parenting

Helping ADD Kids With Homework

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It's safe to say that most moms have a difficult time getting their kids to do their homework. Telling your child that they've got to continue to work even though they've already been at school all day can be as difficult as pulling teeth. Of course, the degree of the challenge varies with each child. With Attention Deficit children, the challenge can be even greater, requiring very specific tactics and rewards. And even within the spectrum of deficits in that disorder, there can be a wide degree of applicability, meaning that a child with a very bad case of ADHD may respond quite differently than one who exhibits ADD symptoms only slightly. There is hope, and help, though.

Here's How To Do It: Helping ADD Kids With Homework

My 10-year-old son was diagnosed with ADD last year, because he consistently struggled with turning his homework in. He also underwent a battery of tests at his school, at the recommendation of his teacher, to determine whether or not he also had a learning disability, as his inability to finish assignments was that pronounced. The tests showed that he was, in fact, quite intelligent, so I turned to books and research to find a course of action for him, mindful that his self-esteem was taking a beating and wanting to help him find a way to enjoy school and do his homework with his ADD in mind.

I have gathered a bounty of tips from three important books on the subject: Smart But Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential, by Peg Dawson, EdD, and Richard Guare, PhD., Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Copying with ADD From Childhood Through Adulthood, by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D., and Parenting the Ephraim's Child by Deborah Talmadge and Jaime Theler. The last book is not a book on helping ADD or ADHD children per se, but on dealing with the challenges of raising a child who is "intensely MORE." These are the tips I have gathered for helping ADD children complete their homework and turn it in that are most corroborated between the three books, and that have made the most sense for my son.

Make a Distraction-free Environment

I had tried for years to get my son to do his homework at the kitchen table or in his room because that was more conducive to me being able to monitor him while I tended to my other son or made dinner, but ultimately this was self-defeating. He now has his own desk, an inexpensive thing, in our office, with nothing on its surface but a monitor and a

lamp, but stocked with all the supplies he could need to complete his assignments, and a consistent time of day which he knows belongs to homework, or "braintime," as we call it. Dawson and Guare state: "Creating a "quiet time" for homework can increase your child's ability to focus on work and complete it efficiently."

Make Lists, Schedules, or Checklists

to-do-list courtesy of flickr courtney dirks

Create something visual that spells out exactly what needs to be done and when. Whichever one you choose, do it consistently. With your child, go over at the beginning of the week or when a big assignment first comes home what exactly needs to be done and when it needs to be done by, and ask them how they think it should be broken down. It is

important to look closely at the instructions or description of the homework to break it down most accurately. We have a white-board calendar on which we write every assignment and when it's due, placed in our kitchen. Instead of telling your child repeatedly to do the homework, remind him or her to check the schedule. This transfers a little of the responsibility for completion from the parent to the child.

Break Each Task Down as Much as Possible...

...and either make each task short, or provide frequent breaks in longer tasks. According to Hallowell and Ratey, "by breaking tasks down, the teacher [or parent] can let the child prove to himself or herself [that he or she can do it]. This may seem intuitive for all students, but it is especially necessary for ADD/ADHD kids, as is the level to which tasks are broken down.

homework pic courtesy of flickr mrstg

Build In Choice

Removing the obstacle of boredom with a repetitive task can prove especially helpful in motivating an ADD child. Offering your child choices, in things that may not matter to you or to the ultimate outcome of a task, gives them a feeling of control, however slight. If the homework involves multiple pages, for example, let them choose which one to do first. Limit their choices to two or three options so they don't get overwhelmed with options.

These are just a few of the many, many tips I have armed myself with to help my son succeed. Ultimately, my goal is for homework to be a means for him to build his confidence, not an obstacle to overcome. There is comfort to be taken in the wealth of knowledge about attention-deficit disorders, and the many ways in which it can be applied.

Student picture courtesy of Flickr. To-do list courtesy of Flickr. Homework pictures courtesy of Flickr.

What tips can you share about helping your ADD child with homework?

me
A frequent contributor to Mom It Forward, Jamie Moesser holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration. Before becoming a full-time mom she spent 10 years writing grants and fundraising for non-profit organizations. She now enjoys blogging at HobbyMamas.com, volunteering at her sons’ school, reading, writing fiction, and scrapbooking. And as if that wasn’t enough, her other hobbies include waterskiing, r/c car racing, and dirt biking.
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