Thursday, 5 April 2018

Helping our ADHD son focus on his homework

Boy on computer

It may be the Easter break but that doesn't mean learning stops.  There's all the everyday learning when you go to the park and do activities at home of course.  And then there's also homework that's got to be done too.

For kids like Anthony who has autism and ADHD this can be hard.  There's some great tips for helping kids with autism, but most of Anthony's difficulties arise from distractions.  He's constantly unable to focus on the homework and gets frustrated.  It means it can take ages.  And it's only going to get worse the older he gets and the more homework he has.  So here's some of things we are looking out for.

Lazy reading

There is such a thing as a right and a wrong way to study, and we really try to help our kids to know the difference.   Lazy reading is when someone reads a book they are studying, but without actually taking it in.  This can be quite easy to do when kids first learn to read.  They are focussed so much on reading words that they miss the point of the story.  However, as they grow they need to be learning from what they are reading - not just reading it.

When you have difficulty with paying attention, like Anthony, this can be challenging. Mostly we help by practising reading with comprehension questions.  We'll ask Anthony a question about the story or even better, asking him to summarise the page to his little sister who is listening to him read.

Social media / googling

There is much to say for what social media is and isn’t doing for ourselves and our kids.  According to this article on ‘How To Become A Productive Student’, many kids waste time procrastinating by using social media.

Anthony isn't into social media yet but he is easily distracted on the laptop when he comes to do his homework.  It can be as simple as closing down all the windows, but this only eliminates half the issue.  Much of Anthony's homework is using the internet to find things out and he simply gets caught up in a topic.  Last week he had to write about Mars but he got distracted by the size of space when looking up how far away Mars was from Earth.  He had looked up how far all the planets, the Sun and the next solar system was before I pulled him back on track.

In this case and like many others we help Anthony make a list of things he is going to find out to help him stay focused.  It helps a bit, but he still needs pulling back to the list.

Poor environment

If Anthony can hear the TV in the living room, then he can't concentrate on his homework.  He's too busy thinking about what's on the TV.   If Anthony isn't sitting on the bench, he'll swing on his seat and get distracted by the movement.

It's easy to get the area around him wrong but if he's going to be able to focus we have to help him out a bit.  If he liked doing his homework in the lounge or in the garden this would be fine, just as long as it's the right environment for him.


This is really tough for us.  Anthony is very motivated by praise.  However, praise too early and he thinks his job is done.  Over-rewarding your child is easily done - I know.  It took me a while to get the balance right.

It had to be enough so he felt he was doing a good job (like many kids with ASD or ADHD, Anthony can suffer from very low self esteem) but to also give him an opportunity to get into the topic and enjoy it for itself, instead of the praise.  Perhaps even if that does mean he learns a bit more about the planets than he needed to, I guess.

What tips do you have to help your kids focus?

Starlight & Stories did a fantastic guest post on helping kids with autism with their homework.  
It's got some great ideas, so have a look. 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting insight. I am sure I was a lazy reader and for now reason other than just being lazy. I don't think I ever learned good study habits. I can imagine a child with ADD or ADHD would have an even harder time. #coolmumclub


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