Does Your Child with ADHD Need Help with Homework?

Are you looking for ways to help your child or teen handle the daily struggle with homework? The struggle (theirs and yours) is real. It may look like a lack of motivation, or defiance, forgetfulness or even a learning disability but in reality, it is probably their Executive Function skills.

The Homework Help for ADHD covers seven Executive Function skills that have the biggest impact on homework and includes information on what to look for and plenty of strategies to help compensate.

Laine Dougherty - Notebook - Homework Help for ADHD - blue #1

Due to the current circumstances and requirements for social distancing, our classes and individual services will be conducted via Zoom or Google Hangouts.

Effective Studying to Really Remember

Effective study techniqueHere’s a strategy  written for your child. It is called SQR3. It’s an acronym that stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. They may have learned about it in the third grade but I can almost guarantee that they are no longer using it. This process guides your child to interact with the information instead of just passively reading it and expecting it to stick. Here are the five steps to really reading and remembering what you have read using SQR3 (Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review).

  1. Survey means to look through the whole chapter that you need to read and check out all the pictures, graphs, subheadings, words in bold, and questions at the end of the chapter if there are any.
  2. Question – make up some questions as to what you think is going to be important. Why are you reading this, what is important about this chapter and what do you hope to learn from reading it? You can also turn the subheadings into questions to help.
  3. Read the first page and then stop.
  4. Recall – what did you read about? Try to remember as much detail as you can (no peeking). Saying it aloud helps your brain to remember.
  5. Review – now look at what you have just read and recalled. How well did you do? Did you get all your facts right? What did you miss? Reread it if necessary and try again before going on to the next page of text.

Continue with this process of read, recall, and review all the way through the chapter. Write down key facts in a graphic organizer or on index cards to help you study later. If you don’t like to write, then record your thoughts on a digital recorder and then listen to them until you can predict what comes next.

This is a great way to study for a test. Start on Monday doing the SQR3 and then Tuesday use your graphic organizer (GO), flashcards or notes to review. Wednesday do the SQR3 again (it should be much easier this time) and any notes from class. Thursday review everything (text, notes, GO, flashcards, chapter headings) and if possible have a family member ask you some key questions.

This process gets you more involved in the reading. You will not remember things if you are just passively looking at them. Sometimes when you read for a long period of time, you actually zone out a bit (especially if it is not your favorite subject). This process makes you an active learner. Active learners learn better.

What are the steps for SQR3?

Give it a try this week and especially for finals.

What is Executive Function?

Thinking skill posterExecutive dysfunction or executive function deficit is defined by Web MD as a “set of mental skills that help you get things done.” It is a simplified definition but when you break a task down into all the components needed to complete it, it is easier to see how having one or more weak areas can stop the progress. Just take a look at the processes and skills that are needed for “thinking” in the graphic to the left. That does not take into account the other skills needed to actually get something done. These executive function skills develop in the prefrontal cortex of the brain which continues to develop until around age 25. However, these skills seem to be really important during the teen age years, yet are not quite developed enough to be depended upon.

Executive function skills help you:

  • Manage time and be realistic about what you can and cannot do in the time available
  • Regulate your emotions and behaviors to avoid saying or doing the wrong thing
  • Determine what you should pay attention to and what you should not
  • Switch focus based on the feedback you receive about the effectiveness of what you are doing
  • Plan and organize in a logical, methodical way to complete tasks and thoughts.
  • Remember what you need to remember at the right time
  • Allows you to make decisions based on your past experiences and avoid repeating your mistakes

In school, executive dysfunction can look like missing homework, forgetting to study for tests, doing poorly, spending hours on homework, or not being able to find things they know they have. One thing executive dysfunction is not, is the attitude of not caring. Most students really do care and cannot understand why they can’t “remember” things. They are frustrated and feel less capable than their peers. Self-esteem suffers and unless they get some help they can spend their school years continuing to do things the same way….and getting the same (lower than they are capable of) grades.

The worst part is that they may continue to think that they are not “smart” and avoid opportunities to stretch themselves for the rest of their lives.

What’s a parent to do? We often try to “show” our children how they “should” do things, or we wonder out loud how they could have done…x, y or z (how could you…what were you thinking…why didn’t you….etc). Although well meaning, these approaches are often met with resistance and your teen may internalize the guilt and judgment that you didn’t realize came across.

It’s time to take you out of the picture. Get students to take a deeper look at what is happening and then coach them to design strategies to work for the way they think. Traditional methods often do not work because the habits are not built into them. Teens are “told” what to do and often do not take the time to think about whether it works for them or not.

The most common executive skills that affect academics are:

  • planning/organizing thoughts, ideas and processes – difficulty writing essays in a thoughtful, organized manner, or completing projects, developing a study plan
  • working memory – holding onto all the information needed
  • cognitive flexibility- ability to shift thinking and or behavior when stuck
  • focus – determine what to focus on and what to ignore
  • controlling emotions – keeping them in check even when frustration builds
  • taking action – doing what you know needs to be done
  • getting started – taking the first step is often the toughest
  • task completion

If your teen struggles with any of these skills, it may be time to try coaching. Coaches believe that individuals have all the skills and knowledge they need to solve their own challenges by guiding them to think deeper and more creatively about them through guided questions. Teens often don’t take the time or feel they have the power to make changes that will work for the way they think. Isn’t it time they took back that power? Our group coaching classes help students become proactive, design strategies and test them, and learn about how they think with a small group of like-minded peers.

Summer Learning is Fun

Enjoy a book under a tree
Enjoy a book under a tree

Summer is a great time to help your kids strengthen their learning skills. The more they use them the less they will “lose” them. Summer learning doesn’t have to be pages and pages in a workbook but with a little creativity you can have fun and learn at the same time.

Most schools now expect students to read one or more books over the summer. Whether your child is just learning to read or reading to learn, finding books that interest them is key. Don’t just send them to their rooms to read but show you are interested in what they are reading. Be curious and engage them.  Have them summarize, compare or simply talk about what they liked about the book (don’t just accept it was a good book). Reading increases vocabulary, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, comprehension and increases their knowledge base. I think it is the number one skill for learning. If your child is a strong reader, then they can learn anything.

Reading and math skills can be used; while “playing” school, planning a vacation or a day trip (give them a budget and have them make a plan), grocery shopping or making something in the kitchen (with supervision of course).

One of my favorite activities was a competition with my Dad and my sister to list the 50 states in five minutes or less. We still talk about those nights at the dinner table racing to see who could list them the fastest. We also tried the capitals, countries and the presidents (which I did not do well at). The ideas are unlimited.

For outdoor fun, try geocaching. Geocaching is finding hidden “treasures” that other people have hidden in local parks and recreation areas. Google it and you can get coordinates to use with a gps (or smartphone) or written directions to use for a treasure hunt walk. Take along the digital camera and have the kids photograph plants, bugs and wildlife that they can identify once they get home or to the library. Play tourist in your own town, or head into Boston or south to Plymouth and make history come alive. Have your kids send postcards to their friends.

Using math and reading skills throughout the summer will help to strengthen your child’s skills but it will also show them how often we use those skills in the “real world” and not just in school.

I’d love to hear what you do to make learning fun over the summer. Please use the comment box below to let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.

Interactive 8 week small group class for 4-6th graders starting in September that teaches homework strategies, organization, project planning, using an agenda effectively and lots more. Help your child improve their grades, ease the transition and end the homework hassle. Contact us for latest class schedule and locations.