The Art of Balancing: How to manage homework and afterschool activities when your child has ADHD

By Dr. Mary Rooney, Ph.D.

For kids with ADHD balancing homework with interests in sports, music, art or other after-school activities can be a challenge. Homework takes longer to complete when you have ADHD – sometimes hours longer, leading many parents to feel like their child simply doesn’t have time to participate in extracurricular activities. However, studies show that kids who participate in after-school activities actually do better academically than those who don’t participate. For kids with ADHD, these activities also teach important social skills that can help strengthen their relationships with classmates and friends. When the afterschool activities involve sports, they also provide an outlet for the physical activity that many kids with ADHD crave. On top of this, for many kids, scoring a goal or landing a role in a play can be an extraordinary confidence boost that finds its way into all aspects of their life, especially if the challenges of ADHD have them struggling academically. So how do you support your child and ensure he or she thrives in both school and in extracurricular activities?

  1. Create a calendar. Many kids with ADHD struggle with organization, but staying organized is essential when you’re working with a tight after school schedule and competing priorities. Be a role model for your child and begin teaching organizational skills that will help him or her throughout life. Start by posting a calendar at home that shows both your child’s homework assignment deadlines and afterschool activities (practice, games, performances, etc.). Involve your child in updating the calendar every time a new event or deadline needs to be added.
  2. Schedule homework time. Set aside designated time for homework each day.  Your child already understands the concept of blocking out scheduled time for practice and games. Extend this same concept to homework, where dedicated blocks of time are scheduled in advance throughout the week. Add these time blocks to your calendar and remind your child that he or she needs to fit homework into these slots in order to participate in all of the fun activities he or she also has on the calendar.
  3. Plan proactively. When your child has a full schedule, there is less room wiggle room for cramming in last minute assignments and study sessions. If a big test is coming up at the end of the week, help your child plan ahead and break test prep down into smaller chucks that he or she can fit into the pre-scheduled homework time blocks. Planning ahead is a challenge for many kids with ADHD, so your child will need your help to learn this technique. It can be a good idea to get into the habit of helping him or her check the classroom’s online homework assignment system regularly so he or she is less likely to be surprised by an upcoming project deadline or exam.
  4. Enlist A Tutor. Learning centers are designed to help teach children study skills that will help them get their work completed more efficiently and effectively.  Look for centers, like Huntington Learning Centers, where instructors are experienced in helping kids with ADHD.
  5. Make participation a privilege that comes with meeting homework goals. Participation in extracurricular activities can be a powerful motivator when participation is linked to reaching homework goals. Let your child know that he or she can only participate if he or she consistently completes homework, and don’t have missed assignments regularly. This can go a long way in helping kids with ADHD prioritize their assignments and cut out distractions when time is short. Note that the goals should be focused on homework completion (effort) rather than homework grades (performance), since kids can generally control whether or not they get their work done, but they can’t always control the grade they receive – and this is especially true for kids with ADHD whose effort isn’t always reflected in their grades.

Balancing school and extracurriculars is more art than science, but it’s worth the time to find a balance that works for your family.


 

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.

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