If you are a parent of a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and you have big time problems with homework, explore these seven questions with your child to create the best environment for him or her to succeed.
Understanding how your child's brain functions will help you find the strategies that work best.
When we are interested in something and are good at it, such as math or English, interest stimulates the brain and aids focusing. For people with ADHD the greater the passion the easier it is to pay attention. Kids who have an interest may be a walking encyclopedia for their favorite topic, like dinosaurs or basketball, but hopeless about school. The problems arise with subjects that are not interesting and may be particularly difficult for your child.
New research supports this experiential evidence.
Recent research has identified two separate areas in the brain which are used to focus attention. The parietal cortex reacts to external stimuli; the prefrontal cortex is active when you must choose what to pay attention to.
The prefrontal cortex is the brain part that is used for executive functions like deciding, planning and activating and is under active in ADHD. It is the last part of the brain to reach full maturity (that's why Hertz and Avis don't rent cars to people under age 25). Children with ADHD may be two to three years behind their age peers in mental maturity, but they do get there.
How can you use this information to help your child do his homework?
Your job, Mom and Dad, is to provide the environment that works for your child.
You do not want to do it for him or be dogmatic about how, where or when he should do his homework. But you do need to provide more structure and organizational assistance than for other children of his age.
Talk and explore with her to discover what kind of stimulation works best to help her brain stay focused, every child is different. Your goal is to provide en environment which provides the right stimulation for her unique brain.
Seven questions for you to explore.
1. When does he work best? He probably needs some exercise and a snack after school before settling down to do homework. A snack should include some protein for fuel for the brain.
2. Where does he work best? Does he work best alone in his room with no distractions or does he work better in an open area with some noise and movement around to provide stimulation? Does background music of his choosing help him stay on task?
3. Does he need to move often? Let him work in small chunks and take a short break to jump a bit between chunks. Explore using a rocking chair or a rubber ball seat.
4. Is he an aural or visual learner? Our modern world is expressed mostly through visual media, but some people learn better aurally. If your child is an aural learner have him work out loud recording his lessons on a tape recorder.
5. Is he a verbal or a graphic learner? Some children work better with pictures than with words. Let him use his creativity to illustrate his lessons with pictures cut from old magazines or his own drawings. Provide colored pens and highlighters to make his notes stimulating to look at.
6. Does he have a problem with time? Many people with ADHD have an elastic sense of time. Have your child practice measuring the time he needs to do each assignment. Prepare a chart on which he can record estimated time, start time, end time, elapsed time , and the difference from estimated time for each assignment.
7. Does he have difficulty starting? Some children with ADHD see tasks as one big overwhelming cloud. They need help finding where to begin. Talk with him about the steps he needs to accomplish starting with very simple actions like open your book, read the first problem.
Most important! Enjoy! Have fun! Tell a silly joke before he starts or when he takes a break. This may sound paradoxical, but laughing lowers the stress level for you and your child.
Courage! Graduation will be here sooner than you think.
Sarah Jane Keyser is an ADHD coach with an international practice who helps adults and adolescents find joy and fulfillment with ADHD. Feel free to use this article as long as you include author's bio and a live link to her website.
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