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Homework and ADD - Parents' Alert
I write about homework often. But as we get into the third month of school, it’s
again time to focus on the process. This is because an ADD student can have serious
trouble with homework without identifying the problem as due to the ADD.
Homework is always important and sometimes essential. It has several parts,
such as getting the assignment, bringing home the books, sitting to do the work,
and getting the completed work back to the teacher. Beyond the specific work
is the interaction with a parent who must keep the student on task. Unfortunately,
the interaction is often negative, argumentative, and unpleasant for all involved.
When an ADD student has a problem with homework, that suggests that the ADD
may not be fully controlled and is a clue to the fact that the management of
the condition needs to be reviewed.
Here’s the story of Mary. She is nine and in the fifth grade. Last year
homework time was a nightmare. She came home with work almost every night. But
she didn’t sit down to do it. Instead, she would argue, be difficult and
then sit down for a few minutes. Then she would be up and around. What she did
varied, but it was never schoolwork, and time went by. An hour’s worth
of work never ended. And more difficult was how her Mom had to be on top of
her if anything was to get done. This put a major strain on a relationship that
otherwise was pretty good.
Mary had been taking a medication that did not last long enough. But Mary’s
mother spoke to Mary’s doctor, and this year medication to cover homework
time was in place as the school year started. Mom reports that Mary comes home,
sits down and does the work without being told to do so, and is doing quite
well. The mother – daughter relationship is on a good track, and the homework
problem is under control.
This is a true report. It does happen.
Ralph is another type of problem. He is in tenth grade and the teachers have
called home. He’s not doing his homework in several subjects. His parents
have tried to get involved on a daily basis. But Ralph tells them he has no
homework or that he did it in school. He blows off any discussion and denies
that there is a problem.
This is a difficult situation. Some parents get into daily battles, others
restrict computer time. Some give up and let the student sink or swim. None
of these are good solutions.
The first step toward handling an ADD student with homework problems is to
review the possible causes for the trouble. Sometimes the books are misplaced
or the assignment is lost. Perhaps the medication has worn off. This is often
the case with the athlete who gets home at 6 PM, and starts homework after instant
messaging and dinner. At times the student doesn’t understand the assignment,
which is common if he didn’t listen in school.
Once we have a handle on the problem, then options for dealing with the homework
can be considered. Guidance for the parents can be a big help. A tutor or coach
to help with the work or with organization is often helpful. Sometimes a student
can get support form a school guidance counselor or social worker. Perhaps medication
changes should be considered.
Homework is important and we need to see how it is going. Keep an eye on your
child’s homework, and catch problems early. Don’t let a problem
go without at least discussing it with the student and medicating physician.
On this web site you will find a Newsletter article entitled “ADD and
Homework” which is in the News Letter Library under ADD and Children.
Other points are discussed, and you may find it of interest.
In the meantime, act now!