Homework can be challenging for parents and kids when ADHD is in the picture. In order to prevent hassles, the first place to start is at your child’s school.
Try to meet with your child’s teachers and learn what the homework expectations will be for the coming school year. (If the homework assignments seem to be excessive, remember that under 504 plans or an IEP, it is possible for the amount of homework to be modified to accommodate the abilities of the child with ADHD.) At this time, it’s also a good idea to set up regular quarterly meetings or determine a system for communication between parent and teacher to make sure that everybody’s on the same page.
The next step is to set the stage at home. Just prior to the start of school, it’s probably a good idea to have a time to talk about upcoming changes that the start of school will bring. Homework can be presented in the context of “It’s part of the work of a child to do some work at home, just like it is for adults.” If you or your spouse bring work home from time to time, use that as an example.
Kids with ADHD often have trouble separating tasks and following through on them. To help them focus, try presenting this concept to your child: Tell them that every person’s time is divided into at least three different ways. For everyone, there is a time for play, a time for work, and a time for rest. It’s important to get the most out of each activity, and one way to do this is by keeping them separate. You could say, “After all, you wouldn’t want to bring homework to a party, so the same is true about doing schoolwork at home—we don’t bring the TV or video games on to homework time”.
In order to keep homework separate from other activities, there are at least two steps that you can take. The first is to establish a specific time or times for homework. These times should be agreed upon in advance and put in writing. The second is to establish a place for homework to be done. This area should be as free from distraction as possible and should have adequate workspace and all the necessary supplies readily available.
Taking these basic steps can set the stage for a school year without major hassles regarding homework. My next post will be on additional basic tips on helping kids cope successfully with homework.
About Dr. Robert Myers, PhD
Dr Robert Myers is a child psychologist with more than 25 years of experience working with children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and learning disabilities and is the creator of the Total Focus Program®. Dr Myers is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UC Irvine School of Medicine. "Dr Bob" has provided practical information for parents as a radio talk show host and as editor of Child Development Institute's website, 4parenting.com, which reaches 3 million parents each year. Dr. Myers earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.