Five Tips to Motivate Children with ADHD

By Huntington Learning Center

For parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it can be very challenging to figure out exactly what motivates their students to study and complete homework. CEO & Co-Founder Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center says that parents should help their children get to know themselves as students and embrace techniques that work for them. “While parents will find it difficult, if not impossible, to change their children’s behavior, modifications to their study habits and learning environment are far more likely to be helpful,” says Huntington. To motivate children to strive toward academic success, she suggests these five tips:

  1. Establish good organizational habits. Nothing will hamper an ADHD child’s ability to succeed like weak organizational skills. At a minimum, children must maintain an orderly desk and backpack and create a reliable system for keeping track of papers and making sure they hand in all work. Parents should keep an eye on their children’s organizational skills and work with them to make adjustments whenever needed.
  2. Follow a schedule. Time management can be hard for the ADHD student. A student planner with all test and project due dates is a must, but more important are the habits of using such a tool. Parents should help their children get used to estimating how long tasks will take and planning their time accordingly. They should also teach their children to pull out the planner at the beginning and ending of every class and record all assignments, due dates and other reminders.
  3. Write it down. Whether an ADHD student has a smartphone or a paper planner, it’s critical that he or she gets into the habit of writing down important things the moment the student hears them. Parents can teach their children to keep a pad of sticky notes on them at all times, make good use of the reminder function on their phone or use some other method. Having a master to-do list (in addition to a more structured schedule in the day planner) is a good starting point when students set out to create a daily action plan.
  4. Break tasks down. Learning to prioritize homework can be difficult for ADHD students. It’s best to divide longer, harder assignments into smaller steps that students can assign themselves and check off one at a time. This type of approach gives students manageable to-dos, which discourages procrastination and is less daunting.
  5. Adopt the right study habits. Parents must help their children recognize the way they study and learn best and stick to those habits. It’s important to remember that an ADHD student’s preferred study methods are likely different than those of his or her parents. This is fine and to be expected. The point is that children need to do what is most effective for them. ADHD students with strong impulsive/hyperactive tendencies might work best when pacing or sitting on a balance ball. Those with mainly inattentive type ADHD likely focus best in a distraction-free room. It’s wise to test out different approaches and pay attention to what does and doesn’t work.

It can be a challenge to find ways to successfully motivate children with ADHD, but Huntington reminds parents that establishing good routines is key. “It takes practice for children with ADHD to stay on top of established habits, but with diligence, these students will be successful,” she says. “With each small accomplishment, they feel good about what they have achieved and motivated to sustain those positive feelings.”

If you are the parent of an ADHD child who needs help motivating to do his or her best work in school or is otherwise struggling, call Huntington at 1 800 CAN-LEARN.  

About Huntington

Huntington 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 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.  Learn how Huntington can help at For franchise opportunities please visit  

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