Back to School and Back to Homework for your ADHD Student


Back to school and back to school for ADHD student


It’s the first week of school and you and your student are not ready to buckle down for homework.  With less structure and more free time, homework is an unhappy addition to going to school all day.  The first week of school is an important time for year-long homework success.  It’s time to set up a successful homework time and station for your ADHD student.  Here’s how to make homework time work for you both.


What most ADHD students need

ADHD students struggle with organizing and planning, getting started and getting finished, taking more time to complete work, and turning in homework.  As you plan for homework time, be sure these needs are met during homework time.


What works and what doesn’t

Last year’s homework successes and struggles are a great starting point to jump-start this year.  Coach your kids about what works for them, rather than tell them how.

Here’s topics to discuss

  • Are there organizing tools will they use for homework?
  • What are the possible organizing tools will they use for papers?
  • Where is a positive location and set up and location for their focus?
  • What are the times that  work best to complete their work?

While coaching, you can help by asking positive, engaging questions to set up structure for your student. Keep it simple with how to set up for success.

Organizing tools for homework can include a planner, post it notes, or a dry erase board.  For paper, your student can use an accordion file, pocket folders or binder with slash pockets.  Best locations for homework are the dining room and a study.  It’s easiest to get to work after a short break and a snack.


Distractions, interruptions and more

Here’s a variety of solutions for distractions, interruptions or trouble getting started.

  • Have a homework helper each afternoon to partner with your child.
  • Arrange study times with other kids, swapping spaces and moms to help with homework.
  • Use a timer to get your student started.
  • If you are away and your student is at home working, identify your student’s independent work  before you get home.

Real distraction, such as Instagram, texts and online browsing can be difficult to monitor. Internet blockers can help you student stay on track.


The real outcome is support. As you and your student head back to school and back to homework, you will both need support to feel successful about homework each day.  Reach out to local support with ADHD specialists, therapists, coaches and educators to make each afternoon a positive experience. Be sure to have an expansive team to support you both!


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4 replies
  1. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    Body doubling just seems to be amazingly helpful, for students and adults alike. That small bit of accountability of having someone nearby, working along, can help a lot. I love the point about identifying independent work ahead of time. This can get the homework session going without being too intimidating. Great to build a bit of confidence at the outset.

  2. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    I am seeing a lot of distraction at the adult level as well. Body doubling, timers, moving around for different subjects and focused times interspersed with breaks are all so helpful. I have to admit that I am wondering what impact technology is having on our attention span. Do you know of any research on this?

  3. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Great question! Here’s information from a recent Inc. article:

    The brain is learning about the timing of these actions. If you check your email every 20 minutes, then your brain knows that when you are sitting at your desk, your eyes should dart to the badge that signals that new emails have arrived about every 20 minutes. You engage visual attention to read the number of new emails and then decide whether to take the extra step to pull up the program and see what has come in.

    Add smart phone use and perhaps even social media into the mix, and you may be shifting your attention away from important tasks about every five minutes. You are not controlling this action consciously any more. Your brain has learned this timing and is trying to predict the optimal time to make these checks of your technology, so it interrupts your train of thought frequently to shift you toward incoming messages.

    Taken from

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