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.

5 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before School Starts

1. New Beginnings: First and foremost students need to understand that each year is a brand new start. Yes, it is easy to fall back into old habits but if last year did not go the way you or your child wanted it to, then you both have the opportunity to start fresh. A self-fulfilling prophecy has been defined by www.businessdirectory.com as, “Any positive or negative expectation about circumstances, events, or people that may affect a person’s behavior toward them in a manner that causes those expectations to be fulfilled. In other words, causing something to happen by believing it will come true.”

This is not what we want to see happen. Thinking about your approach to homework difficulties before they arise and being aware of what caused you and/or them to get frustrated is a good start. What else was going on at the time? Did you find you were trying to rush your tween/teen to keep them moving on your own schedule? Were they so involved in after school programs that they “ran” from one thing to the next with no time to themselves? Were your expectations really realistic? Or were you just assuming that it, “shouldn’t take that long?” Your child is NOT you. They need above all else to know they are loved and that this year is truly a new beginning.

2. Mindset: Kids also need to know they are capable of doing anything they put their minds to. It is okay to fail provided they learn from that and figure out what to do to improve. The learning is more important than the grade. Let me repeat that, the learning is more important than the grade (suggested reading Carol Dweck, Mindset)

3. Job Requirements: Children need to remember that school is their “job.” As a job there are certain responsibilities just like any other job. You are required to do the work, put in your best effort, manage your time and your attention so that you can get your work done and still have time to yourself. No one should “work” a 12 hour day. FYI: Homework does not need to be perfect. The teacher needs to know what your child really knows and is capable of on their own, versus what they assume when they see a perfectly neat, correct homework that the two of you spent hours on.

4. What’s up? Each week everyone in the family needs to know what is up and what might interfere with homework time. Try to not schedule dentist appts or one-time events into their week without giving them notice. If something is scheduled like an organization class each week, have them block it out in their agenda and set a reminder on their phone. Sunday family meetings are a great way to start the week. Everyone knows what is happening that week and there are no surprises. Remember how it feels when your boss throws something at you unexpectedly?

Also decide together what time homework will start. Allow a 20-30 minute break when coming home. Take a 5 minute active, non-electronic break in between subjects. Keep an analog clock within view. Read the directions and picture what the finished homework will look like and then begin.

5. The basics: the school layout and where key places are such as: locker (and the combination), bathrooms on each floor, classrooms (and the quickest path to each), office and lunch room. Know the rules about cell phone use and iPods. Listen for teacher expectations like the homework rules, (late policy) where to find HW information (back board, online portal, does it get passed in or corrected together, etc.), test days, gym days, and any other information that can easily be assumed they “should” know but may not.

It’s a new beginning for students, parents and teachers too. This is your opportunity to set the expectations before problems begin and have a plan of action before it is needed. No homework is worth the stress that it can create. If you and your child “battled” last year, it may be time for a third person to step in. We are offering group classes in cooperation with the South Shore Learning Lab in Norwell and our one on one weekly or biweekly sessions now include accountability check-ins between sessions and parent updates. Contact us today as slots are filling fast.

What Did You Learn Last Year?

Now is the time to review the last school year with your child and use that knowledge for the upcoming year. You’re looking for the “best practices” – those things that worked really well both at home and at school and that you would like to see continue next year.

If your child has ADHD do you think the teacher clearly understood ADHD and were they helpful in providing strategies for school and home? What were the skills the teacher had that you feel benefitted your child? Good teachers have excellent class management strategies, and are organized so that there is little “down time” in between activities. Teachers are flexible and use positive rather than negative reinforcements. They encourage and stimulate your child’s creative abilities. Teachers that do not understand the neurobiology of ADHD tend to have the opposite effect on children – they dislike school, do poorly and it becomes a struggle all year long.

First, how would you rate this year on a scale of one to five? How would your child rate it? What would make it a five? Think about those things and create your own list together to use for the new school year. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Homework strategies:

Do your child’s grades correspond to the amount of time they spent on homework?

Did they work right up until bedtime?

Did they “multitask” between homework and Facebook?

How much is too much time? (Most towns go by the 10 minute per grade rule – check the handbook)

Routines: Would you give yourself an A or an F?

Updating a master calendar for the family weekly

Having meals planned ahead of time (so you can all eat together)

Making sure your child has time to be a “kid” each day

Preparing for the next day the night before

Weekly backpack clean out and a “get ready” for the week

Things to think about for next year

After school commitments – was your child overbooked?

(Could or would you keep the same kind of schedule?)

How much sleep does your child get? (Teens need between 8.5 and 11 hours)

Are mornings rushed? What can you do to reduce that?

If you do this and plan the beginning of the year using it, you can avoid falling back on some old habits that can creep in if you’re not careful. Together you can make it a great year. For now, enjoy the summer.

Goal Setting for Teens III

setgoals1Now that we have determined how to set a SMART goal(please see previous posts) it is time to take it to the next level and actually design a plan or strategy for achieving it. Take a look at your goal, if you have followed the steps in the previous two posts then your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time specific.

Next, determine what needs to be done to attain that goal by breaking it down into actionable steps. I use a big blank piece of paper and just start writing all the things I feel are involved in that goal. As you are brainstorming this part you’ll notice that certain steps seem to go together, write them in the same area of the paper. You’ll end up with a “mind map” or “web” with key steps grouped together. Make sure to break each idea down until it is a specific step. Going back to our example of raising a grade to an 83%, we can see that a step such as, “studying more” is much too general. Break it down until you can get to the specifics involved (it helps to answer who, what, where, when, why and how questions). Is your goal still realistic and attainable given all these steps?

Now before we go further, take a look at what you have written down. Do you see any potential obstacles, roadblocks or challenges that could occur to stop you from achieving your goal? If you can foresee the obstacles before they occur you can design strategies to overcome them before they happen. Knowing your plan if “x” should occur will prevent you from giving up on your goal because one thing went wrong. I am assuming you have had this goal before but did not achieve it. Einstein is known for his definition of insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  What will make it different this time?

You should take a short break at this point and let your brain process all this information. Often new ideas or strategies will come to you while you are doing something else that is less brain intensive. Come back and reread what you have written, is there anything to add?

The last step for today is to prioritize your steps and actually put them in your calendar. You do use a calendar don’t you? Mark out where and when you will do step a, b and c, etc. I would suggest you double the time you think it is going to take to do the step, until you get a better idea of the actual amount of time you will need for each step. Is it still realistic? What can you do RIGHT NOW to keep the momentum going? DO IT!

Next post will cover ways to leverage your environment and track your progress. Please feel free to post your questions or goals in the comment box below.