how to study with adhd

Teaching Your Child How to Study With ADHD

Smartmom recently posted an article on ADHD that discussed the consistent cycle of inattention caused by ADHD. This can make everyday tasks like getting ready for school, going to an appointment, or completing homework assignments very challenging not only for your child, but for you! ADHD has a way of impacting the entire family. However, by instituting a fool-proof plan for how to study with ADHD, your child is bound for success. By establishing these patterns early on, you are not only helping create a peaceful household environment, but also equipping your child to meet the academic challenges independently in later years.

Here are 4 recommended tips for helping your child with ADHD learn how to study effectively and efficiently.

1. Post reminders.

This tactic always surprises me with how simple and yet effective it is with all learners. Even as adults, we are addicted to reminders on our smartphones, refrigerators, and desks. However, for your child with ADHD, bump it up a notch. When you get home from school, create a reminder for the work that must be completed that evening. Teach your child to cross off the item as they begin that assignment, otherwise, young students often go back to the same activity. So, once Sophie starts her handwriting, have her cross it off. That way, when she goes back to her list and references the next item, she doesn’t come across ‘handwriting worksheet’ again. Once children develop the skills to follow and check off a list, they often really enjoy it! It’s fun to see your progress and check things off. Allow your child to pick how they would like to keep their reminders/lists. Some options are erasing items off of a whiteboard, throwing away a post it after completing the task, or checking off boxes on a list. Whatever your child chooses, keep it consistent.

2. Think visually.

Visuals are helpful for many types of learners, but especially for those that need help attending to certain tasks. Visuals may be posters with symbols to represent the steps to get reading in the morning (i.e. make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast) or it may be something more subtle (i.e. color coding folders for each class subject). Consider how you can incorporate these throughout your child’s day. Often, educators are great at incorporating visuals in the classroom. Consider visiting your child’s classroom for inspiration or collaborate with your child’s teacher to determine what visuals/study materials have been effective in the classroom.

3. Learn actively.

For children with ADHD, learning may need to be active to keep their bodies and minds busy on the same subject! So, make learning active – create games out of spelling word lists, science curriculum, or math facts. For spelling words, have your child hop a step for each letter of their spelling word. When your child gets across the living room/backyard they get to choose a word that you have to spell! Make memorizing math facts into a game of Twister by attaching a math fact with each spin. For each missed fact, that player loses a turn. However you make learning active, keep it engaging and consistent. Sometimes this type of learning is time consuming, however, keep in mind that the goal is to learn the material, not to complete the assignment. This will be something as a parent you’ll have to remind yourself. There may be occasions where completion trumps mastery, but attempt to make learning engaging when feasible.

4. Utilize technology.

Are you establishing study patterns with a tech-savvy teen? Determine which apps and sites could be helpful by brainstorming with teachers, school media specialists, and local librarians. Consider apps like Quizlet, which allows students to create flashcards to use on smart phones, tablets, or laptops. In fact, many subjects already have flashcards created by other Quizlet users. When it comes to technology, it’s all about the mantra, “work smarter, not harder”. For many students, utilizing technology to complete an assignment or to study for a test can also be motivating and engaging – a double win for students studying with ADHD.

All of these tips are so effective when utilized consistently. Where many parents go wrong is when they change the system. They don’t see the quick results that they would like, so they assume that something is wrong with their system. Often, children struggle to transition to a more structured study system and it can appear that things get worse initially. However, often, children transition well after given a couple weeks to adjust. Stick with it!

RELATED QUESTIONS

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About Melissa Elchison

Melissa Elchison is currently pursuing her clinical fellowship as a speech and language pathologist. Previously, she studied education and was an early childhood researcher at The Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati. She enjoys barre classes, traveling with her husband, and trying new recipes.