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Homework Hassles and ADHD

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Children, in general, have trouble concentrating on their homework, but the task is especially challenging for kids with attention disorders. Psychologist Thomas J. Power, Ph.D., director of the Center for Management of ADHD at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has found that establishing good study habits in early grades helps kids throughout their school years. Dr. Power, who coauthored a new book, Homework Success for Children With ADHD, offers these tips for parents of kids in grades 1 through 6:

  • Arrange to meet with both your child's teacher and therapist to identify areas of concern. Ask the teacher how long she expects your child to work on an assignment. If she says half an hour, for example, ask her if your child can do his best for 30 minutes and turn in that work.
  • Provide a distraction-free space and supervise your child without hovering. Maybe she can work while you pay bills in the same room.
  • Agree on a regular study time. Talk to your child about when he is best able to concentrate -- this may be connected to his medication schedule -- and be consistent about doing homework in that period.
  • Divide and conquer. Separate assignments into chunks with finite time limits. It helps motivate your child to see an endpoint. Between work periods, she can take a short break to stretch or get a drink.
  • Provide positive reinforcement for each achievement. Dr. Powers suggests giving your child points that he can accumulate and exchange for privileges like a trip to the zoo.

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Copyright © 2002. Reprinted with permission from the March 2002 issue of Child magazine.