This is certainly a very broad question and one that is, in many cases, age and situation dependent. Since the population of people I work with are children with ADHD, I would like to address the concerns around homework with that population in mind.
Separate from the issues many children with ADHD deficits face in remembering to write down their homework and bring home their materials, for children with ADHD, homework presents significant and somewhat unique challenges.
- Children with ADHD often need more time than their peers to complete the same work.
- They may be on medication to help them focus during the day. As this medication wears off, they will likely find it challenging to attend to the work and process what they must to learn. For many of these children, taking a booster med after school is impractical (they may not have eaten enough, they may want a break from the feeling of the meds, or they may stay up too late if they take additional medication).
- The child may just need a break from having done everything they could to keep it together at school and work as hard as they did just to keep up.
During the lower grades, it might be helpful and possible for teachers to modify the amount of homework required of the student (perhaps reducing the number of problems to be answered). Some students do not want this option. Much as adults may try to help them see this as a positive option, the reality is that some children don’t want to feel that they are not capable of doing as others do. They also don’t want others to know they are held to different standards.
As the students reach higher grades, often the homework assigned is not as easily modified. Some of the work is to help prepare students for the upcoming lessons. Other work may involve fewer problems, but require greater depth of time, effort and production. Either way, modifying the required work is not generally possible.
As this important debate continues along regarding the amount of homework that students are assigned, I hope that teachers and administrators consider the impact not just on typical students, but those who are perhaps equally bright, but face additional challenges due to their neurobiology.
Here is an additional article I have written regarding doing homework for students who have ADHD that you may find helpful: http://www.ptscoaching.com/articles/what-is-so-difficult-about-doing-homework/
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It’s important to note, too, that if ADHD is interfering with a child’s ability to organize and complete work, they may be entitled to legal protections. The first step is to send a letter to your public school principal or, if your child is in private school, administrator in charge of special education saying that your child is experiencing difficulties and that you would like an evaluation. Evaluations by the school psychologist and, if needed, by a private neuropsychologist, can identify non-visible impediments, like a slow processing speed, that may make homework more time consuming. Once documented, you might be entitled to have the school commit to modifications and supports in writing. Reimbursement for outside coaching support might also be possible.