Ten Suggestions for Winning the Homework Wars

Health Writer

Homework time is an ongoing challenge when parenting children with ADHD. After sitting in school all day, it can sometimes be impossible for them to sit still again at home to work again. The following are five tips for helping families make it through homework time:

  1. Use motivational charts or games to help keep children interested. Give your child a reason to want to complete their homework. Children with ADHD often have a hard time connecting future events to completing a task today. For example, receiving a good grade on their report card, maybe a few months away or doing well on a test that may not take place for one to two weeks is not a realistic reason for completing homework tonight. Instead of trying to create a need to complete homework based on intangible rewards such as these, create immediate rewards at home. For example, use car and a paper racetrack (with five places). For each day the child completes their homework, and has it back in the binder or folder to take to class the next day, their car will move up one space. At the end of the week, if they made it to the finish line, they win a "prize." For more ideas, see Games to Motivate Your Child

  2. Make a homework supply box. Children with ADHD sometimes have a hard time sitting still. To combat this, they may get up continuously, looking for items they need to complete their homework, such as pencils, rulers, papers, etc. This however, can become distracting for them, making it harder for them to settle down to complete the homework. To solve this problem, create a homework supplies box. You can use a plastic storage bin or simply a cardboard box. Use the box to hold all the supplies they may need at hand to complete their homework. Add pencils, pens, lined paper, construction paper, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, rulers, erasers, glue, markers and whatever else they may need. The box can come out only during homework time and then be put back away to avoid the supplies being scattered around the house. This should eliminate many of the needs of getting up, allowing your child to concentrate on completing homework with minimum distractions.

  1. Provide a break in between school and homework time. For some children, coming home from school and immediately beginning homework creates too long of a period of time for sitting still. Allow your children to have a short break before needing to settle down and sit still once again. This can be a half hour of activity, such as being outdoors or playing indoors. This might also give you the opportunity to look over the homework for the night to keep up with what needs to be completed.

  2. Set goals and break down larger projects into manageable chunks. Look over your child's homework for the night and break down larger projects into smaller chunks. Set up a system for your child to follow, for example, you might want to have them complete their math homework first. Once that is completed, they can move around for 5 minutes and then begin work on the next subject. This allows them to focus on one thing, rather than becoming overwhelmed on completing "all" homework.

  3. If homework normally takes several hours to complete, talk with the teacher. Some teachers are willing to work with parents in assigning only some of the work, as long as the student gets practice on the key concepts. For example, your child may only need to complete the even problems on a math worksheet rather than every problem. Some teachers will let parents know approximately how long homework should take. Once that time limit is up, mover on the next subject. If you find your child is consistently having difficulty with one subject and consistently cannot complete the homework in the allotted time, you can check into tutoring services. Many schools offer after school tutoring for free.

  1. Incorporate breaks into homework time. As children get older, homework is expected to take longer. This may be hard for your child. Start with having your child work for one half hour and then taking a five-minute break. For younger children, you might want to have them work for ten or fifteen minutes with a five-minute break in between.

  2. Provide a snack and a drink before beginning homework. Children often work better if they have had something to eat. Using healthy snacks, such as fruit, vegetables or cheese will help them to focus better. Consider purchasing a water bottle so they can have a drink while completing homework, thus eliminating another reason to get up from their worktable or desk.

  3. Set an example by completing work at the same time. Use homework time as a time for you to get caught up on your own paperwork. Maybe you can pay your bills, write letters or send emails. Sitting quietly and completing your paperwork will set an example for your child. They will see you focusing and completing work and may work to follow suit.

  1. Find a quiet area for them to complete their homework. This is sometimes difficult as parents may want their child to complete their homework at the kitchen table, where they are able to keep an eye on their progress. However, there are often many distractions and children may have a hard time focusing on their work. See if there is an area close by where your child can work quietly, with minimum distractions while allowing you to check on their progress.

  2. Be consistent in your homework policies. If you require your child to come home from school, have a short break, complete homework and then have free time, keep up this schedule everyday. Children with ADHD do well with structure and knowing what to expect. If every day homework time is different and they must not only deal with completing the homework, but in understanding what is expected today, they will not accomplish as much as if they follow the same schedule each day.

You might also be interested in:

How to Help Your Child Succeed in School

How IDEA Applies to Children with ADHD

Section 504 for Children with ADHD