pieces of paper with school subjects listed like algebra, English, chemistry

Combine educational concepts for kids with ADHD

3 minute read

In the beginning homework was a painful task

I spent too many hours trying to make my kids do homework the way that the school wanted or the way that made sense to me. These moments were stressful, created tension between me and my kids, and resulted in homework still not being completed. And there was no meaningful learning taking place. 

Sound familiar? 

I knew I needed a more effective and efficient solution for my kids to learn – use how their ADHD brains work and match that to creative studying methods.

I read an article about integrated learning and felt that this may be the tool I needed! 

What is integrated learning?

In my mind integrated learning blends multiple subject areas into a task or project.

Kids with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, actively listening, and holding pieces of information in their working memory. Integrated learning can take elements of reading, writing, math, and science and combine them into a learning assignment.

The student practices skills in multiple subject areas without realizing it.

Separate worksheets and tasks overwhelm kids with ADHD

My kids groan when they sit down to do homework. First of all, they are not motivated. Second, it is difficult for their brain to switch between reading, history, writing, math, and science.

I knew I needed to find a new method for my kids to study. They were giving up and their grades were suffering. Nagging them to “try harder” was not working. And I disliked the dynamic I was creating between us.

I tried to recall all the good advice I had read in books on parenting, ADHD, and executive function. Two things stuck out in my mind:  attention span and motivation.

Working with the Attention Span

My kids have typically not been able to pay attention for longer than a few minutes at a time, even with preferred tasks like sports and playing. I used to think this would get better – that at some point they would just sit down and studiously work.

I had to reframe my thinking and expectations.

There was nothing wrong with how my kids were doing their tasks. They were studying and going through daily life in a way that made sense to them. I just had to fit their thought processes with the tasks. 

So instead of trying to change the kids I started changing the tasks.

Parent as homework coach

I needed to teach my kids how to complete a homework task with the attention and focus that they are capable of exerting. This can look like doing one math problem and walking away for five minutes before doing another problem.

Or maybe one kid is very motivated to read after dinner but not right after school.  “I need to watch TV first to relax,” might be a legitimate need and not just an excuse. That’s up to you to observe and decide for your kid.

Do you find that your kids are just not motivated to do their homework?

Look for a future post on my experience with improving my kids motivation. 

Visit the Learning Resources page to learn more about study strategies I have developed for kids with ADHD.

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