Motivating your child to complete their homework is a struggle at the best of times, especially when core symptoms of ADHD affect aspects such as organisation and time management.
The following are 5 strategies which can be used to increase your child’s success and motivation to complete their homework and help them to see it as a skill rather than a chore.
- Improve the work environment
Limit distractions in the home and workspace. This can include restricting mobile phone usage during homework hours, reduce unnecessary noise and turn off the television. Whilst reducing unnecessary noise is important, you might find that instrumental music softly playing in the background could help your child block out auditory distracts and improve concentration. Ensure that the workspace is bright and encouraging to work in, in an effort to build motivation
- Develop a routine and schedule
In order to develop a homework habit, it is important to get used to a routine where a specific time and place for homework has been established with you and your child. It is important to consider factors such as:
- When your child is most productive (immediately after school or in the evening after some time to relax from the day),
- Extracurricular activities which can interfere with set homework times,
- Schedule homework when you or someone else has time to monitor.
- Preparation and structure
Ensure your child has all assignments recorded then mark on a calendar. Request the teacher’s help or other responsible students if there are any questions about tasks. Once what needs to be done is established, help your child plan a “things to do” list of tasks for the evening and encourage them to tick off what is accomplished. If your child often forgets to bring home textbooks needed for assignments, ask the teacher if you can borrow a set for home or perhaps purchase one. The most challenging types of assessments are those which span over long periods of time. It helps to:
- Mark the due date on a calendar,
- Break the project down and set goals for what needs to be completed each day in the lead up to the due date,
- Gather resources and encourage your child to begin the research as soon as possible.
- Provide help
While it’s important to be available to answer questions and provide support, avoid your child getting into unhealthy habits and relying on you to do the work for them. Help your child to get started which can be difficult for many of us, but once they’re on a roll, get up and leave. Don’t forget to praise your child for staying on task and give extra praise for achievements.
- Increase motivation and work production
Use rewards, incentives, and other motivation techniques to increase and promote positive behaviour. For example, use a kitchen timer to challenge your child to finish a task before the timer goes off. Reward the work completed in that time-frame depending upon how accurate the work is. Help your child establish mini goals and at the completion of each goal reward them with a break, watch some TV, points/tokens or any other rewarding system you may already have in place. Replace nagging with incentives to motivate your child in completing their homework. This can also work on the flipside; withhold privileges if your child does not stay on task or if they fail to bring home assignments and other materials needed to complete homework.
And remember, it is not your responsibility to turn your child’s work into an outstanding, perfect, work of art. The homework may be too confusing for your child or may take an excessive amount of time to complete. Talk to the teacher about possible adjustments that can be made to ensure that the never-ending homework battle is made somewhat more bearable for you and your child.