Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ADHD, Common Advice, and the Homework Omission

Here is an article in Psychology Today that offers good, common advice on ADHD (5 Strategies to Help Your Child Combat ADHD). As with so many articles on ADHD, it skirts the all-important, and often devastating problem of unrelenting homework pressure. Dr. Turner does a good job reviewing what is commonly known and making it available for the general public, but let's take a deeper look at the homework dilemma.

Set clear behavioral expectations: One of the most important, and likely to succeed, behavioral expectations is "work on your homework for one half hour, but only one half hour." 

Write things down: Absolutely. But when does the to-do list get put away for the day?

Provide frequent positive attention: Without doubt. One of the problems for homework-trapped children is that no matter how positive you are, you're in a bind if 50% of the work is done, failure is around the corner, and it is really time to call it quits.

Talk with your child's teacher: Yes, but from what perspective? The comments in this article talk about what happens in the classroom. Absolutely talk with the teacher about in-class accommodations and defer to that teacher's decisions and judgment about what can be done. But what about talking to the teacher about what happens in your home, your child's need for you to be in charge of your home, and to make the final decision about the homework to be done?

Appropriately manage medication: Yes, talk with your child's doctor. Consider the need for medication during the school day. But, also, be careful about the pressure to medicate your child through the afternoon and evening, interrupting appetite and sleep, because decisions are being made, in your home, about what your child must do when he gets home.

We need to add some uncommon ideas about homework to the more well-known ideas about helping a child who has ADHD.


Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Teachers, and Students, published by Wyndmoor Press.

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