page contents

Attention Problems and Children VII  

One of the areas children with attention struggles often have difficulties is in academics. What can parents do to help their kids in their academic functioning? One of the biggest things involves how they manage and structure their children’s homework time. Attention challenged children have difficulty with organization and focus so parents can really help by addressing those things in the homework routine. The simplest and most obvious thing is to make sure homework happens in a place where distraction is kept to a minimum. It should go without saying that a child who struggles with attention issues shouldn’t do their homework in front of a television, but I’m not sure it always does. In fact, homework in front of a television is probably a bad idea for any child.

Since focus is such a difficulty, it might be helpful to structure homework time into small chunks. Children can focus for a period of time and then take a break, doing a different kind of activity that refreshes their ability to focus. It is important that the break shouldn’t be taken up with activities that so captivate the children they have difficulty reengaging with their homework. Something to eat or drink, some moderate physical activity, or perhaps even a conversation with you might be good choices. A video game or intense physical activities are probably not good choices. As children get better and better at following such a schedule, you may be able to gradually lengthen the time they focus.

Have reasonable expectations. Remember the focus should be on getting the homework done as well as possible. You don’t need to think of it as a time when they need to practice “school behavior” as well. If they can work better while standing than sitting, let them stand. If tapping or fidgeting helps their focus, let them do that. If they can stay on task better while singing, let them sing. It isn’t unusual for some level of physical activity to help children focus more cognitively.

Finally, it is vitally important to maintain a good relationship with your child’s school and teachers and regularly communicate with them. Regular communication can help head off problems while they are still small, and it is often even possible to set up monitoring systems that teachers cooperate with to address problems such as forgetting what homework was assigned, or to turn assignments in.

Previous                                                                               Next