Creating Homework Stations for Kids with ADHD

By Dr. Mary Rooney, Ph.D.

Like it or not homework is about to become part of your child’s daily routine when school starts back up in the fall. For kids with ADHD, getting into the habit of doing homework is never easy. Fortunately, parents can help make the adjustment a little less painful by having a homework station filled with supplies and ready to go by the first day of school. Creating a homework station that works for kids with ADHD means considering their unique organizational, motivational, and attention-related challenges when planning the location, the supplies, and the clutter control strategies.

Location
Kids who don’t have ADHD may be able to sit down in any corner of the house or bedroom and get their homework completed without any problem. But, when a child has ADHD, it’s a different story. Where he or she does homework can have a big impact on how quickly and accurately he or she gets it done.

  • Monitoring: Kids with ADHD need to be monitored during homework time. Without supervision, they are much more likely to procrastinate instead of getting started right away, and once they do get started they will lose focus more quickly. Monitoring and supervising your child doesn’t mean sitting next to him or her during homework time, but it does mean being someplace where your child can see you and where you can check-in while he or she is working.
  • Consistency: Every child’s homework station is different, and kids with ADHD may have some unique preferences – some may prefer to stand while they work, others may be most comfortable working on the floor instead of sitting at a desk. But all kids with ADHD should do their work in the exact same spot every day. They will quickly come to associate this “homework spot” with homework time, making it easier for them to transition quickly from play time to work time. Having a consistent “homework spot” also eliminates nightly time-wasting arguments or negotiations with kids about where they will be doing their homework.

Supplies
Making sure that every homework supply your child needs is readily available at his or her homework station is important for kids with ADHD. Why? Searching for supplies and sharpening pencils are two of the most popular (and most effective!) homework procrastination strategies! Wondering which supplies to include? Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Sharpened pencils (at least 5 well sharpened pencils)
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser (one that works well)
  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • Paper (printer paper & lined loose-leaf paper)
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Ruler
  • Timer (setting time limits and time goals will be an important part of the homework routine)
  • Clock
  • A place to hang their backpack near their homework station
  • Access to a computer nearby
  • A large hard surface as a work area
  • A comfortable chair (based on your child’s preferences)

Clutter-Free Organization
Clutter is a huge distraction for kids with ADHD, especially when they are doing homework. Maintaining a clutter-free homework area will help your child get started on homework quickly and stay on task. It will also make it much easier to notice when he or she is running low on supplies or has managed to misplace or break all his or her pencils (again!).  

   
via Simple Made Pretty                                          via Apartment Therapy

  • Create an organized supply system: All kids would benefit from an organized supply system, but for kids with ADHD organization is practically essential. Instead of using a single shoebox, supply bin, or drawer to store their supplies, use individual cups, bins or a divided tray. Label each compartment with the supplies that should be included. If your child doesn’t have a dedicated desk and will be working at the kitchen table or on the floor with a lap desk, then use a supply caddy with labeled compartments that he or she can move to and from the homework location each day. Just remember to place only one type of supply in each compartment and use labels liberally.
  • Create a clutter-clean up routine: The best way to manage clutter is to prevent it from building up in the first place. As part of your child’s homework routine, have him or her put all his or her supplies away, throw out loose papers, and sharpen the pencils as soon as his or her homework is finished. This way the workspace will be well stocked and clutter-free the next time your child sits down to do homework.

Having your child’s homework station set up and ready to go by the start of the school year will help him or her transition more smoothly into a daily homework routine. Having clear expectations around homework and putting a homework “when-then” plan into place are also essential for homework success. In my next post I’ll be talking about strategies for simple and effective homework plans you can start using right away.


 

ABOUT DR. MARY ROONEY

Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.

ABOUT HUNTINGTON

Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.

This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.

Article Topics

Stay in touch and sign up for our newsletter