7 Steps to Help with Back to School for Children with ADD or ADHD
Let’s make back to school a smoother transition for our kids
Back-to-school can be bitter-sweet for all parents, but those who have children with ADD or ADHD know that back-to-school simply means a different type of battle is about to commence—the battle of getting your child to settle down and do their homework. We know this struggle as our daughter has the “inattention” of ADD which means she struggles with keeping organized and being focused in class. We’ve been learning together as we go along and have found these techniques to make homework time easier.
1. Set a timer or use the Pomodoro technique
Set short study-bursts with short breaks in between to allow your child to feel a sense of accomplishment, while being rewarded with “time off for good behavior.” The Pomodoro technique is based on scientific evidence that our brains focus best in 25 minute intervals with short, timed breaks in between. Offer breaks of 5-15 minutes in between 20-25 minute focused study time so that your student doesn’t have enough time to get too distracted during breaks. Use a free Pomodoro app or Chrome extension, trying different ones until you see which your child responds to best. For our daughter we got her the Time Timer as it’s a visual. The red disappears as her time is decreases, the visual for her works well and it’s silent, the timer doesn’t make any noise which would be a distraction for her.
2. Make a set routine for homework
Start the school year off with a set time and location for doing homework. Once you both get into the routine, homework time will be easier to manage. Our brains are wired for routine, so having a specific time and place will help your child mentally and physically prepare for completing homework each day.
3. Set the location away from electronics
Cell phones, T.V., gaming systems and internet are distracting to all of us, and none more so than a child with ADD or ADHD. When deciding on the best location for homework, keep in mind the proximity to electronic devices. If another child can be heard playing games or watching T.V. during study time, your child with ADD or ADHD will be more easily distracted. Put your child’s cell phone out of reach and on silent so that notifications won’t interrupt study time.
4. Help them get started
Make sure that your child understands the assignment in front of him and has all of the required tools for completion within reach so there is no need to interrupt focused study-bursts with little questions or the need to go fetch something they need, which, as you know, will distract him.
5. Choose one assignment at a time
Depending on your child, if they have multiple types of homework to complete in an evening, allow them to choose what to work on first, so they feel a sense of control over the required activity. This is also a great time to teach him about prioritizing tasks and setting goals.
6. Stay close by if possible
Let him know that you are right there to assist him, without hovering. If a child with ADD or ADHD feels they are being closely watched, they will be less likely to focus in on the task at hand. Reversely, children with ADD or ADHD feel more confident if they know you are nearby to answer questions. Do your best to plan a set study time when you know that you can be available to him.
7. Make homework rules
The start of the school year is the perfect time to set up ground rules for homework time. Since you know your child best, determine the start and finish times for homework, how long breaks will be and what rewards will be offered if homework is finished in a focused way. Before homework time begins, remind your child of the rules you have agreed to; this will avoid arguments during homework time.