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How to help kids with ADHD focus on school at home

How To Help Your Kid With ADHD Focus on Schoolwork at Home

start with a distraction-free space

If you didn’t already know it, you certainly do now: Your child’s teacher is a saint.

ADHD may make your kiddo resourceful, explosively creative, an outside-the-box thinker—and a handful to homeschool (especially if you’re trying to get your own work done too).

For guidance, we turned to Leslie Vasquez and Mellie Joiner, director and curriculum director, respectively, of Key School in Fort Worth. They work with students who have learning differences, and offer these tips to help kids with ADHD focus on their schoolwork at home.

Choose a workspace carefully

To focus on academics, kids need a workspace free of distractions—and that involves more than the objects around them.

“Think about traffic flow in the home, what is going on outside the windows, what is in their line of sight from where they are sitting,” Vasquez advised in an email. Set them up for success, not a battle for their attention every time somebody wanders by.

If your child is easily distracted by sounds, invest in a white noise app or noise-canceling headphones.

“Another consideration is the arrangement of the learning space,” Vasquez and Joiner offer. “Does your child need to stand up while they work? Do they need space to wander while they think? Do they need to sprawl out with all of their materials in front of them?”

Adjust the space accordingly, and make sure all the supplies they might need are gathered together and easily accessible.

Schedule work and help sessions

“Having a schedule and a routine is often very helpful for students with ADHD,” Vasquez and Joiner explain. “Knowing that if they complete 15 minutes of classwork and then they will get a quick break is often a great motivator.”

They add that by conquering “small, manageable chunks” your child may develop the willingness and confidence to complete longer tasks.

Consider getting a physical timer or a timer app so that your child can see how much time they have left.

After all, you might not be able to micromanage your child—especially if you’re working remotely too. So take advantage of their teacher’s virtual office hours, and schedule other times that your kiddo can ask you for help. Vasquez and Joiner recommend making those times frequent, “even if it is just a couple of minutes at a time to check in with them and let them know that what they are doing is important.”

What happens if you’re on a work call when they need help? Prep for that possibility in advance by making sure they have access to any online resources their teacher has provided, or even educational games that can keep them entertained until you’re able to step away.

Encourage movement and breaks

“Expecting them to complete long, arduous tasks without breaks will typically lead to frustration on everyone’s part,” say Vasquez and Joiner. “If they are not allowed to get up and move at least a couple of times per hour, their brains easily slip into overload.”

The two educators also suggest alternating between passive activities (staring at a computer screen, working math problems) and more energetic ones (chasing the dog around the backyard). “This helps stimulate blood flow and changes things up so that they can stay focused,” they explain.

Give them grace … and give yourself grace, too

This situation is new for you and your kids, so cut everybody some slack (yourself included).

“This is a deviation from the norm, and things that were easy in the past may cause your child to struggle more than usual… and that is OK,” according to Vasquez and Joiner. “Give them grace and have patience and walk away from frustrating tasks if needed. They can always come back to it later.”

Ask your kid what’s working and what isn’t, and be flexible.

And if they’re struggling, and you’re struggling, turn to the best resource you have: your child’s teacher. Remember, they’re on the front lines five days a week—and they also want what’s best for your kid.

Image courtesy of iStock.