Homework completion for children with ADHD can be an overwhelming task, both for the child and the parent. Individuals with ADHD have a more difficult time with sustained concentration, especially if the activity is non-preferred, motivation toward a task that is non-preferred, and with various aspects of time management. Typically, all of these cognitive abilities are required for timely homework completion.
Because of the above mentioned factors, homework time can often turn into a power struggle, a meltdown, a shutdown, or just a wholly unpleasant situation for the family. However, the expectations for homework are typically not diminished and the desire to maintain a child’s academic skill level is also not diminished.
Therefore, consider the following tips and strategies for homework improvement:
- Set an expected time of day for homework. Within this, consider what time will work best in regard to a child’s ability to concentrate and manage emotions and behavior for homework. This is important in order to maintain an expectation and routine of when homework will occur. When parents allow for various negotiations, expectation can be altered which can increase the power struggle to procrastinate.
- Allow for a healthy snack and drink as to “re-fuel” the brain.
- Time manage homework over the week. Consider what evenings may be very busy with other activities and manage larger amounts of homework or tasks outside of those evenings. Utilize the weekend for tasks that require longer amounts of concentration and effort.
- Break homework assignments down into doable tasks (those that are not overwhelming) for the child and spread this out over a few days (or more) if possible. You can also break an assignment down into more doable parts so it does not appear overwhelming.
- Allow for privileges (i.e. screen time; preferred play) once homework tasks are completed. This allows for a natural reinforcement once needed tasks are completed.
- Be honest if a child requires assistance to complete homework. Many children with ADHD are not fully independent workers and require some level of supervision to remain on task. Consider options for allowing this to happen either in the home, with other adults or tutoring support, or with some type of program or homework support from school. In my experience, those children who struggle the most with homework completion, typically require an invested adult to be consistently present and involved with the homework process.