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ADHD and Homework: How Can I Help My Son Improve Focus?

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Updated June 22, 2012

Question: ADHD and Homework: How Can I Help My Son Improve Focus?
ADHD and homework can be a tough pairing, as one reader shares:

“Our son has trouble sitting and completing his homework. Over the past year, we have noticed a rapid decline in his ability to stay on task and focus on completing small assignments. He is currently on medication. I would like to know of any other non-medicinal strategies that might help improve focus.” --About.com Reader

Answer:

Lots of people find that exercise helps with focus. Some parents even find success structuring the time the kids get home from school so they have some physical exercise and outdoor play before sitting down to do homework.

It can also help to schedule in frequent breaks during the homework time that allow for your son to get up and move around to help refocus. Some kids like taking control of this by using a timer and setting it to go off every 20 minutes, then taking a 5-minute break, then resetting the timer for 20 more minutes of work (or whatever amount of time works best for them).

You may also want to talk with the teacher about modifying the assignments so they are shorter. Some people do well with background noise or music, others prefer quiet. Make sure the homework area has everything your son needs to do his work right there (pencils, paper, ruler, pencil sharpener, etc.) and is free from distractions, as well as clutter. A healthy snack that satiates and fends off any hunger will help keep your son from being distracted by a growling stomach. During homework time, your son may need you nearby to help provide him with external support and refocus him when he wanders.

Make sure your son is also getting the sleep he needs. Lack of sleep, which is sometimes an issue for individuals with ADHD, can certainly worsen symptoms and make it harder to focus. Additionally, be sure to talk with your son’s doctor about his declining ability to focus.

Read more:
Homework Help
Homework and ADHD

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