Because of the nature of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, students with ADHD face special challenges at school. For instance, most students lose focus easily, while some students have difficulty completing boring or demanding tasks. Studies have found that homework problems increase as children get older, and that children with both ADHD and learning disabilities struggle even more with studying. But your child can succeed in school if he or she has the right tools!
- Routine is key. Provide structure and predictability and maintain a consistent daily routine.
- Give simple requests. Children with attention problems often experience difficulty processing multiple requests quickly or accurately. When making a request or giving instruction to your child, do so in simple one-or-two step questions/commands.
- Schedule everything. Have a visual schedule for the week. Include tests, assignments, games, and even breaks like exercise, relaxation, and time with friends. (Below are some free, printable schedules)
- Use a planner. Use of a daily assignment/homework notebook is essential. It doesn’t matter whether you use a paper planner, cell phone, or calendar on your computer, every student needs to have a “central system” to record “what they’re supposed to be doing when.”
- Schedule classes. For middle and high schoolers, schedule difficult subjects in the mornings if possible. If math is your child’s most difficult subject, do not schedule it at the end of the day when his or her attention is waning.
- Highlight key points. Help your student focus on the relevant parts of the material by calling attention to the most important parts. For example, highlight instructions on tests and work sheets.
- Math tips. Teach your child to highlight math signs when working math problems. Use graph paper for math problems to help your child keep calculation columns straight.
- Use color-coding system. Organize all class materials using a color-coding system. For example, use a blue folder for math papers, blue sticker or blue book cover on math book; red folder for history papers, red sticker on history book or red book cover, and so forth. All folders are then kept in one loose-leaf notebook. On the outside of the notebook is a color-coded listing for each subject. Then when your child is on the way to history class, for instance, he can stop by his locker, check the front of his notebook and see that he needs all red covered or red stickered books or materials for history class. The notebook can also hold other school supplies your child uses frequently.
- Check assignments. Check the assignment book and/or school website every night to see which assignments need to be completed.
- Designate a study space. Select a specified area for homework and provide necessary supplies. For many students with ADHD an ideal space is quiet and distraction-free. For others, some background noise or music works better. When cutting down on distractions, get creative. If you need to work on the computer, use a program that blocks the Internet for a certain amount of time.
- Set a timer. Set a timer during homework. Each week increase it by a minute. Start at 10 minutes.