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ADHD in Children Health Center

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6 Ways a Child With ADHD Can Study Better

No kid likes homework. But for a child with ADHD, homework time can be miserable. Assignments that might take other kids an hour can take yours 2 or 3 -- or more.

Homework doesn't have to ruin your kid's day. And it doesn't have to turn you into a stressed out, nagging parent. A structured homework routine can help them stay focused and on track.

1. Set up a homework station.

Choose one spot where your child can do their homework every day. Make sure it's away from distractions, including noisy siblings and the TV. (The kitchen table works well for some kids, since you can easily check in on them.) The seat should face a wall, not a window. White noise, from an MP3 player or a fan, can help drown out sounds to keep their attention on their work.

2. Break up study time.

Does your child start strong, then sputter out? Try splitting up homework rather than making them do it all at once. For example, instead of a solid hour, have three 20-minute sessions with playtime or a snack in between. Or switch subjects: math for 20 minutes, then English for another 20, then back to math. They'll spend less time struggling, and their work may be better.

3. Stay on schedule.

Kids with ADHD have trouble managing time. They're also easily distracted. A schedule can help with both problems.

Ask your child to break down their homework into mini-assignments that take only a few minutes each. Then use an egg timer or alarm app to keep them on task for each section.

Not only will it help your child, but you won't have to nag as much. The timer is what's keeping them on task -- not you.

Like the daily assignments, break down big, long-term projects (such as a diorama or a book report) into simple steps with your child. Then set up a schedule with a due date for each step. Check that they're meeting these deadlines to get the project done on time.

4. Plan studying around their medication.

A child who takes ADHD medication may do a lot better earlier in the afternoon, when the medication is still effective. Doing homework later in the evening, when the medication has worn off, can be a lot harder.

5. Motivate with rewards.

They're not bribes. It's OK to reward your child for doing a good job. A little encouragement can help a lot with homework, too.

Some parents set up a currency -- poker chips, for example -- in return for getting homework done. Your kid can turn the chips in later for rewards they like, such as time watching TV or playing a video game.

6. Make sure homework is handed in.

Your child might spend hours on their homework, but then lose it or forget to hand it in. An organized binder or folder system, with pockets for incoming assignments and outgoing homework, can help get the papers across the finish line.

Keep on top of assignments.

This last one is a bonus for you. It's not uncommon for a kid with ADHD to miss a due date or misunderstand homework instructions. So have a backup plan. Keep in touch with your child's teacher -- weekly or even daily -- about upcoming assignments.

Some teachers post homework on the Internet. Or find out if you can have copies of assignments sent to you directly. Also ask the teacher to let you know about any late or missing homework.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Patricia Quinn, MD on July 24, 2013

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