Reduce Homework Hassles with these Simple Tips

                   by Dr. Robert Myers, Child  Psychologist


Homework can be difficult  for most kids during the school year, but it can  become a major challenge when you  have a child with ADHD. But here’s some good  news for exhausted parents: if you  take the right steps now, at the beginning  of the school year, homework hassles  can be kept to a minimum. The key is to be  organized and plan ahead to minimize  the frustration your child is bound to  experience around multiple homework  assignments. Begin by tackling the two most  important places: school and home.

At the beginning of the school  year, meet with your child’s teacher (or  teachers) to find out what the  expectations are regarding homework. Try to work  out a system where they can  let you know in advance what homework   will be assigned either on a week-to-week basis or for the whole semester. Many   teachers are even willing to keep you informed by e-mail. You should check with   your child’s teachers periodically to make sure that things are going well. And   definitely remember to ask them to inform you whether assignments are being  turned  in on time.

Related:  Having nightly fights with your child over homework? How to manage your AD/HD  child’s behavior.

Another big problem for  kids with ADHD is that they often forget to bring  their books home. You may be  able to work out with the school, particularly if  your child has a 504 plan, to  get an extra set of books. This way, your child  will have a set of books at school and a set of books at home.

Children with attention  disorders, particularly  those with a 504 plan, are entitled to accommodations  to make school  demands appropriate to their abilities. So for example, in math or  other  subjects with long lists of questions or problems, the accommodation  states  that the school must allow the child to do every other question or  problem, rather than the entire list that’s been assigned.  Talk to your child’s  teachers about your child’s abilities and the accommodations  that can be made.  It can make the difference between enduring endless hours of  frustration at  homework time and having your child succeed.

Moving now to the home front,  it’s important, if possible, to have a quiet  time in the home where there’s no  TV and no other media to distract your child.  You might even stop phone calls  during homework time. And if you have a project  that you’ve brought home from  work, consider doing it while your child is doing  his schoolwork. (But be  available for help if necessary.) This helps younger  children with ADHD to  understand that homework is a normal part of life—just  another responsibility  that needs to be met, and it also sets the right mood  for focusing and  concentration.

Related:  Help your AD/HD child learn effective concentration tools.

It’s best to have a scheduled  time for homework and a quiet place to do it.  For older kids, it may even be a  good idea to set up their own “office”. This  could be a space in their room,  the living room or kitchen where they do their  homework on a regular basis. You  might even put up a bulletin board with all  their long-term assignments and due  dates. What this provides is a way to make  it easy to have all the materials  they need and to keep them on task.

If you know what your  child’s assignments are, you should review them  together. Make sure that they  understand what they need to do. In particular,  be certain they understand the  directions completely. If they have homework for  several different subjects, you  can eliminate much of the hassle simply by  helping them to organize their time.

It may be a good idea to  break homework into sections. You can set aside  time for each specific subject,  with some relaxation breaks in between. High  school age kids with ADHD certainly  can do an hour of homework at a time  without a break, while first graders may only  be able to go for 10 to 15  minutes without a break. You need to determine what  you feel is a reasonable  amount of study time for your child, and then help him  or her to manage their  time appropriately. When they complete their homework  successfully, use fun  activities such as on TV or video games (or whatever your  child enjoys) as a  reward.

Related:  Dealing with defiance and disrespect? How to take back parental  authority.

Finally, a big problem for  kids with ADHD is that even when they get the  homework completed, they forget  to turn it in to the teacher. It’s wise to have  a notebook with a clipboard or  a separate folder for homework for your child.  Remind him or her to check the clipboard  or folder at school for each class to  be sure that they turned in all the work.  Then, before they leave school, they  should check it once again. If they find  any assignments that were not turned  in they should take it to the teacher or  the office and hand it in before they  leave the campus. Most teachers will accept  an assignment later in the day from  a child they know to be attempting to cope  with ADHD.


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