Homework is never easy for a kid with ADHD. It doesn’t matter how old he is.
Last Wednesday night was my high school sophomore son’s first night with real homework, and it was a doozy. He didn’t have much, but it got late. He went to swimming, and we went out. When we arrived home at about 9:45 p.m., he’d barely gotten started. Needless to say, it went down hill from there.
It reminded of what I tend to forget every summer — that it always takes time to get in the homework groove and that it’s never easy.
While I don’t claim to know everything (sometimes I still feel like I know nothing) about ADHD, I have learned a few things over the years. Here are my little nuggets of wisdom — few though they are.
- Try to get homework done as soon after school as possible. Give a short break, but then get back to the books. The later it gets, the harder it is to concentrate.
- Nothing cures attention problems but mint gum helps. Always have a pack of sugarless mint gum on hand. Dole it out generously.
- Set up a study nook near where you are. In elementary school, I set up a desk for my son in my office. That way I could see when he was getting off task and attempt to redirect. Once he hit high school, he abandoned my nook and set up his own in his room. It’s not as easy to keep tabs on him.
- When frustration starts rearing it’s ugly head — allow for a 5 to 10 minute break. No work ever gets done at boiling point. A short cool down is always helpful. But keep it short. See No. 1.
- When quizzing for tests, I let him build with Legos, throw a ball against the wall, shoot a Nerf gun — whatever he needs to do. As long as he’s answering the questions — it doesn’t matter what else he’s doing.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you lose your cool. Kids need to see that parents aren’t perfect and have limits. Sometimes my worst temper tantrum snapped him out of his.
- Keep in mind that logic goes out the door after 9:30 p.m. After that witching hour, anxiety can kick in at the drop of a hat and everything is suddenly awful — school, sports, friends. Don’t despair. The next morning this will all be forgotten.
Check out our story on Tactics for the ADHD homework wars.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 16, Lilly, 14, Adam, 14, and Jonah, 10.