Aug. 16, 2010 -- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and homework problems often go together. Now, a simple and structured approach to doing homework appears to cut homework problems by more than half, according to a new study.
''The drop in the problems related to homework were very dramatic," says researcher George Kapalka, PhD, associate professor and interim chair of the department of psychological counseling at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.
He presented his findings this week at the American Psychological Association annual meeting in San Diego.
Typically, children with ADHD have problems with self-control -- simply not wanting to do the homework -- or with forgetfulness -- forgetting to write down assignments and to take home everything they need to complete it, Kapalka tells WebMD.
His approach addresses both issues, he says.
ADHD and Homework: The Approach
Kapalka evaluated 39 children, ages 6 to 10, and enrolled the help of their 39 teachers. Teachers taught a mainstream or inclusion class that included at least one student with ADHD.
All students in the study had problems with homework.
All students in the study were boys, and all had "combined type" ADHD. The most common type, it includes symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsiveness.
More than half the students were on medications to treat their ADHD, Kapalka tells WebMD. If they weren't on medications at the start of the study, they didn't start them during the study. If they were on medications, they didn't change the dose during the study, so that the effect of the program could be evaluated more effectively.
The students were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a comparison group with no intervention.
Those in the treatment group:
- Showed their teacher their homework journal, in which everything was written down about assignments, before going home.
- Were required to start homework within an hour after school dismissal time and to work in a quiet setting.
- Were not allowed to watch television or play video games until homework was done.
- Were not allowed to watch TV or use the computer for a day if they didn't bring home the journal or forgot anything for the day's homework assignments.
Every child will likely have trouble with homework at some point. But for children with ADD and ADHD, the problem can go beyond a few assignments. Among other things, children with ADD and ADHD face challenges with focusing, patience, and organizing. These challenges can make it hard for students to perform to the best of their potential in, and out of, the classroom.
Helping Your Child Tackle ADD/ADHD and Homework
Children with ADD and ADHD can be hasty, rushing through their homework and making mistakes. They may lose homework, struggle to organize thoughts and tasks, and fail to plan ahead.
The challenges your child faces can be overcome with practiced habits and proper study skills for ADD/ADHD students. With these 10 ADD/ADHD homework tips, your child can learn how to focus on homework with ADD/ADHD and achieve success in the classroom.
Learn how you can help improve your child’s academic skills with these homework and study tips for kids with ADHD/ADD.
Study Strategies for ADHD & ADD
1. Create a homework-only space
Children with ADD and ADHD can be easily distracted by their surroundings. Find a comfortable place where your child can work with few distractions. Use this as a quiet study space away from noise and movement where your child can clear his or her mind and focus.
Don’t do homework in the bedroom. The bedroom is a place for sleep, rest, and relaxation — not work and stress.
2. Create a consistent schedule
It is important for kids with ADD/ADHD to have a consistent routine. This will help your child start his or her homework and focus. Set a time each day for your child to sit down and complete his or her work.
3. Study in spurts
ADD and ADHD can make it hard to focus, so breaks are a must. Studying in short spurts can help. Give your child regular breaks from homework for a snack or a walk, and let the mind refresh and reset! This will give your child a chance to burn off extra energy and improve concentration when he or she returns.
4. Get the teacher involved
It’s hard to always know what is happening with your child at school. Talking to his or her teacher can help make sure you’re informed. Ask the teacher about sending regular reports on your child and updates on homework assignments. If possible, meet with them every few weeks and for progress reports. Knowing what is going on in the classroom can help you and your child’s teacher make changes to make sure your child is learning effectively.
5. Get Organized
Organize school supplies and make checklists and schedules for homework and assignments. Help your child get his or her bag ready for school the next morning and make sure all homework is complete. You can make organization fun for your child with coloured folders, special pencils, stickers and cool labels.
6. Show Support
Encourage your child to always try his or her best. Although your child should be completing his or her work independently, it is okay to help when asked. Help your child look at challenges in a positive light to keep him or her motivated. This will show that you are willing to always help him or her do better.
7. Understand how your child learns
Whether it is auditory, kinesthetic or visual, knowing how your child learns is important. Change studying habits to fit his or her learning style with graphs, visuals, music, walking, or talking out loud. Every child learns differently. Studying in a way that works for him or her can help improve understanding and retention.
Read our Complete Study Guide For Every Type Of Learner for more study tips!
8. Know when it’s time to quit
Children with ADD/ADHD can become easily frustrated and overwhelmed. Encourage your child to keep going as long as he or she can, but don’t push your child too much. If he or she has hit his or her limit, stop for the night. If homework hasn’t been completed for the following school day, send the teacher a note to explain.
9. Offer praise and positive feedback
Congratulate your child after he or she finishes his or her homework. You can also do something special, like a small treat or trip to the park. Even if your child was not able to finish his or her work, praise his or her efforts and strive for a new goal the next day.
10. Move around
Sitting for long periods of time can be challenging for students with ADD/ADHD. Letting your child get up to move around can help him or her maintain focus. Try making studying into a physical activity, where your child counts out steps when practicing math problems like addition and subtraction. Having something he or she can fidget with while doing work can also help. Stress balls are a great item your child can take with him or her wherever he or she goes.
Children Can Succeed With The Right ADD/ADHD Study Skills
Children with ADD and ADHD feel at times they cannot control their own actions. They can become easily distracted, which can lead to poor grades, frustration, and disappointment. These ADD/ADHD study tips will help your child conquer these academic challenges, with improved concentration, time management and organizational skills. Most importantly, they will also help boost self esteem and confidence.
Remember, these changes won’t happen overnight. It will take time for your child to adjust to new routines and habits. Once you, and your child, understand how to study and do homework with ADD/ADHD, your child will be on the way to more effective learning.
Does your child struggle with a learning difficulty? Find out more about Oxford Learning’s Learning Disability Tutoring programs.
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