Every household and every student is different so we ask that when you are reviewing these guidelines think about what might need to be adjusted in your household to be sure that we are setting up for success! First off, if you are reading this you are already on your way because step 1 is being committed to improving. Whether this is the first year of homework or a teen or college student, creating new habits takes consistency and commitment; if this sounds like too much work or not the easy answer you were hoping keep reading, it is still a start!
Timing is key: Most people with ADHD are pros at putting off things that are more difficult or take longer to complete. You will hear and may have heard almost every excuse, this isn’t about excuses, this is about accomplishment.We work on upfront contracting and positive reinforcement and reward systems. Work with the student to set the intention in advance and then stick to it. Discuss with the student the expectations of homework such as how and when you will review daily assignments before and after they are completed. Then set a time frame for which they need to be completed by. It has to be specific and it has to fit your household. Try to use events that occur daily rather than a specific time on the clock to ensure the child has a clear understanding of what that timeframe means.
Here is one example: Child arrives home from school and they show you their work from the day and what assignments they have as soon as they walk in the door. They then have 20 minutes for snack and free time. Once the 20 minutes is up all work must be completed before any extra activities or electronics are used including cell phone, TV and video games.
Dinner is typically not a priority for most children and even teens/adults, it is a necessity, so avoid using the “finish your homework before dinner” because that affects you and the family time not the students needs, wants or desires. Most often this upsets the person making dinner and turns into an argument and dinner time a negotiation rather than much-needed family time.
During the childs snack/free time try to estimate in your mind what they will need help with more than other things and prepare yourself to be an active observer and helper as needed so that they feel both supported and monitored. Let them know that you are there if they need help with a certain area and if you have something to accomplish discuss that with the student before their snack.
Example: Student has some geography work that you know they typically struggle with and some reading and math that looks like they should handle with minimal guidance and you have dinner to make. “It looks like the countries you have to identify and the geography assignment is something that might be new to you. I have to make dinner, but am happy to work with you on it or be here for questions if you need, would this help? Could we work on that assignment first so then I can get dinner going while you finish up the rest of your work?”
If a child has something going on that you are aware of in the evening, remind them in the morning that because of the event they will have to skip free time and have their snack while they do their homework so that they can still make the special event. Giving them a heads up helps them to prepare rather than meltdown or feel unexpectedly rushed.
We talked about removing electronics before homework is completed, YOU HAVE TO STICK TO THIS! Set up the students space or their launch pad is vital. We will talk more about how to accomplish this in future posts but the key is to stick with it!
If your child is completing homework at after school or a relatives house be sure and still have guidelines set up for when they walk in the door at home. Is there remediation of a particular subject that they should do a few times a week? Be sure you are at least reviewing the work first thing and then coming up with your strategies from there. The more consistent your expectations and behavior the less likely you will have blow ups and missed work. Your child wants to please you and be successful even if they don’t let you know that!
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