visit the teacher’s classroom website for assignments
The teacher can check each assignment before the child leaves school each day, both to assure that the child understands the assignments and that he or she has the necessary books and materials to complete the assignments. This will reinforce the teacher’s expectations of the child. Parents can use the same checklist to get organized for the evening’s homework and afterwards, to be sure assignments are completed and in the correct folder to return the next day. This will require active participation from the parent. The parents, teacher, and child will have a complete list of all completed assignments at the end of each week.
Structure helps students with ADHD keep focused. You can create a structured homework environment by:
- Having a study space ready for homework
- Keeping all homework materials in the study space
- Color-coding school materials by topics
For some children, minor background noise like a radio can actually help them maintain their focus and pay attention to their work. Some children have found success by using a homework calendar. Calendars allow them to see what assignments are due and when. Calendars help establish time limits for school projects. You can also list the topic and teacher on the calendar. It is also helpful to use a timer so the child can balance on-task time with nutritional snacks and breaks.
Providing Positive Feedback
Positive feedback from parents and teachers can go a long way with a student who has ADHD. But parents and teachers must make a concerted effort to do so. It is much easier to provide feedback for negative behaviors; catching them being good, or doing the right thing, and then providing positive feedback, is much more difficult. Many things can be rewarded. A parent can give their child praise for:
- Logging homework into their assignment book
- Remembering to bring home their homework
- Working on their homework for a set period of time
- Completing their homework
- Returning it to their teacher the next day
The parent’s praise is a great self-esteem builder. And the student finishing a task they set out to finish gives them a sense of accomplishment.
1. Blazer, B. (1999, November/December). Developing 504 classroom accommodation plans: A collaborative systematic parent-student-teacher approach. Teaching Exceptional Children, 32, 28-33.
2. Boyse, K. (2009). Your child: development & behavior resources: A guide to information & support for parents. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from the University of Michigan Health System Web site: http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/adhd.htm
3. National Institute of Mental Health. (2008). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Publication No. 96-3572). Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/index.shtml
4. Zentall, S.S., & Goldstein, S. (1999). Seven steps to homework success: A family guide for solving common homework problems. New York: Specialty Press.
5. Power, T., Karustis, J., & Habboushe, D. (2001). Homework success for children with ADHD: A family-school intervention program. New York: Guilford.
6. Romain, T. (2004). [DVD] How to do homework without throwing up. Los Angeles, CA: Porchlight Entertainment.
7. Schumm, J.S. (2005). How to help your child with homework. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
8. Davis, L., Sirotowitz, S., & Parker, H. (2003). Study skills for early school success, grades 3-6. Plantation, FL: Specialty Press, Inc.