There are many ways ADHD can impair a child's ability to learn and succeed in school. Homework problems are one of the most
common and primary issues among children with ADHD. The majority of children with ADHD present significant problems fulfilling
homework responsibilities. They don't want to do their homework, which typically results in major battles virtually every
night between ADHD children and their parents.
Children with ADHD frequently complain of homework being extremely boring--- too boring for them to be able to maintain concentration
on their assignments. Many children claim they do not understand their homework assignments, with completion of homework seeming
to require the constant assistance of parents or tutors. Another commonly-occurring problem for children with ADHD: children
waiting until the last minute to begin long-term projects and term papers, resulting in significant stress for children as
well as their parents as they frantically rush to meet project deadlines.
Given the aversion many children with ADHD have to doing homework, it is not uncommon for them to lie about whether or not
they have any homework assignments. It often isn't until school progress reports come out that parents learn of all their
children's missing assignments and resulting poor or failing grades. It is also not uncommon for children with ADHD to forget
to turn in homework assignments they do complete, much to the confusion and dismay of their parents and teachers.
Homework and Grades
Although children with ADHD often have various learning challenges, the single biggest reason for their poor grades is missing
assignments, usually due to their failure to complete and turn in homework. Achieving good grades is actually less dependent
upon how intelligent children are than whether or not all their assignments have been turned in and done to the best of their
abilities. Homework plays such an important role in grading that children receiving poor grades often will begin receiving
above-average grades--- regardless of their intellectual level or abilities--- just for having all their assignments completed
and turned-in on time.
Homework and the ADHD Brain
There are some important reasons children with ADHD have such negative reactions to completing homework. The ADHD brain typically
has significant difficulties concentrating on low-stimulating mental activities. ADHD brains require a higher level of stimulation
than non-ADHD brains to stay focused and on task. No wonder, then, children with ADHD react so negatively to homework tasks!
Homework is generally one of the most, if not the most, low-stimulating mental activities of the day for children with ADHD.
There is little stimulation for an ADHD brain in having to sit alone trying to read a book, complete a worksheet, research
answers to assigned reading, write a paper, or work on a term project, particularly when the child may have little or no interest
in the subject matter. When children with ADHD complain their homework is too boring to maintain their concentration, they
are often not making this up. The homework situation typically does not provide enough stimulation to keep a child with ADHD
from becoming mentally fatigued and bored in a short period of time. Add to these issues the fact that children typically
do not begin homework activities until late in the day, when mental fatigue is beginning to set in, when blood sugar levels
may at a low ebb, and when they are now back home where any number of preferable higher-stimulating activities (such as their
electronic entertainment, playing with friends, or just about anything else) are right at (or just beyond) their finger tips.
The conclusion made of many children with ADHD is that they are just lazy or unmotivated when it comes to homework responsibilities
and if they would only try harder, they would be able to get their homework done. Unfortunately, the fact is that trying
harder typically does not improve the ability of an ADHD brain to engage in boring, low-stimulating activities. In fact,
brain scans show the harder an individual with ADHD tries, often the worse it gets, with the brain's prefrontal cortex---
crucial to concentration and learning--- shutting down even more.
Parents often try many things to improve the homework situation. They hire tutors in an effort to improve their children's
understanding of various subjects. They follow through with significant consequences when their children have been uncooperative
or otherwise not fulfilled homework responsibilities. They set up significant reward systems, including big payoffs for meeting
homework expectations. They constantly remind children who tend to forget homework responsibilities. They engage in endless
reasoning and arguing with their oppositional children. They may even resort to yelling, berating, threatening, intimidating
and physical coercion to improve children's homework behavior. Most parents find they are spending much time daily dealing
with their children's homework issues.
Unfortunately, many parents have come to feel quite frustrated and disappointed with the results of these efforts. The discouragement
of some parents has even grown to the point where they have begun to have serious doubts they will ever be able to gain their
children's cooperation with homework without it always being a major hassle.
Reason for Hope
Although children with ADHD are faced with particular challenges when it comes to completing homework, there is hope for obtraining
much better results with homework for children with ADHD. The reasons for homework problems are often more complex than just
willful opposition on the part of the child. There are often several factors affecting children's success with homework.
This is particularly true for children with ADHD. Subsequently, there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration
in designing a program that will lead to success with homework for children with ADHD. Significant and ongoing improvement
in children's homework behavior typically requires the implementation of a homework program with a specially-designed structure
of expectations, monitoring, consistency, accountability, accommodation and support.
The Homework Success Program
Homework problems have been such common theme in my work with children, teens and families that I have been devoted to finding
effective solutions for these issues. As the result of years of research and experimentation with many students and families,
I recently published a book entitled, "Ending the Homework Wars," featuring the Homework Success Program.
The Homework Success Program addresses the various factors essential to homework success for many children, particularly those
with ADHD. Parents who have implemented the program have consistently reported significant improvements in their children's
homework behavior, an end to the nightly homework battles with their children, significant improvement in children's grades,
greater harmony within the home, more positive interactions with their children, and a greater sense of self-esteem in their
I am committed to helping you achieve new-found success for children and teens struggling with homework and school-related
Now Available in Print
Find out about Dean Garrison's recently published Ending the Homework Wars, an exceptional resource for resolving homework
difficulties featuring the Homework Success Program. For more information, click on the picture below: