Need ADHD homework strategies

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by BestICan, Dec 14, 2008.

  1. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    Hi all,

    With my difficult child's seizure disorder well under control for years now, it's become extremely clear that he has ADHD. therapist, who knows him well and runs camps and therapy groups for kids with ADHD, says difficult child is just textbook. I think that's all the diagnosis I need but if we decide to medicate I'm sure there will be a more formal process to go through.

    This year he is in a school (3rd grade) that demands a lot, organizationally, from the kids. They switch from classroom to classroom, they're expected to write down assignments and keep worksheets and assignments with them throughout the day, then bring them home. Teachers do not check to see that students have written down assignments correctly, but they do post assignments online so that parents can check up on it.

    Before the online assignment system was put in place, we found out to our shock that he had only handed in 50% of his math homework over the course of 3 months. difficult child was as shocked as the rest of us.

    difficult child has gotten a tiny bit better, but he struggles with it. He constantly forgets assignments. Based on what I can tell, he has significantly misrepresented or misunderstood what was assigned for a long-term project, and ended up with a poor grade on it. Even when he does the homework, he often can't remember to hand it in. At the end of the day, he can't remember whether or not he's handed in his homework (We check before he leaves school, and 90% of the time he hasn't handed it in).

    His grades are OK but below his potential. He is very motivated to do well in school, but I fear he'll be struggling with the organizational aspect for a long time to come, and I'd like to get some strategies in place now to set him up for a better chance at long-term success. I believe part of the problem is that he has a really rough time absorbing assignments that are given verbally. Either he's not paying attention when the assignments are given or it's just "in one ear, out the other."

    Not to sound cliche, but he's so smart, and I hate to see him waste his potential. What homework strategies have worked for you? (Feel free to talk about medication as well; we're open to it.)


  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator


    He's going to need some home/school support for assignment keeping... perhaps a book where he writes the assignment down and it is signed off by both teacher and parent? Also, you need to be emailed all special instructions for projects including deadlines... this way you can help break it down into manageable chunks. The other thing he will need is an adult to verify that everything makes it into his book bag at the end of the day.

    At home, make sure he has a defined area for his school stuff and an uncluttered study area. Some kids do better in a quiet area while some do better in the main living area. Make sure he has a snack and a few minutes to unwind after school. Duckie and I usually use this time to touch base and go over what needs to be done. Then I make sure she has a realistic plan to get her work done. I try to only be available and have her do the work, which I double check. I find it's easier not to hover if I have something separate that I'm working on.

    Good luck. This is an area that Duckie struggles with as well, though it's not considered a real problem quite yet in second grade.
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Third grade is very young for these expectations. I have my students start keeping an assignment notebook in 4th grade. There are several of my 4th and 5th graders who struggle with this organizational piece. For those children I make sure that they check in with me (or an aide or spec. ed teacher) each day before leaving. I double check that they have written down their assignments and that they have all of their materials. Then they head straight to their back packs so nothing gets forgotten.
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Does your difficult child have an IEP? If not, it's time to start the ball rolling to get some school-based support in place for him.

    A couple of resources that might give you other ideas for homework strategies:

    Additude magazine (
    Books by Edward Hallowell or Russell Barkley (search on through the site)

    Good luck.
  5. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    Thanks, guys. I've been poking around the additudemag site and thinking on this a bit. I do think he's a bit young for these expectations - I know this wasn't expected of 3rd graders in the school he attended last year. Our therapist also suggested that I ask the teacher to help check his homework and backpack, and your comments are reinforcing that. Unfortunately I think I'll get resistance from the teacher on this one, mostly because she's a bit disorganized herself and because the culture of this school is about letting kids figure things out for themselves.

    I'm *really* tired of hearing from teachers, "Oh, it's just a 'gifted kid thing'", which it isn't, I know plenty of gifted kids who don't have these issues. And, "he'll figure it out eventually," which I'm sure is reasonably true, but with a ton of struggling and stress, and god knows how much time.

    I think, Smallworld, that you're right, and I should be moving forward with an IEP, meaning starting at square one with the pediatrician and moving on from there. We had such a frustrating time trying to get a 504 for him earlier (related to the seizure disorder) - we failed at doing that. Maybe with a new school and going through a different doctor for a different disorder, it won't be so awful this time around.

    Thanks again.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    That IS a lot to expect of a third grader. They don't start implementing this in our district until 4th grade.

    FWIW, my gifted 6th grade difficult child has the SAME problems. Doesn't remember to write things down, doesn't remember to turn assignments in. Working way below his potential in several areas. Some weeks he does GREAT. Some weeks he does dismally poor.

    I've asked that difficult child be put on a planner contract of sorts. Essentially, the teacher must review his planner at the end of the day and initial it to ensure he hasn't missed anything. Afterall, I can't help him do work that I don't know about. My 8th grader is doing something similar at school getting teacher signatures for his core subjects. It's a lot of hand holding, but he still needs this because he doesn't have the organizational skills to do it himself yet.

    As for medications, we now use the Daytrana patch for both difficult child's. It seems to be released very steadily throughout the day, and you can control when it stops to a certain degree. I find, though, that once it's applied, it can take an hour or more before we notice it starting to work. So in the mean time, difficult child 1 has to take short-acting Focalin first in the morning, and then about an hour later I give him the patch to put on. By the time the Focalin wears off, the patch is starting to kick in. We usually see about 10 hours or so of coverage.
  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I agree that it's time to begin IEP testing. Actually, ADHD can qualify a child for a 504. It's usually easier and quicker to get this, so you may want to go ahead and call a meeting for that purpose. The IEP process can take several months.

    In the meantime, your son can have a 504 that requests his teachers to provide him with either written homework assignments or the requirement that they check to make sure he has them written down himself (sign their initials next to his assignments and then you sign it as well in the evening to show you have checked his assignment requirements - shows you will be an active partner with the teacher). Naturally it's tougher to inforce the 504, but it's a start.

    Perhaps another idea would be to speak to his main teacher and find a time to meet with all of his teachers at one time. Let them know he has been diagnosis'd with adhd and that disorganization issues are classic symptoms. Request their help (in other words, appeal to them rather than demand of them) in helping your son succeed. My son had to start writing down his assignments in third grade as well - nightmare for an impulsive, disorganized adhd kid!

    Does the school use one of those internet communications systems like blackboard, or schoolnotes and such? My difficult child's middle school uses that and three of his teachers post homework, tests, etc. It's a great way for a parent of our disorganized kids to keep abreast of what is going on.

  8. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    In documenting the need for accommodations/services (proving the disability has impact on the ability to access education), one of the most helpful documents we handed our IEP team was a daily homework log. A homework log kept by the parent(s) includes date, subject matters, amount of time homework took, whether the child completed the homework, any reactions by child (for example, meltdowns, getting up and down from seat), whether child brought all materials home, whether child had difficulty understanding concepts. This log demonstrates educational impact that the school can't necessarily see.

    We also obtained a letter (our psychiatrists have called theirs "Psychiatric School Summary") written by the prescribing physician detailing clinical history, diagnosis, treatment (both medications and therapy) and school accommodations/services the doctor felt would be helpful to the child.
  9. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    you have my sympathy.

    My "homework issue child" is in 12th grade now. It's always a struggle. What works one year doesn't work the next. We've tried everything - Franklin planners (the school assigned ones were too small). Voice recorders (he lost it). Emailing me his homework (can't do that at his current school).

    Last year was the worst - he didn't hand in a long term assignment and managed to knock himself out of AP English because of it.

    He really tries. It's just too many steps - hearing it assigned, bringing it home, doing it, putting it back in the book bag, getting it back to school, and handing it in. It can fall apart at any point.

    It also doesn't help that his father (my ex) refuses to have him identified and therefore eligible for a 504. I have talked with individual teachers over the years, however, and some have cooperated anyway.

    I'm sorry I don't have the answers. I have lots of suggestions.................
  10. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    Thanks for all your great suggestions! I spoke with his teacher today who was quite agreeable to checking his homework list and his backpack every day. Bless her heart! She gave me a really nice pep talk about difficult child's good qualities and told me (in so many words) that she was worried that medicating him for ADHD would affect his personality, make him less dynamic or take away his spark. Obviously it's a HUGE can of worms, and obviously she doesn't get a vote. But I applaud her for being honest and caring, and, most of all, it's so nice to hear positive words about difficult child. One gets a little worn down from having the OTHER kind of conversation with the teachers, Know what I mean??
  11. lillians

    lillians lillians

    the home work strageties that worked here are ,,no homework,period,,other than maybe 15 minutes worth,i felt our son was so burnt out by the end of the day from sitting and staring at a teacher whose mouth went up and down saying he knew not what,, he did better with what ever the teachers wrote on the board,,and then it was out in the hallway with a desk they set up,,and do his home work there of course this was how the iep wa s set up,,, he still cant get homework done,, does he work up to his potential no never will and thats a fact to live with sad but true,, he is 17 is graduating and with a job to go to,, he will graduate with 65-75 percent and is capable of 95,, but doesnt do homework or hand in assignments on time,, his teachers are all aware of who he is,and work with him,, its not easy for them and i say God bless all the teachers that try
  12. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    Adhd is a handicap to all areas of life if the learner is not achieving with their strengths toward the details for academic excellence.

    If the schooling years are not supporting a learner, especially one who shows
    potentials, to achieve academic excellence when?

    The IQ testing offer insights as to HOW the clearly bright is learning AND
    what areas are the log jam.(IEP or 504 the start is the FULL evaluation)

    An adhd learner is not like a bacterial infection where one prescription fits all.

    The main reason that teachers are not effective is that they are not aware or motivated to apply the meathods that they surely do have the ability to reasearch and apply in classrooms. Or the learning deficit is not fully understood and therefor NEGLECTED.

    Meanwhile the learner...and we are talking about children IS LEARNING...and they use their imaginations to fill in the blanks. Children BLAME themselves for
    everything, because they are the center of their universe . As they should be.
    Yet it is the adults who guide and direct and correct the assumptions a child
    imagins, some quite predictably and others are just so amazing. We really do not know how any other is 'putting it together' unless they tell or show or
    express it to us in a way that we "get".

    An adhd learner who is not completing work and is not recieving the benefits of their contribution for grading will "feel dumb". They will feel they are not
    productive and the self esteem pieces between the lack of success in the work required, the constant sound of their name ringing in a classroom and while it is so the social recriminations of their peers who will remark critically to them about their insensitivity to others around them (the impulsivity).

    What I did was to read EVERYTHING recommended to me and more about my childs condition. I absorbed all the test results and used those evidenced based findings to push,prod, ply, engender intrest, devise stradigy, implement, follow up and NEVER SAY UNCLE. When the teachers hedged I invited them to retest if they were so ding dang certain that the lossest potential was not the bottom tolerable grade for work.

    For a learner who is treated to attend school for 7+hours 5days per week
    how much assigned work is needed after the 35 hour school week? Can the completions be pursued in class or in an appropriate alternative setting at the school?

    Distractablity was an ongoing issue and the solutions proved to be:
    finding setting that was close to the teacher so that the name call out was not an everyday thing. Use non-verbal prompts, a touch on the shoulder, a look in the eye to redirect (one wise teacher, they are out there, put her desk to the side of her class with my son near her and in the back corner of the room and lectured from the front by the board. This way HE could see the whole class and not turn in his seat away from the instruction to look at others during the teaching time)

    An alternative room where he could focus without the distractions of others to complete assigned work. \
    Use of a corral. Ideal for the adhd as the front and sides are blocked. My son
    seeks out the desk facing a wall when left to his own devised to complete work.
    Breaks in the learning time. Running during recess was organised by one principle who was also addressing the obesity and lack of activity students in general have. A alternative activity for classtime when whatever is not working for the adhd...once it was sitting in the hall to read and also having an active role in the class like wiping the board, sweeping, or taking some papers to another teacher or the office.
    Absolutely would not tolerate that a effective and persistant effort to complete all assigned work during school hours be avoided.
    For the adhd learner, who will not want to redo one thing, having a teacher require rewrites of work that has been turned in and is not correct not only informs the learner what is the teachers expectation but it ends the rediculas practise of critising errors and then admiring the low grades acheived. Yes, I am suggesting that teachers correct DRAFTS and there by TEACH the children what to do to get the work done correctly. It worked magic on my adhd.
    (he gets As now, by the was not easy, Ladies and gentlemen, I was not the favorite site of the school employed. I spent some time in the middleschool office in conversation with the principle about the value of A over
    muttling along at c,d,b,d,ect.)

    Plan to educate the teachers about what you DO want for your child in each area, behavor, academics, social, ect.

    EAch child brings specific needs to their environment and the environment that is adapting to teach is 'working'

    When the learner gets involved (gets the knack and the self acceptance that "I CAN do it") they sit themselves down and they do their own work and they struggle at it and YOU are only a resourse. The extra library materials, the
    special paper ect, the report folder.

    My adhd learner is a success. I can not tell you how many meetings and how many phone calls and how many hours I did spend. But that report card with the solid A and a couple other letters, hey, that was all my adhd. They said he would never learn math (freshman year pysicis) they said he would always struggle with english (honors As) His chemistry teacher said "exempery student".

    So, yeah, do not be intimidated. Praise the teachers as you go. Be in there.
  13. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    And tutors. My son was all business when a tutor was involved. The one on one help that I arranged as well as the tutoring he received through the school.

    The school had a policy where only the below c group received tutoring.
    Change policy.

    When the child succeeds it builds. The better you understand what the childs strengths are and build the supports for the weaknesses the more they shine.

    The adhd doesn't go away. The person with adhd has content and they learn to be accomidating as we are accomidating toward them.
  14. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    Thanks, lillians and ropefree, for sharing your experiences. This thread has been really valuable to me (as I sit here and deep breathe while watching my son draw pictures on his math homework, sharpen his pencil 15 times, and have a long dialogue with an eraser...sigh...).

    Rope, the physical activity component is such a good idea. I'd forgotten how difficult child's teacher made the class run laps before the start of every school day last year. Hmmm....wonder if that had anything to do with last year being his best year since Kindergarten :)
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Ropefree's suggestion of a carrel is a very good one. You can make one fairly easily out of cardboard; it doesn't take much more effort to make a carrel top to fit a desk which can also be used to attach a small clock, or reference notes, or a sample of the specific problem being worked on.

    Headphones are good, to deal with the music issue. Also good - mindmapping, especially with any writing tasks. Look it up online, there are a lot of good references. But you need to learn how to do it so you can help difficult children learn how. They really saved difficult child 1 when it came to managing writing tasks. Perhaps ask the teacher to help teach him this one?