6 Ways a Child With ADHD Can Study Better

No kid likes homework. But for a child with ADHD, homework time can be extra hard. 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 routine can help your son or daughter stay focused and on track.

1. Set up a homework station.

Choose one spot where your child can do his homework every day. Make sure it's away from distractions like 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 his mind on the work.

Try to give siblings their own space, though this may be hard if you have to monitor more than one. Remember that different kids may have different needs.

2. Break up study time.

Does your child start strong, then sputter out? Split up assignments so she doesn’t have to do it all at once.

Instead of a solid hour, have her tackle 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. She'll struggle less, and her work may improve.

3. Stay on schedule.

Kids with ADHD have trouble managing time. They also get off track easily. A schedule can help with both problems.

Ask your child to break down his homework into mini-assignments that take only a few minutes each. Then use an egg timer or alarm app to keep him on task for each section. Not only will it help him, but you won't have to nag as much.

Like the daily assignments, break down big, long-term projects (like a diorama or a book report) into simple steps. Set up a schedule with a due date for each step. These small deadlines will help him get the project done on time.

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4. Plan studying around medication.

A child who takes ADHD medication may study better earlier in the afternoon, when the drugs are still in effect. She may have a hard time later in the evening, after they wear off.

5. Motivate with rewards.

They're not bribes. It's OK to reward your child when she does a good job. A little encouragement can go a long way.

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 to watch TV or play a video game.

 

6. Make sure homework is handed in.

Your child might spend hours on his homework, then lose it or forget to hand it in. An organized binder or folder system, with pockets for new assignments and finished 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 instructions. Create a backup plan. Talk to your child's teacher -- weekly or even daily -- about upcoming assignments.

Some teachers post homework on the Internet. Others may email copies of assignments directly to you. Ask the teacher to let you know about any late or missing homework.

 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on November 13, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Stephen Brock, PhD, NCSP, school psychologist; school psychology program coordinator, California State University, Sacramento; president-elect, National Association of School Psychologists; author, Identifying, Assessing, and Treating ADHD at School, Springer, 2009.

Jeremy Didier, group coordinator, ADHDKC, Overland Park, Kan.; mother, 9-year-old son with ADHD.

Richard Lougy, LMFT, school psychologist, Sacramento, Calif.; co-author, The School Counselor's Guide to ADHD: What to Know and Do to Help Your Students , Corwin, 2009.

Kristine J. Melloy, PhD, past president, Council for Children with Behavior Disorders; instructional coach, St. Paul Public Schools, St. Paul, Minn.

Lora Mills, ADHD life coach; CHADD coordinator; retired middle school teacher, Fla.; mother, two adult children with ADHD.

National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality: "Homework Tips for Parents."

Richard Root, EdD, Twin State Psychological Services, Vt. and N.H.

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