ADHD is not a hindrance to learning: 12 life hacks for children and parents

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes problems with the ability to keep track of time and stay organized. If your child has ADHD, it may not be their fault that they spend hours doing homework and end up losing their entire notebook. But do not give up hope: parents may well help their children to overcome this stage without doing all the work for them and not controlling every step. Teaching a child to self-organize, we teach him skills that will be useful not only in school, but will be used throughout his life. How? Check what you haven’t already done (spoiler alert: these tips work with regular kids too!).  

Organization of space

Children with ADHD need a predictable routine for homework. Determine a special place for your child to do their homework every day. Make sure it is away from pets, siblings, and noisy distractions such as the TV or front door. Check for pencils, pens, paper, and any other utensils that might “accidentally” distract you from your half-day assignment.  

It is believed that ADHD is a “western” diagnosis, but this syndrome is not so common in our country. And this is not true. According to epidemiological data, ADHD in varying degrees of severity is detected in almost every third primary school student, we just pay less attention to erased forms, referring them to “immaturity” or, even worse, to “bad manners”.

Keep a calendar

Big numbers are hard to miss, and reminders can help keep you focused. Take a really giant wall calendar and stick it where your child will see it many times a day: on the kitchen wall opposite a chair or next to his study table. Use colored markers or notes to indicate upcoming assignments and school holidays.

Meet with the teacher, psychologist and head teacher of the school to talk about your child’s characteristics and, if possible, enlist support. Ideally, this should be done before the start of the school year, but better late than never. Find out in advance the number of lessons, subjects, schedule. Check the possibility of psychological correction right at school.

Stay in touch with teachers, take advice into account, and even ask for guidance yourself. If you are lucky with an experienced teacher, they will only benefit. If not, at least the teacher will know that you are aware of the problem and are actively working on it. And even that kind of support means a lot.

Although ADHD is thought to be more of a problem in boys, new research has shown that gender does not affect incidence. The high frequency of ADHD symptoms in boys may be due to the prevalence of hyperactive ADHD and later puberty.

This means that a significant proportion of girls with ADHD (or without “H”, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are left without a diagnosis and, as a result, without the necessary help.

Graph is the foundation

Having a daily schedule is key for children with ADHD. They need to set a time for homework, dinner, and sleep. If you’re off schedule, start over tomorrow. Keeping a schedule on track will help your child, and will also reduce the number of requests, nagging, “explosions” and conflicts.

Use rewards

Generally, completing homework is like a battle, which means offering a reward for completing it. The rewards don’t have to be big, but they must be immediate. As soon as the child collects notebooks in a portfolio, invite him to read a fairy tale. Give him a sticker, some watching TV or playing on a tablet. Enter the time for rewards into your daily schedule and track not only the “battles”, but the moments of reward.

Break down big tasks

When a child starts getting big homework assignments – projects, read reports, or term papers – it can cause protests and problems. Break the entire process down into a series of small tasks, each with a due date. Teens with ADHD may need help scheduling large assignments and projects. Even for average adults it helps, so why not use it with kids?

Not all children with a diagnosis have early organic damage to the central nervous system, but in monozygotic twins, ADHD is detected in pairs in 76-100%.

And relatives of children with ADHD have a much higher frequency of symptoms of hyperactivity. If you see similar problems in yourself or other adults in the family, know that advice for children works with adults as well.

The presence of a history of factors of early organic damage to the central nervous system can not be detected in all patients with ADHD. An important role in the development of this syndrome belongs to hereditary factors. This is confirmed by a high degree of concordance for ADHD in monozygotic twins (from 76 to 100%), a higher frequency of hyperactivity among relatives of hyperactive children

Use timers

At school, breaks are regulated, and good teachers also have breaks during lessons. So this technique also helps at home. Let them rest every 20-30 minutes. But it’s worth remembering that all children often lose track of time. Use kitchen timers or alarms on clocks or phones to keep track of the time. Ask your child to set a certain amount of time for homework. The signal will also help get him back on track if he gets distracted.  

The tomato method ( Pomodoro ) is just such an option. It is based on a time management technique proposed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It is based on a breakdown of tasks into 25-minute periods – “tomatoes”, followed by short breaks (up to 5 minutes). Moreover, Cirillo invented this technique for adults.

Self-organization development

If your child regularly forgets tasks at school or carries a bunch of crumpled pieces of paper in his backpack instead of notebooks, help him gather his thoughts. But don’t do everything for the kids.

Visual reminders help at home. For example, you can take brightly colored folders for each item. Have a backup plan in case your homework is not written down again, and it is not clear what you need to bring to school tomorrow: keep a list of contacts of other children and their parents, use chats, an electronic diary. As a last resort, you can call the teacher, but you should not abuse this contact.

Praise the effort

Whether ADHD or not, kids thrive on praise. She encourages and motivates. So notice the successes, even the smallest ones. Praise the child for efforts and improvements, he did it (even if it was done together or mainly by an adult). Small victories can lead to big achievements.  

Strategies for difficult missions

Some homework is completed in minutes, while others gets stuck? Let him switch between them. Start simple, after 25-30 minutes switch to complex for a few minutes, then back to simple. Alternating between easy and hard work can help the child feel less depressed.

Set small goals

Rewards are good. But for a big reward, you will have to work hard, this, most likely, will not help. Long-term goals when diagnosed with ADHD work much worse than short-term goals. The best plan is many small goals throughout the day or week, which are immediately followed by a small prize.

Obvious but incredible

When helping your child with homework, include steps that may seem obvious to you. For example, the last two steps should always be “put pens and pencils in a pencil case”, “put notebooks and textbooks in a backpack”. The more specific the instructions are, the better.

Although many factors contribute to the occurrence of ADHD, and not all are yet understood, there is already encouraging research about how the syndrome develops. ADHD remains in adults in 60% of cases, but the lower the socioeconomic level of the family and the less the child is taught to cope with problems, the more ADHD symptoms have passed into adulthood. This means that working on schedules, calendars, and homework today is an investment in an independent teenager and an adult tomorrow.

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