A hallmark symptom of ADHD can be the inability to focus on one task for an extended period of time. In the classroom, there is usually some structure and an end in sight with the sound of the bell. But bringing those same elements home can be more challenging. As your student, and maybe even you, settle into the school year, here are some quick tips for focusing when it comes time to complete homework.
- Identify a “Homework-Only Zone”
- Find a spot in your home that is solely for homework – this shouldn’t be the dining room table or in front of the television. If possible, keep pets in another room.
- Play around with noise. Does your child thrive with white noise or music without lyrics or do they prefer silence? Do they need noise-cancelling headphones to tune out distractions? Try a couple options to see which works best.
- If space allows, provide a variety of seating options. Maybe your student prefers reading on the floor but needs a desk for math homework.
- Color code the learning process
- Try color-coding each subject that your child studies and get a folder and notebook to match. This way notes and loose papers can stay together. For example, when it’s time to do science homework, your child knows to grab their green materials. This can also keep them organized in the classroom.
- Similarly, students can organize their thoughts and work by using certain highlighters, pen colors, and page tabs. If it helps, notes taken in class and notes taken at home can also be written in different colors. Try out various techniques and select the colors and styles that work best.
- Tidy up
- Teachers may assign homework in different formats, so make it a goal to capture assignments in one, centralized place. This could be a homework-only folder or binder, or a homework notebook with daily checklists. Getting assignments organized before beginning the work can make a big (and positive) difference.
- Set a timer
- Some experts in the study and management of ADHD recommend The Pomodoro Technique which breaks tasks up into manageable chunks of time. Set a timer for 25 minutes and, during that time, focus only on one task. Once the timer is up, take a five-minute break. Repeat this four times for a total of two hours then take a longer break.
- Celebrate wins
- Homework is hard, with or without ADHD. Praise your child when they accomplish a task and be specific with your language. Replace “Great work” with “I’m proud that you came back to that difficult math problem and worked until you found the answer.” This helps them know what they are doing well and how to continue their success.
- If you are the student, celebrate yourself!
- Find what works best for you
- Everyone manages their ADHD differently. Do what makes you or your child the most productive, whether that means hitting the books immediately after school or taking a breather before tackling homework. Once you identify what works and develop a routine, homework will be a breeze.
If you think you have ADHD and want to know more about how to get diagnosed, we are here to help.