- If your student needs a break from the day before diving into homework, set a specific break with a defined time. Many students with executive functioning weaknesses have difficulty initiating tasks, and while they may need a break between school and homework, too much of a break will lead to reduced momentum and significant difficulty returning to a school mindset. Allow your student 20 minutes to have a snack and read a magazine, and do not be afraid to set a timer. Try not to use TV as a break – it can be much harder for your student to switch their brain from passive TV watching back into school mode.
- Establish a homework routine. Set a consistent time and place in the home, with relatively few distractions. Start each homework session by listing the tasks that need to be completed and assessing which are the easiest and which are the most difficult. Attack these tasks in a consistent manner. For some students with initiation problems, it can be best to start with an easy task to gain some momentum. For other students who get easily distracted or whose mental energy wanes fast as the evening passes, it is best to start with the hardest task, while they are more awake. For these students, sometimes starting with an easy task has the unintended consequence of the student spending too long on an activity that they could complete more quickly if under more time pressure.
- After listing homework tasks and before beginning work, have your student estimate how long each task will take to complete. Add all the time up and discuss a block of time that can accommodate each task, plus breaks (more on that below). Actually schedule “Homework” on the student’s calendar, ideally one that they can visually see the time block. Finally, and most importantly, have the student time herself as she completes each task and write it next to her original estimate. Over time, look at which tasks she consistently overestimates and which ones she consistently underestimates. We all have a tendency to underestimate the time we will need to complete a task, but sometimes students with executive functioning weaknesses will overestimate the time a task will take, thinking it will be much more difficult than it actually is. For students who consistently do this, see the next tip!
for the complete list of the Ten Homework Tips for Kids with ADHD and Executive Functioning Deficits!