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.

Three Keys to Being More Productive – From Our Archives

What does productivity mean to you? Yes, it is about getting things done, but more importantly it is about getting the right things done at the right time.  It is also about making decisions. I am sure you know the feeling of being busy all day long only to wonder at the end of the day what you actually did.  Being busy is not necessarily being productive.  Today’s reality is that we are constantly being bombarded by stimulus (ex. cellphones, internet, social media, news, blog posts, emails, texts, electronic billboards, pop up ads, etc.) we have to be vigilante that all that stimulus doesn’t distract us from the important things. It’s a bit like that dog in the movie UP that yells “squirrel” and runs off after another distraction.

According to two online dictionary definitions, Productivity is “the quality state or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance or bring forth goods and services.” Or it means you “do a lot.” Both of those sound like being a robot; preprogrammed to action without thinking about whether or not what we are doing is important. How do you avoid that?

  1. First step is to set clear boundaries. That word has been overused somewhat but if you think of yourself with a fence around you and only one gate to get in that you control you will get a better idea of what I mean. All this outside stimulus just finds its way to our attention which takes our focus off of the important things or even just the things we want to do. With you in control you get to open the gate and let in only that which is important to you at the time. Or you can be standing in the middle of an open field with no fence and have all that “stuff” assault you from every direction. Which would you prefer?

Ways to set boundaries:

  • Handle or prevent those interruptions that you can control and find a way to limit or cut short those that have you at the mercy of someone else.
  • Turn off your alerts and decide when you will be available.
  • Check email three or four times a day, not constantly
  • Decide if “x” is worth your time, energy or effort before you say yes. Sure, you may want to do it all but at what price?
  • Make/take time for yourself
  1. Taking care of yourself is the next key. I understand you want to do all and be all but you can be of no help if you become ill or feel resentment. Self-care means making the time to exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, socialize and do the things that lower your stress level. Being organized makes your life easier too, why do things the hard way when you don’t have to?

Self-Care keys:

  • Create morning and evening routines that serve you that include a specific bedtime and wake up time.
  • Filter out the extraneous stuff. Let go of commitments you are no longer interested in or are of a lower priority.
  • Set aside some time for yourself. (Sometimes that means locking the bathroom door – do whatever it takes).
  • Organize so that you have efficient systems to handle the everyday stuff. Your home needs to serve you, not make your life more difficult. Make sure you can find what you need quickly and return it to that place when you’re done.
  • Choose wisely grasshopper, as you are trading away time that can never be regained.
  1. Planning and Prioritizing will keep the important things on the top of the list. Having a plan will keep you on track. By creating your list the night before you have time to think about how important those tasks are to you. Without a plan your day can go in any direction but often it is not the direction you want it to go in. Priorities should be based on your goals and dreams as you work towards creating the life of those dreams.

Ways to Plan and Prioritize:

  • It’s okay to not be able to do it all – some things should never be done, and some can easily be put off as long as you are the one that decides. Delegate what you can.
  • Prioritize tasks in a way that honors who you are.
  • Schedule in even the tiniest tasks. If you color code your calendar you can see where the majority of your energy and time is going.
  • Estimate how long you think a task will take and then time yourself. Don’t forget to include commuting time, prep time and clean up time.
  • Be realistic in the amount you can accomplish in one day. Start small and build your momentum by getting the higher priorities or the more distasteful (but important) ones done early.

Keeping these keys in mind will help you live the life you dream of. Good luck.

Coffee and Routines

Routines keep us goingRoutines, we all have them. Some are helpful and some are not. Routines that are based on good habits are sets of things we do every day that have a positive effect. You probably have a morning routine that gets you and your family out the door in the morning, and an evening routine that ends the day. Do they serve you? By that I mean do they make things run smoothly, keeping you relaxed or do they add chaos, disorganization or a sense of hurriedness to your life?

I think the holiday season is one time where the impact of disrupting the routines of the day can show its effect. Behaviors erupt, patience is thin, and chaos reigns. If there is any ADHD in the family, then those routines/habits are even more important. For those with ADHD, a routine may not always be the same from day to day. In fact, for most people/children with ADHD every day is a new day and often a new “routine”. However, it definitely helps if those with ADHD can create a routine of good habits so that they are on automatic pilot rather than having to take the time to figure out what they should do next. It is the thinking “now what do I have to do?” that causes the mind to go blank or to act on whatever is in front of them.

According to pediatricians at www.healthychildren.org, ““Every family needs routines. They help to organize life and keep it from becoming too chaotic. Children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent.” We’ve all seen this. A sudden change of plans can send our day into a tailspin or worse, change our normally happy youngster’s personality into something we don’t recognize (tantrums optional). Routines for kids provide a sense of predictability and that makes them feel safe. It does the same for adults although I would change the feeling of safety to a sense of control.

Routines teach responsibility, organization, and cooperation and positively reduce your stress level, save you time and energy and bring a sense of control to your daily life. It is that simple. Routines are beneficial in the morning, after school or when returning home for the day, dinner time, and bedtime. It’s not just about the “basics” of a routine as there is often room to add something to your routine that you feel has been missing. For example: it is not just about remembering to brush your teeth at night, but also about ending your day on a positive note. Are you watching TV until bed and then tossing and turning or do you read something positive after having set yourself up for a stress free morning?(Clothes out, lunches packed or planned, keys on hook, phone charging, etc.)

Take a look at your routines and those of your family and see if they are beneficial or not. If things are not working, figure out why and try something new. Keep at it until it works. If things are working well, then you might want to consider adding something to an already established routine. Research shows that linking a new behavior to something that is already “routine” makes it easier for it to become a habit. I have added writing in a journal to my morning routine that also includes listing three things I am grateful for. It starts my day with gratitude and a positive attitude. What will you add to your routine?

Tomorrow I'll Do It

Tame your time
Tame your time

The word procrastinate is defined by Webster as, “to put off doing something usually out of habitual carelessness or laziness or to postpone or delay needlessly.” I am not so sure I agree with that definition. Sometimes we have to procrastinate because there simply is not enough time in the day to do it all. If the task is really important it will get done but only when its priority is increased. For example, a student who needs to study for a test, will eventually sit down and study or will have to accept the consequences of a low grade. For the ADHD brain, the pressure of a task that HAS TO get done is often enough of an adrenaline rush to push you to get it done. Sometimes though, you may have to trick yourself by setting false deadlines as if they were real.

First step in eliminating procrastination is deciding what is in it for you and what will happen if you don’t do it? This should help you determine if you are really committed to it. Then determine what is preventing you from completing it. Is it a fear of failure or lack of information? Or are you afraid you cannot do a “perfect” job so you don’t start?

Next, decide to get started. Break the task into manageable pieces or set a time limit and work until the time is up. You may realize it isn’t as difficult as you thought and you can keep going.  Cheryl Richardson starts her day asking herself, “What action do I most want to avoid doing today?” Then she begins with that and notes that things quickly change for the better after that. Remember to reduce distractions before you begin working and reward yourself when you complete the task. Overcoming the procrastination habit leads to healthy feeling of being in control of your life. Want to feel competent and capable? Then do it today!

It's About TIME

time-timerIt is almost time for getting back to school. If last year was a struggle, it was probably about that four letter word…T I M E.

Does your child have the same perception/understanding about time that you do? If you feel that you are often encouraging them to “hurry up” or if they sometimes miss the bus or stay up late completing a project then you might want to try this experiment. Gather the family and a stop watch. Ask the children to close their eyes and not open them until they feel a minute of time has passed. Each individual will guess differently. Now have them time you. Is their sense of a minute longer or shorter than yours? Are you thinking it has been a minute when it has only been 30 seconds? Sometimes children haven’t developed that internal sense of the passing of time. Sometimes adults are in such a state of “rush” that they lose that sense of time. Using analog clocks and visual timers like a time timer can help develop that internal sense.

Next thing to figure out is how much time is available and what is it being used for? I suggest having your child keep track of his time on a time log. It is a great way to see where the time is going. Is there enough time for homework or are after school activities cutting that short? Sometimes, kids are doing the best they can but they are so exhausted from other activities, that homework only gets the minimum amount of effort. Other times they are just wasting the time or are multitasking between homework and Face Book.

So, is there enough time for the homework? Check the planner. If the student is using it, they should begin to estimate the amount of time each subject will take them. Add up those estimates and decide if there REALLY is enough time.

There are two drawbacks to a paper planner. Assignments are usually written in on the day they are given and not on the day they are due. So, if a project or test is due a week away, there is no reminder once the planner page has been turned. Secondly, a planner doesn’t provide the big picture view of what is due. Many students are using the calendar feature on their iPod touch or Google calendar to keep track of assignments and also to set reminders. Electronic reminders don’t forget and… kids don’t see them as “nagging” either.

Printing out the calendar view or writing all assignments on a monthly calendar helps to give the big picture view of what is coming up. Be sure to write in all activities and appointments so that students know exactly how much time they have to get homework done. The big picture also helps them see how many days they will need to work on a long term project.  It allows them to add in small blocks of studying over several days to prep for a test. This has been shown to be more effective than cramming the night before. Using these strategies will help your child begin to understand that time can’t be stretched and if they want to have free time to themselves, they need to use the time they have efficiently.

If you’d like to stop “reminding” your child about homework every day and begin to build independence then check out our daily email program called end homework hassle. Each day a new strategy or skill is sent to your child through email. You get a weekly update of the content so you can support them as they go.

Family Calendars

How do I keep track of my kid’s schedule and my own? Having one main calendar for the entire family to use to post appointments, practices, project due dates, and special events helps avoid overbooking and/or missed appointments. Let each family member use a different color marker or post it note on the calendar. Place the calendar in an obvious place so that it is frequently seen. I recommend the refrigerator. Yes, it’s nice to have all those pictures on there, but not if you are missing appointments and forgetting things.

Pick one day a week to review and plan the upcoming week with the family. Sundays work well for many busy families. If you use an electronic or paper planner also, then be sure to input the new information so that you are up to date. For students, make sure they enter their information directly into their school agenda. Ordinarily I suggest one calendar, but if multiple people are involved then there needs to be something that is constantly visible to all. Click on the calendar link above to see various sizes of planet safe planners that are wet, dry and sticky note compatible. Or simply print out a month or a week at a time calendar from Microsoft Word or Publisher. For those that prefer an electronic version, try a shared Google calendar provided everyone has easy access to it.

Happy New Year 2011!

I wish each reader a happy, healthy and prosperous new year where all your dreams come true! I love the start of a new year (new month and new weeks work for me too). I feel like it’s a chance to start over with a fresh, clean slate and wide open, empty calendar spaces.

Part of my “getting ready” process is to go through the past year’s planner and transfer any important dates like birthdays, anniversaries, deaths, milestones, etc. into the new planner. While I am going through each month I also see what was actually planned and what was accomplished. Most years my plans are overly ambitious as Super Woman couldn’t complete my lists even if she never slept.

This year though, I want to stay more positive and so I’m not berating myself about what didn’t get done – I am celebrating what did. Jack Canfield’s recent blog mentioned a Wins List. He listed a number of questions to get the reader thinking about specific kinds of “wins” they had throughout the year. I started doing that and noticed that not all “wins” were simple. Some were the results of derailments or serendipitous experiences that weren’t planned for. Had I stuck to my (often) rigid plan I would have missed these surprises and the delight they brought to my life.

For example, the 5pm phone call that led to dinner out with friends at 5:30pm and a lead to an administrative assistant who is now working with me. Or the rescheduled haircut appointment that coincided with a long lost college friend’s appointment, giving us time to catch up.

Life is unpredictable and the tighter we try to control it, the more it seems to throw at us. Loosen up and enjoy the ride….that’s what I’m aiming for this year. What will you do differently this year? Let me know by adding a comment in the box below. Thanks for reading.

Homework Help for Parents

Is your child spending hours doing homework and then struggling to get up the next morning? With the first quarter coming to an end you will be able to see what grades all that studying has produced. Is the time spent reflected in the grades? If not, here are ten tips to help

1. Have your student start their homework within 30 minutes of arriving home from school.  Waiting until after dinner only makes the brain work harder since the body is working to digest dinner.

2. Have them take time to have a snack of protein and complex carbohydrates (the brain needs energy too) before getting started or to nibble on while they work.  

3. Doing something active for about 15 minutes even if it is just walking around the neighborhood or shooting a few hoops will help send blood and oxygen to the brain.

4. Set a timer for 45 minutes and have them get to work on the toughest subject first. If you feel your child does not have an accurate sense of time you might want to use a kitchen timer or time timer that shows the passage of time.

5. Make sure all the supplies they need are within arm’s reach of their study space.

6. Limit the distractions. Keep the TV off and the noise level low so that they will not be distracted by what others are doing. If your child is an auditory learner, having music playing in the background can be helpful. There are classical compilations designed to enhance concentration.

7. Help your child estimate how much time they think it will take to complete all homework accurately and completely and then add 30 minutes. The general rule is 10 minutes for each grade level. For example, a sixth grader should have about an hour of homework. Suggest they plan what they will do for fun or relaxation when their homework is done.

8. After working for 45 minutes or so, students should take a 10-15 minute break. It should be long enough for them to get recharged but not long enough for them to start something else.

9. Don’t over book your child! Kids need “downtime” too. Take a look at their schedule and make sure they have time for homework,  friends and family.

10. Use a central calendar that is updated each weekend for the upcoming week and have students write down their commitments in their agenda books. Family meetings help insure that everyone knows what is coming up for the week.

 

Next: Learning styles and how they can help save time.

 

 

 

The two minute gnat attack

Gnats, those tiny, black, pesky bugs that seem to have innate radar for flying into eyes and mouths are out in full force this week. They are annoying and persistent not unlike some of the tasks on my to do list. I know that if I run I’ll have a moment of peace or I can wave my arms wildly swinging and clapping at the air and maybe decrease the population by …two or three. The same technique doesn’t work with my to do list. Running doesn’t make it go away and smacking the page only wrinkles it. What’s a girl to do?

 

As a David Allen (author of Getting Things Done) fan, I like to use the two minute rule. David says, “If the Next Action can be done in 2 minutes or less, do it when you first pick the item up.” Even if that item is not a “high priority”, because it takes longer to store and track any item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your head. (p. 131, “Getting Things Done”)

Every now and then I let those two minute tasks pile up usually because something else more important needs my attention. That’s when those little tasks begin to feel like a swarm of gnats. You can’t really see them, but you know they are there and they really “bug” me. So today, I set out to see how many two minute tasks I could complete in 30 minutes. I worked for two minutes on my email inbox, responding with a few quick replies, and then two minutes on deleting emails. Then it was on to sending a card, paying a bill and making a phone call. Two minutes of filing was followed by refilling the printer paper and clearing my desk. Then I had to fit in another two minutes deleting emails since it was so much fun. You get the idea, the more I did the more I wanted to do and having that timer go off every two minutes and switching to another activity made it much more like a game than work.  The result – I crossed off a number of tasks on the list, freed up some “psychic ram” (brain space) and probably lowered my blood pressure. Cost = 30 minutes, resulting feelings = priceless. Give it a try and let me know how you do by clicking on the comment link below. Ready, set ….go!