HOMEWORK (GUIDELINES ABOUT HOW, WHEN, WHAT)
With pupils with ADHD is very important to cut the homework and to design homework specially thought to them: small pieces of tasks, with a good explanation distribution in steps, trying to teach before how to guide their execution with self-instructions.
They need help while they work at home. If not, they could waste a lot of time and to decrease their motivation and level of execution of the task.
The need has to be coherent with the age and the specific psicopedagogical profile (weak and strong skills), but the usual thing is that these pupils need a continuous guide, but not that family make the task. They have to help to the child to find the solution.
It´s very important give them rewards for the effort, not for the result.
To do the tasks, it´s better to use active strategies, manipulative activities, with visual or auditive guides (use websites related with the contents, videos, …)
They need to practice almost every day, but having free time to enjoy, play, rest…
It´s better short and few activities, the most important activities to gain each educational objectives.
What they need to practice more is: the essential tasks in order to practice the weaks points and to study the contents.
And, on the other hand: it´s good to practice the self-instructions and other executive functions.
KEY IDEAS FOR HOMEWORK
Make sure the pupil has enough time to copy the homework on his jotter and check that he has done it correctly.
Facilitate specific guide, organization sheets, homework timetable, etc., so that the pupil can learn to programme his weekly work.
Give them links and web pages of visual information (i.e. videos) or activities to complement verbal written information since they learn better with this type of material.
Remember children with ADHD take three times the amount of time an average pupil will take to do a given exercise, particularly when it involves reading and writing.
Reduce the amount of homework so that they do not spend excessive time doing it. Make sure the parents know the expected time limit for different types of homework activities since quite often these pupils spend whole evenings doing homework and studying due to their difficulties to concentrate, organize, planning, etc. They need to have accurate and appropriate guidelines to learn to be more effective when working at home.
Make sure homework is an opportunity to reinforce what they know. Avoid sending tasks that they are not able to do by themselves (since they cause frustration and unlimited time and need of help for them to do them).
Introduce imaginative and creative homework that is not always verbal (i.e. doing murals, collage, observing and recording, team-work, etc.).
Always prioritize autonomy and quality when working at home. Explain to the parents how important it is that the child develops skills to work on his own within a given time limit (that is adapted to his real ability) and make sure you give them positive feedback when they do it. If a child sits at his task and doesn´t do it within the time limit or says that he “doesn´t know how to do it” ask the parents to write a note saying something like “he has tried to do the homework but says he doesn´t know how to or he needed more time” so you can know where the problem is. Parents need to understand that the important issue is not to “do the homework” but “how it is done”.
Help the family to avoid making of the “homework and studying situation” a conflict situation and negative feedback by making them understand their child real difficulties and adjust their expectations.
If there is already a negative association for the child with this task it might be worth eliminating it all together. Initially might seem that the child is “missing on something important” and that “he is very happy not having to work at home” but sooner or later the majority of them will come to the teacher and ask for homework so that they are “like their classmates” and in this moment the teacher can start negotiating what and how to do it establishing a new routine with new and positive instructions.
Remember that these pupils accumulate a lot of frustration during the day, they are more tired in the evenings, they need to learn to plan and organize what they do and they need to develop a positive self-esteem.
None of which is going to be achieved by conflict and repeated failure at home when doing homework.