Homework Help for a Child with ADHD

I have an eight-year-old who was diagnosed with ADHD and put on ritalin last year. We have worked with the school but she still has trouble doing homework and getting her classwork done. What can we do to help her?

Question:

Parents of ADHD children definitely face a challenge when it comes to homework, but I think that all parents may benefit from some of the following suggestions.

Organization

Help your daughter organize her materials for school. Set up a notebook or folder for her to use to transport papers between school and home. The two pocket folders are simple to use. Label one side "homework" and the other side "notes and corrected work." She can put all of her homework assignments together in one pocket and keep her corrected assignments and school correspondence on the other side. Work with the teacher to develop a homework sheet that your daughter can refer to at home. She can check off her assignments as she completes them, which will give her a sense of accomplishment, too. Her teacher can work with your daughter on organizing her desk at school, if she hasn't already.

Modification

Homework and classwork can be modified to accommodate special needs. If the work is simply too overwhelming for your daughter, ask her teacher if modification is in order. While your daughter may have the skills necessary to complete a given task, she may not have the patience or ability to stay focused on a task for the length of time that it takes to complete an assignment. Reducing the number of math problems, for example, will allow her to show her knowledge without overwhelming her. You can also modify the way in which she does her homework. For example, you can break the assignments up so that she doesn't have to sit still for longer than 10 minutes. She can do her spelling assignment, take a snack break, then move on to reading. The use of a timer may also help. Show her how to set the timer for five minutes and tell her that when the timer goes off, she can take a break from her homework. Set the timer for two to three minutes for the break, and tell her that when the timer goes off again it is time for her to return to her work.

Accountability

Set up a reward system for your daughter. A sticker chart showing her accomplishments (one sticker for each day that she does her homework, for example) can give her a visual idea of how close or far she is from meeting a given goal. Together you can come up with some short and long term goals, as well as rewards for reaching them. Along with those rewards, it may also be appropriate to develop some consequences for not reaching a goal within a given time frame. You know your child; use that knowledge to create a fair system for her. She needs to learn to be responsible and accountable for her actions, but only as it is developmentally appropriate for her.

I hope that you have found some feasible suggestions here. You may want to try one of the ideas today. If it doesn't work, change it slightly and try it again. There is no perfect solution for your situation. Trial and error is the best way to approach it. Once you find something that works with your daughter, use it consistently. Continue to communicate regularly with the teacher and your daughter's physician, too. The amount of medication she requires may change as she grows. Good luck to you and your daughter.

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