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Friday, January 24, 2014

Six Tips for Avoiding Homework Distractions for Kids with ADHD

From Smart Kids with LD

January 21, 2014

ADDitude, the magazine devoted to helping people live well with attention deficits, ended the year with a list of their top articles for 2013. Among the articles listed is Homework Help for ADHD, a topic that parents cannot get enough of.

The article touts a homework system that includes helpful strategies such as getting teachers on board, establishing routines at home, and acting as your child’s “coach.” But additionally, the article contains an invaluable sidebar with tips for minimizing distractions—the real homework bugaboo for kids with ADHD.

Drawing on experience from her two children with ADHD, Melinda Boring put together a list, excerpted below, of her six favorite strategies to help minimize distractions.

1. Move Around. Walking around or marching while studying helps maintain a child’s focus. Some children do better with their book in hand as they pace, using it as a reference to check information as they memorize it.

2. Speak Out Loud. Talking out loud adds auditory support to the information a child is studying. This improves recall. It is easy for ADHD students to look at a page and “read” it without focusing seriously on the material. By speaking study material aloud, the student forces his attention to stay on task.

3. Fidget. Studying at school, without the opportunity for short breaks, is unbearable for most children with ADHD. When a student can’t get up and move around, “fidget items” can provide small, controlled movements that increase attention or calm him down, as needed.

4. Change Position. Have your student use a sitting disk, instead of a chair, when he is doing written work such as an essay or filling out a study guide. This sturdy, lightweight, portable cushion fits on top of a chair seat, or it can be placed on the floor. The gentle, controlled motion of the disk satisfies a child’s need for movement without distracting him.

5. Work in Bursts. Children with ADHD struggle to maintain attention when doing activities that don’t interest them. Working intensively for short periods of time will be more productive for them.

6. Shift Subjects. “Shifting” is not multitasking: It is having a student work on a subject until his attention starts drifting. When it drifts, the student works on a different subject. A child may have to shift back and forth between assignments several times before the work is completed.

Giving the ADHD student a mental break from one subject area by starting another is the key to being productive.

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