Updated 12 July 2017

Homework and the child with ADHD

Homework doesn't need to be a battle. Here are a few tips on how to help your child with ADHD.


1. You don’t have to be a teacher to help your ADHD child with homework.

2. Set up a homework and study area for your child. It must be:

  • Quiet; however, some children need “background noise” to be able to concentrate e.g. music
  • Comfortable
  • Well lit
  • Properly supplied i.e. with desk, paper, pencils, pens etc. Some children need to move around when studying
  • Without distractions nearby such as a telephone or television.

3. Schedule daily homework times, which should not be negotiable.

  • Choose the right amount of time
  • Avoid conflict
  • Be on hand if possible.

4. DO NOT do the homework for your child.

  • “Set the stage” and remind him/her when it is time to work
  • Don’t try to teach
  • Answer questions when you can
  • Encourage him/her to think about what is being studied
  • Point out resources such as: dictionary, atlas, tutor, teacher etc.
  • Encourage him/her to solve problems on his/her own before asking for help.

5. Motivate your child.

  • Encourage
  • Praise
  • Reward.

6. Help with Study Skills. Help your child to:

  • Organise assignments e.g. using an assignment time-table on a calendar
  • Schedule time in a daily or weekly planner
  • Follow directions by reading aloud or breaking them into steps
  • Make summaries – using headings, key points, numbering points, mind-maps etc.
  • Plan projects
  • Study for tests – reread notes, revise summaries, share summaries with classmates, practise test questions etc.

7. Show that learning matters: your example carries a strong message.

  • Help your child connect ideas from the classroom with daily life
  • Read up on subjects i.e. extra reading
  • Talk about current events
  • Talk about the books your child is reading.

8. Team up with teachers. Meet regularly.

  • Know what is expected e.g. with projects, how much time should be spent on homework assignments
  • Discuss any homework problems.



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ADHD Expert

Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation ( She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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