Homework Help for Children with ADHD

English: Seymour, CT, September 24, 2008 -- Hi...

English: Seymour, CT, September 24, 2008 — High school student assists teacher instructing STEP lessons by passing out the homework assignment. Students will plan to meet with their family members to form a communication plan in case of an emergency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The symptoms of ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, can be very disruptive to your child’s life. This is particularly true when it comes to homework. Forgetfulness can lead to missed assignments. Difficulty concentrating and fidgeting may make it hard to complete the work. You may feel frustrated, and like there is nothing you can, do but there is hope. It will just take some patience, diligence and likely some experimentation to see what works best.

Structured Homework Schedule

Structure is a powerful tool for managing ADHD and research out of Monmouth University in New Jersey suggests that a structured homework strategy, consisting of a few simple steps, is effective in reducing homework issues. The children studied included boys with combined ADHD, which means they had both symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsiveness. Half were on medication, and to more accurately measure the effects of the structured homework technique, doses were not adjusted during the study and children not on medication did not start to take it; the group was split into a control and treatment group. With the help of teachers who taught the students, researchers had them provide information about homework issues before the start of the study and track progress throughout to evaluate the effects.

The strategy is actually very simple; the hardest part will probably be sticking to it and not caving in. The first step consisted of making sure students wrote down everything he needed to know about his homework assignments and making sure to show it to the teacher before he left school for the day to confirm they had all the necessary information. Students were then required to start homework within an hour of getting home and had to work in a quiet area; no watching TV, playing video games, etc…until they finished their work. If they left the journal at school or were unable to complete an assignment because they did not have all the necessary materials, they could not play video games, go on the computer or watch television for a whole day. Researchers found this led to a 50 percent reduction in homework problems. Since children with ADHD often have a hard time providing their own structure, providing it for them can be tremendously helpful.

Allow Your Child to Move Around

The fidgeting during homework time may be frustrating for you, but allowing it in a more structured way may actually help your child complete his assignments more successfully.  Studies suggest that allowing children with ADHD to move around a bit while doing schoolwork helps them process information more successfully. Research out of University of Central Florida found that physical movement helped children with this condition utilize working memory more effectively—the type of memory needed for processing information for short-term tasks, such as a homework assignment. Some ways to facilitate this include doing a quick exercise between arithmetic problems, such as jumping jacks, or giving your child some sort of object to fiddle with while completing assignments, such as a small ball.

Make Learning Interactive to Increase Concentration

Improving the ability to concentrate is another important factor in successfully completing homework. The material can often be less than thrilling and when you throw ADHD into the mix, it becomes even harder to get your child to complete assignment. Essentially, the problem is not poor concentration per se; it is getting your child to concentrate on schoolwork rather than something else. Finding ways to make assignments more ‘’action-packed’’ if you will may help. For example, if he needs to read something, give him different colored pens to underline important information; illustrate vocabulary words with a picture; use popcorn or some other items to work on math problems.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has written extensively about a variety of health conditions ranging from attention deficit disorder to rheumatoid arthritis. She particularly enjoys researching and writing pieces about how people can cope with their conditions and live a better life.