If you have kids who are living with ADHD, you’ve probably experienced this scenario:
You assign your child some schoolwork. You walk away. You come back 15 minutes later and your child is sitting in the exact same position he was in when you left. You look at the schoolwork. He has managed to write his name and that’s it.
You ask: “What have you been doing all this time?!?” The answer you get is: “Um….” or “I don’t know. I was just….”
As frustrating as this sounds, it is pretty normal. Since kids who have ADHD have a hard time maintaining their focus long enough to finish something, it can seem as if your child will never learn how to do his schoolwork without you standing right there.
The good news is that our kids with ADHD can learn how to work independently, but they’ll need some help from us to do it.
Tips for Helping Kids with ADHD to Work Independently
Start with bite-sized assignments.
Start small, and I mean very small. If you use worksheets, assign your child ONE problem or question and ask him to complete it before you come back into the room. If that goes well, assign ONE more. If that one goes well, assign ONE more, then stop.
At this point, it doesn’t matter if the work is done correctly. It may not be. In fact, your child’s answers may not even be in the same galaxy with the right answer. But if he did the work on his own, that’s a victory for that day.
Stay close to your child while he works.
I got this idea from a fabulous blog post by Coach Carlene, and it really does work. Stay in the same general vicinity with your child. Don’t stand around waiting for her to finish, because that can just make her anxious. But remain near enough to observe discreetly.
When Tigger does her independent work, I try to stay nearby. If she’s at the dining room table, I’ll use that time to clean the kitchen. If she’s working on the sofa, I’ll go fold laundry on the other side of the living room. Just having me in her line of sight does wonders for her focus.
Give lots of praise.
When your child completes something on his own for the very first time, shower him with praise! Don’t focus on the accuracy of the work. Even if it’s accurate, that’s not the goal (yet).
The goal is for him to stick with his work without needing you to prod him along. If he does that today and you give praise for it, he’s more likely to try again tomorrow.
Have you had trouble helping your kids with ADHD work on their own? How do you encourage them to work independently? Share your tips in the comments!
This post is part of the 31 Days of ADHD Homeschooling series! Stop by tomorrow for Day 23: Homework Strategies for ADHD Kids!