Supporting Students With ADHD at Home

Handling Homework

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For many families of school-age children with ADHD, dealing with homework may be one of the most challenging parts of the day. This section presents a variety of tips that may help make "homework time" a little easier. Review the topics below to learn more.

Bringing It Home

Children with ADHD may have trouble remembering and/or completing homework because they may have difficulty paying attention to details, may be forgetful, may avoid tasks requiring sustained mental effort, or may often be unable to follow through on tasks.

To help with this, remind your child to review a checklist before leaving school for the day to make sure everything that is needed to do homework is brought home. If your child doesn't have this type of list, think about helping create one using tools you can use. If you think it will help, ask your child to confirm projects with a friend.

To help your child keep track of school supplies, consider color coding supplies by subject. Writing the child's name on handouts; on the covers of textbooks, binders, and notebooks; and on other school supplies may also help.

Establishing a Routine

Because children with ADHD may avoid tasks requiring sustained mental effort, it is important to establish a routine for doing homework and stick to it. Work together with your child to set a regular time and place for homework. Make sure that you account for your child's other chores and the times of day when he or she is most focused.

Depending on what works best for your child:

  • Consider allowing your child to have 20 minutes of recreational time after school before beginning his or her homework to provide a "brain break."
  • Have your child do homework before other fun activities to give your child a reason to complete it.
  • If needed, break up study time with dinner, a snack, or exercise breaks.

Creating Quiet Space

Children with ADHD may be easily distracted. Therefore, it is important to find a quiet work area for your child. If it helps your child focus, play soft music or white noise in the background.

In general, think about limiting TV, video games, and computer time. Also, consider making time for family reading.

Getting Started

Children with ADHD may often be unable to follow through on tasks. Show your child what you want him or her to do by walking through the steps yourself. Work on the first few items together and/or provide feedback.

The following tips may also help:

Make directions as simple and clear as possible

  • Write down oral directions as needed.
  • List directions step by step. Provide pictures if you can.
  • Work with your child to highlight:
    • Key words in directions
    • Words that need to be defined before starting a task
    • Symbols (+, -, x, ÷) in math problems

Ask your child to repeat directions

  • Make sure your child understands directions by asking the child to say them out loud before starting a task.

Break assignments into smaller tasks

  • Ask your child to complete only a small portion of homework at a time.
  • Block part of a page or fold it in such a way that only a part is shown at one time.

Working on Projects

Ask your child's teacher(s) to let you know ahead of time about any projects your child will need to complete.

Children with ADHD may have trouble with organization and may often be unable to follow through on tasks. When your child has a project to work on, it may help to create a list of steps that need to be completed. You may wish to use this Project Planner tool.

  • Plan the project out from the due date, as well as the time needed for each step to meet that due date.
  • If there is time in the schedule to do so, allow time for unexpected delays.

It also may help to ask your child's teacher to review progress on a project. Do not assume that your child is working on the project in school, even if the teacher gives extra class time to do so.