10 Study Tips for Children with ADHD
Studying, doing homework, or preparing for an exam can be unpleasant tasks for any child. All of them require good tools and techniques so that the effort isn’t wasted. However, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder face greater challenges than the rest, as their nature prevents them from sitting still and focusing on the lesson. Therefore, here are some study tips for children with ADHD that may be of great help to you.
First of all, you should know that the family must be actively involved with the child with ADHD, supporting, guiding, and accompanying them until they can manage independently. In this regard, patience and empathy are essential. Don’t despair, because with perseverance and proper techniques, your child will succeed in their academic tasks.
With this in mind, we’ll talk about some of the most effective strategies that you can put into practice.
Study tips for children with ADHD
Before choosing a study technique, it’s important to talk about some previous steps that must be ensured for the session to be useful and fruitful. So, keep in mind the following study tips for children with ADHD.
1. Ensure an appropriate environment
The study place should be the quietest place in the house and should be used only for this purpose (as much as possible). It’s key that the surrounding space is clean and tidy, with good lighting and adequate ventilation.
All necessary materials should be there and ready before the study session begins. This way, there won’t be any interruptions to get up to look for them.
In addition, it’s essential to limit the presence of elements that may distract attention. Toys should be properly put away and technological elements that aren’t necessary should be removed from the room.
2. Instill consistency and routines
For all children, but especially for those with ADHD, routines are great allies. They need to know what steps to follow, in what order, and at what time.
If possible, try to have them study every day at the same time and for a similar length of time. In fact, the study structure should always follow the same order. In this regard, it’s advisable to start with the tasks of medium difficulty, continue with the most demanding ones and finish with the easiest ones. This way, you’ll increase and maintain motivation.
To adopt a habit and sustain it, it’s advisable to make a schedule or calendar and set aside a day and time in advance for each task.
3. Awaken your child’s attention and motivation
One of the most effective study keys for children with ADHD is to do an interesting and enjoyable activity for 5 or 10 minutes before starting homework.
Playing a board game or a technological game with short games, doing a crossword puzzle, or Sudoku are some of the valid alternatives. This way, attention is awakened and the laziness that arises when it’s time to study is overcome.
Study techniques for children with ADHD
Once the previous steps have been taken, it’s time to choose the study techniques to follow. It should be noted that each child is different and what works for one, doesn’t work for another. So, try different strategies until you find those that are most comfortable and functional.
1. Comprehensive reading and underlining
This is one of the simplest and most used study techniques, but not the most convenient.
It consists of an initial reading of the complete text and then, an analysis of its structure and parts, and a new comprehensive reading of each paragraph. It’s even a good strategy to write down the main ideas of each paragraph in the margin.
The main ideas should be underlined in order to consolidate the information and facilitate review. Once you’ve practiced, it’s possible to use different colors or strokes to distinguish the main concepts from the secondary ones.
2. Making summaries
Comprehensive reading should really only be a preliminary step. Then, it’s a good idea to create a summary of the subject, which is a brief writing with the main terms and ideas, expressed in the child’s own words.
Summaries force us, in a way, to elaborate the material and make it our own.
We no longer just passively read what’s written, but build the knowledge in our minds. Thus, this process helps to consolidate the information in the memory.
However, it’s important to ensure that the summary is rigorous: No important parts can be omitted and that should be no excess data. Therefore, an adult should accompany the child in the process.
3. Making outlines and concept maps
For some children, summaries will be enough. However, for most children, it’ll be necessary to go a step further. In these cases, outlines and concept maps help to synthesize the information and organize it visually, so that it’s easier to understand and learn.
It’s important that they’re based on keywords (i.e., use little text) and follow a hierarchy, in order to remember which concepts are subordinate to others. Arrows, braces, and other symbols can be used to indicate these relationships.
In this regard, one of the most useful study cues for children with ADHD is the so-called study in motion. These little ones have difficulty sitting still and sitting for long periods; therefore, they may benefit from reading the text while standing or walking around the room. Also, they may find it more enjoyable to have a whiteboard or screen on which to work out their outlines on the move, rather than in a notebook.
Flashcards are small paper or cardboard cards that can be used for different purposes.
When studying, they can be created with the key concepts of the syllabus, so that the child can create the study material. For review, a question can be placed on one side and the answer on the reverse side. In this way, the child can test their knowledge before the exam.
They can also be used for self-instruction. Children with ADHD have difficulty following the steps and completing the process without getting distracted. Therefore, a good approach is to develop a series of flashcards to help them remember what to do at any given moment.
For example, they can contain the steps needed to solve a math problem or parsing. They can also be more general and help them remember how to deal with a task: Read the statement, stop, ask what it asks, analyze the answer options, and answer.
We all have different learning styles. Some are more visual, while others are more auditory or more sensory. If we adapt the study strategies to this personal characteristic, everything will be much easier.
Therefore, more auditory children can enjoy a voice recording of the subject they have to learn and learn better by listening to it several times.
This recording can also be made by someone else, but ideally, it should be a summary adaptation of the subject, created and expressed by the student themself.
6. Loud exposition
Children with ADHD are more comfortable doing and moving, rather than passively receiving information. Therefore, it may be useful for them to review the subject matter by means of expositions out loud. Therefore, after having read, summarized, and understood the study material, they can present it aloud as if they were giving a lecture.
7. Mnemonic devices
Finally, the use of mnemonic devices is a simple and fun way to facilitate the memorization process. There are different types: Acronyms, acrostics, songs, the Loci method, and more.
Parents can explain them to the child and help them create some of their own until they become fluent enough to do them on their own.
Study tips for children with ADHD are great allies
The above are just a few suggestions but, in reality, each child or family can discover their own study technique. The key is to encourage perseverance and, above all, guidance and help.
Those parents who get involved with their ADHD children in the fulfillment of their homework make it much easier for them. Not only do they help them accomplish their assignments, but more importantly, they “teach them how to learn.” Once the child masters and knows how to apply these techniques, they’ll be much more autonomous in their daily studies.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Espinosa, A., Mata, C., Mojón, C., & Rivera, R. (2018). TDAH: Guía de apoyo al estudio. Fundación INGADA. https://www.fundacioningada.net/presentacion_guia_apoyo_estudio_es.html
- Iglesias, M., Gutiérrez, N., Loew, S., & Rodríguez, C. (2015). Hábitos y técnicas de estudio en adolescentes con trastorno por déficit de atención con o sin hiperactividad. European Journal of Education and Psychology, 9(1), 29-37. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejeps.2015.07.002