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krisp 04-09-04 09:34 AM

Successful homework strategies for ADHD or LD

Parents play a very important role in helping students believe that time spent completing homework assignments can and does make a difference in successful learning. Parents are helping their child with homework when they:

* Stress the importance of homework by providing a time, a place, and supplies for it.
* Reinforce the belief that homework is important by supporting, encouraging, and praising the child's efforts. Remember, we all perform best in a supportive atmosphere in which we are valued as individuals.
* Reassure the child that some subjects are most difficult than others if a child is working hard but with disappointing results.
* Feel free to discuss what you can do to help the situation with both the student and the teacher.
* Say, "Tell me about your homework" instead of asking the child if he/she has homework.
* Provide the child with a clear surface on which to work, good light, appropriate tools, and a comfortable chair. (Not too comfortable - an easy chair may encourage napping.)
* Provide a homework environment that is free from background distractions of television, loud conversation, or pets. For some children "white noise" provided by soft instrumental music helps mask such sounds, for others silence is more effective.
* Intercept drop-in playmates of the child as well as those of his/her siblings.
* Realize that a child may be distracted by subtle things, such as white paper against a dark desktop. If a child is unable to focus after you have eliminated obvious distractions, check out less obvious sources of distraction.
* Recognize that a child may become tired. Even busy walls or buzzing light fixtures may cause the child fatigue!
* Listen to or discuss the main points of a homework assignment.
* Work one or two examples together and make sure that the child understands the assignment.
* Communicate with teachers when more information is needed about assignments.
* Keep in touch with your child's teacher to learn about what the class is studying.
* Look over your child's paper after the teacher returns it.
* Help the child to place finished homework into a backpack so that it can be turned in on time.
* Suggest a telephone break during the time that homework is done. Friends will need to be alerted, and the parent can volunteer to take messages for any stray calls.


If a child has difficulty completing homework assignments, he/she may need modifications that coincide with modifications required on the individualized education program (IEP). The following suggestions might be considered:

* Specify the amount of time to be spent each evening on homework.
* Include an agreement to grade only the homework which the child has completed.
* Determine and address the purpose of the homework.
* Consider alternatives to long-term written assignments: Allow the child to use an audio cassette record rather than write assignments.
* Allow the child's parent to write assignments dictated by the child.
* Provide graph paper for computation if the student has mathematical disabilities.
* Numerals can be written in the boxes to avoid failure to line them up vertically.
* Allow the child to make a model and/or drawing rather than complete a written assignment. For example, make a paper model of a favorite scene in a book, an historical event, etc.
* Allow the child to do a science experiment and record the results with a video camera (if available), photographs, or drawings. Have the child tell about the experiment.
* Provide the child with an opportunity to present a short dramatic sketch of a character in a reading assignment, complete with simple costumes, etc.
* Allow the child to use a computer to complete written assignments.
* If the child has difficulty bringing assignments home, specify that a copy of assignments will be given to the child. You might suggest that the teacher copy his/her weekly lesson plan book for the parent, blocking out personal information or allow the child to have a classmate provide a copy of written assignments (using carbon paper).
* Provide a set of textbooks for home use by the student. Allow parents to highlight topic sentences or significant facts, particularly in social studies and science texts.
* Allow the child to use taped or audio textbooks. These are available from the Texas State Library as well as commercial sources.
* If a student has difficulty copying from a paper or from the board, teach the the child "copy procedures" such as those in Structures and Techniques: Remedial Language Training.

(Compiled by Margaret Carr, Educational Consultant, for the Learning Disabilities Association of Texas Conference, November, 1999)

mctavish23 08-01-04 11:50 AM

Excellent post.There are also some good ideas in The Parents Guide to Attention Deficit Disorder...,,,by McCarney & Bauer (Hawthorne Press). In addition, Taking Charge of Russell Barkley is another good source.

Always remember that everyone has their own learning style, so finding whaich one works best with your child is very important. Good luck.

RoseRed 11-30-04 10:32 AM

Any suggestions for when she just doesn't want to do it? (8yrs. old - 2nd grade)

Amber pretends to be stupid. (Yes, I mean stupid) as in <I>pencil, what's a pencil</I>? :confused: Paper - hmm, oh yeah, "how do I fold an airplane?" half way thru her math homework. 2+2= <I>uhm, wait a minute.....hang on there,,,I know....oh, I forgot...hmmmmm....</I>3. And while she's at it she'll kick her shoes off and put them back on the wrong feet. etc., etc.

It's so obvious when she does it because she gets that glint in her eyes and you can see her jaw clenching just a little. And you can just make out a smirk under that look of idiotic wonder.

Does anyone else have this type of homework nightmare? She's gone 6 hours sitting at the kitchen table because she "forgot" how to spell her name and wouldn't write it on her paper. It wasn't until I brought in her bike and started taking it apart that she WOW- finished the entire page in less than 10 minutes! Thank God for medication!

We just got her a puppy and I swear the dog's got ADD too. Ball, what's a ball? wheeeeee!:confused:

2ndtimearound 12-01-04 12:48 AM

Rose Red I know how you feel. My eight year old has a problem with doing home work. He hates to write or read. Our fight of the evening is getting it done. He does his math fine.(love math and science) if he doesn't have to read. But I have your problem with just not wanting to do it. It doesn't matter to him if he get a bad grade as long as he doesn't have to do home work. He has ask me to home school him so he want have home work at night.Good luck. We have a long way to go

RoseRed 12-02-04 10:25 AM

Amber ended up staying back last year. Her teacher and I thought it would be in her best interest. I didn't get her started on Strattera until early April and up until then she struggled to read. After starting her medication she was able to focus and concentrate and finally GOT IT!!!!! It was so close to the end of the year (FL - the end of MAY) that instead of making her struggle to catch up in 3rd grade she has the chance to really understand the concepts in 2nd grade.

She's always been excellent in math and truly enjoys science. Now the biggest problem is getting her to read what she's supposed to instead of just what she wants to! I never realized how much writing there really is in the world around us until she started to point it out and try read every bit of it! Good God, no wonder they're over-stimulated!

Is your son on medication yet?


2ndtimearound 12-03-04 02:01 AM

Yes he has been on Adderall for about a year. Last month his ped. changed him to Adderall XR. We tried the Strattera for two months but she took him off that. He hasn't been held back but I did move him to another school. We were in a K-6 grade school from kindergarten until last year. I moved him to a larger school where not sitting sit or going to sharpen your pencil doesn't get you ISS.His teacher last year had some issues with his condition and when you get a repatation at school nothing you do helps they treat you better.Now being at another school doesn't make him want to read or write but his self-esteem is great and he likes his teacher.Sometimes the school is the problem. I think if schools went back to recess (which we don't have at our schools here) our kids would not need so many meds. Having thirty minutes in the morning and maybe thirty in the afternoon to go outside and run would help a lot of kids. My daughters school has P.E.for thirty minutes and a fifteen minute break at 1:30 (but they have to stay inside)for a snack. Now at my son's school he has an hour for P.E. and a ten minute break at 2:00 for a snack. Neither school nor any of the schools here have what we call recess when I was in school. A looooong time ago. "grin" Maybe with lots of love and patience we will have happy kids.

witsend 03-16-05 12:18 PM

Witsend here..I'm new to this site & while bouncing around (funny I should use that term) I found your post. I SO UNDERSTAND YOU!!!!! (Hence my log in name.) I too have an 8y/o (a boy) in 2nd grade. I just don't know what to do. I've talked to his teacher, school resouce specialist, etc... He sometimes "acts stupid" just as you describeyour daughter doing.. how irritating is that? His grades reflect that exterme opposite of that. I know he's doing it just to DRIVE ME NUTS!!! ( succeeding at times too!!) He's got an animal report due in 2 days, has had over a month to work on it, but now we're down to the wire.... Arrrh! (& he blames ME for not having it done when he wants to do something fun!!)

witsend 03-16-05 12:30 PM

NO RECESSS!!!! WHAT!!!!???! Where is this? If my child didn't have recess he'd been expelled --from all schools in the city!! We changed schools this year because we moved , but I would've changed him even if we hadn't moved. you're right about the reputation if your kid is labeled. My son was "misuseing" the climbing sturcture one day & was banned from it for the rest of the school year, it was Jan. & school let out in June. After that he was singled out for lots of things.

PORTO 04-06-05 08:24 PM

What do you think of the idea of challenging a child with ADD with inattention. I've signed my son up for advanced math. His IQ is 125 and he is very capable. Do you think this is a bad idea, perhaps this is my lack of understanding of ADD. Has anyone had success with challenging ADD children?

Kimalimah 04-08-05 09:27 AM

Welcome Porto!

I think that all you can do is try it out. If it works, great! If not, then you just look for the next thing.

My son is also very intelligent, but does poorly in school. His inablitiy to concentrate and poor social skills make it difficult for him to tap into what's there. We now have him in a private school with very small classes and it seems to be going better.


Dee Dee 05-04-05 02:18 PM

A Thank you and a Question
Hi Everyone,

I wanted to give a big thanks to Mctavish for recommending "The Parents Guide to ADD' book. I received it in the mail yesterday and scanned it (I have ADD too) and it looks like its got answers for every possible behavior problem my son has exhibited (past, present & future). However, I would like to get some personal experiences for this one partiular problem I'm dealing with.

Here is the situation: My son's teacher sends home any work he does not complete in school, in a folder, to do at home, that night (I don't agree with this totally..see below). Right now he is not getting to watch TV at all at night if he doesn't bring home his folder empty. But its not working...he hasn't gotten to watch TV in like 2 weeks straight and he is getting very angry and discouraged. I want to modify this punishment somehow but I don't want him to think he can just get away with doing nothing in class. I want to help motivate him. Can you make suggestions or share stories, on how he should be rewarded and/or punished for work complete and not complete.

AND I am angry with the teacher ....he is supposed to be on the 504 plan and having decreased homework. But instead he has twice as much because of having to complete his daily work. I complained to the teacher in charge of the 504 (different person than his classroom teacher) and she said just have him do work for 1 hour a night. Homework first and whatever else he can complete, then send the rest back. I agreed. But he is 7 years old . Do you think 1 hour a night is too much time to spend on homework?

I hope you can follow along here my ADD is worse because I'm very stressed about this. His teacher wants to hold him back from 2nd grade and I know he is too smart for that. He has above average IQ.

Thanks in advance for your feedback !

Imnapl 05-04-05 08:19 PM

Dee Dee,
Is your son on medication?

Ichpuchtli 05-05-05 04:54 AM

thanks great advice krisp. shall use.

RoseRed 05-05-05 09:44 AM

Dee Dee, some thoughts
Dee Dee,

I soooooooo sympathize with you. I went through what you are - it's difficult, to say the least. My daughter just turned 9 in Feb. and is still in 2nd grade. SHE PASSED THIS YEAR !!!!!!!!! Making our kids stay back is usually harder for us than it is for them. I'm sure your son is smart as a whip but he could probably benefit from staying back. Amber is also above average IQ but she just didn't know how to apply it. I was very unhappy with the idea of Amber staying back but it turned out to be the best thing I could've done for her for a number of reasons:

1. In Sept she was closer to the incoming 2nd graders maturity level (talking in class, playing around - that kind of stuff)

2. It is better for the child to have a strong grasp of what they are required to know instead of forcing them to struggle thru work that they don't understand because the foundation of that understanding is not fully in place.

3. If you do force him to go on to the next grade and he simply cannot grasp the concepts it will lower his self-esteem, self-worth, make him feel 'stupid', etc. You think he's discouraged now - wait.

4. She ended up being a classroom 'helper' and learned even more by helping the kids that didn't understand the work. Talk about a self-esteem lifter - she was on cloud 9!!!

5. You can go from barely passing grades to Honor Roll. Amber's been on it all year and will finish out the year as an Honor Roll kid. (She asked me to not get the bumper sticker but to scan and email everybody her Honor Roll Certificate!

6. You can have him put with a teacher that is willing to take the extra time and care enough to work with him. (more later)

Well, that's off the top of my head - I'm sure I could think of more if I tried.

School can be wonderful or a total nightmare. I've had both and I think it really depends on the teacher. Thank God school is almost out for the year (but then we have a whole summer to keep them busy - ugh.)

I don't blame you for being mad. I would be too. This is bordering on rediculous. I don't know what the 504 plan is but here's a couple thoughts.

---- He doesn't have more homework. He has unfinished classwork. This means that he is probably being distracted. He should be sitting in the front row, closest to the teacher (if he likes him/her) to cut down on disturbances.

You could break it into sections. Do the homework (and time it) then give him a break or a snack and go back to it later to finish the classwork. Give it the ful 60 minutes in sections and let him know you expect him to do his best. You could set your kitchen timer for the time that's left for his classwork. If he plays games - take something away, if he does his best - reward him.

---- Maybe he should be evaluated by the spec ed team. As much as we hate the thought of it as parents - we have to put our kids first! If 6 kids in a class means more personalized attention and a positive experience then it is worth it. Can you imagine how hard it'll be when he decides he hates school and doesn't want to go?!? After he is the school is much more co-operative (even if he's not in special ed) when it comes to working with you.
---- A straight hour of homework a night is REDICULOUS for a 7 year old! Especially with ADD. Forget the 504 supervisor - you should've been told that! GO STRAIGHT TO THE GUIDANCE COUNSELOR ***** and if that's not enough inform the GC that you will be having a meeting with him, the principal and the teacher next. If that is still unstaisfactory you will go to the School Board next - this is what your taxes pay for!*****

**** *This is your kid's education THERE IS NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS RIGHT NOW! - Don's be stressed - be mad enough to open your mouth and let the school know that you will not be bullied by their BS and that you will be an active part of your childs schooling from now on.

They will bend over backwards to kiss your butt just to try to make you go home. I also had to inform Amber's 1st grade teacher (after an unfriendly discussion) that if my daughter came home in tears again because the teacher was taking out her anger with me on my kid - tenure or not - I was going over EVERBODY's head, straight to the Superintendent and filing a formal complaint.

----- In my opinion (and everybodies got one so...) 2 weeks without the TV is a little harsh. All it's going to do is make him angrier (and hopefully not spiteful). Maybe you can find a happy medium between his favorite shows and cut out the other stuff.

He coesn't have to think he's "getting away with doing nothing in class". It's OK to explain to him that 'This punishment isn't working and I can see how much it is bothering you. You can have your favorite shows _____ (2 or 3) back and you can earn more BUT you need to do your schoolwork in school.' Or something like that. Just because you're Mommy doesn't mean you have to be perfect. After 2 weeks you can see if a punishment is effective and obviously it's not.

---- CONGRATULATIONS!!! You actually get his papers home inside the folder ?!?!? WOW! I wish I could do that.

---- You'll probably have to speak with the principal on this one but... In your child's best interest you would like to work with the principal/guidance counceler in choosing his teacher for next year. Don't be afraid to interview them!

Ask questions like - How much experience do you have with ADD?, This (whatever it is) doesn't work - how would you handle it differently? What will his seating arrangements be? Are you here for the pay, retirement or because you care about the kids?

Go over the books and expectations before the next year starts. Just by looking at it you'll be able to tell the teacher what areas your son will have a problem in. Make sure they write it down! or they will forget. They're only human after all.

Obviously - this is a passionate topic for me. I am a very upfront person and when it comes to my kid - get out of the way! I also happen to be very outspoken. When dealing with school situations you need to be. There's no reason to not be polite or civil. Acting professionally will get you much further then throwing a tantrum. (but if you do through a tantrum - make sure it's a good one!!! they won't forget it anytime soon)

If you're not as 'in your face' as I am (or so my mother tells me) you can still use these suggestions in a way that's comfortable for you. Everybody's different. Just don't be afraid to go over anybody's head. Your financial circumstances have absolutely NOTHING to do with the level and quality of the education your son recieves! (or anyone else's for that matter.) I'm a single mom on disability and Amber's on thel unch program - that has NOTHING to do with her class work or how she is treated. God help the person that thinks it does!

Feel free to write back or email me if you want. I used to hate dealing with the schools. Now I just go in at the beginning of the year, ask the principal if she remembers me and have a short but sweet chat about the coming year. Once they know you will jump - they'll be more than co-operative. Good Luck.

Michele Rose

ps. You didn't mention is he's on medication or not. I have Amber on Strattera (and I cried when I picked it up at the pharmacy - Thank God I know everyone there and they know my daughter) . It was the best thing I ever did for my kid. She is now able to concentrate. She's able to think straight. she's able to overcome distractions (and complain about the kids that do distract her constantly) Her behavior at home improved incredibly. Her concentration in other areas improved.

I know medicating our children is a very personal choice and an emotional topic but if he had a fever, would you hesitate to give him Tylenol or Motrin to bring it down? It's the same principle.

Amber takes her meds on school mornings, and a double dose at 6:30 pm. She can concentrate in school and she's asleep by 9pm (can you way WOW!) she's rested in the morning and can concentrate during the day. I slack off on weekends and only have her take it during the day if she's acting up. She needs it at night tho. I don't want her completely dependent on the medication.

Some kids need to be tho. It depends on the severity of the ADD and what you and your DR. decide what is best for your child. Your doc is a quide - you're with your kid all the time, te doctor is there to help you make that time easier for both of you. If he's not willing to listen and work with you then find one that will.

Again - Good luck and God Bless.

katika 05-05-05 12:37 PM

Just a thought : I read somewhere that homework for a 1st grader should take no more than 20 minutes and that only within the first 20 minutes they absorb the new information fully. Working for hours at a time after your child had a full day of school seems too much for a seven-year-old. I wonder if he is also frustrated because he is simply exhausted by a full day at school and then having hours of homework. This has happened to my daughter in both 1st and now in 2nd grade. If your child would receive special education services, maybe he could be working on the incomplete activity with the special ed teacher one-on-one during school time. This strategy has worked for my child. Hang in there, and be careful that the teachers don't set up your child for failure. Reward always works better than punishment: I reward my child for trying hard with homework as opposed to whether she gets the assignment or completes it completely. I always write a little note to the teacher if we can't finish the homework page and/or pick an alternate (easier) exercise for her and just attach it to the homework. For example, my child barely knows to subtract one digit numbers and now they want her to do subtracting by groups of hundreds. I told the teacher no, first she learns the basics. Why push her to the next level when she doesn't get the first step? Hang in there, you are your child's best advocate and sometimes teacher's just don't want to do the extra work.

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