Help! My child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He’s taking hours to do his homework. How can I keep him stay focused? How can I work with his teachers so he will behave and learn in the classroom?

ADHD in children brings challenges to the educational setting. If you’re considering homeschooling, or need ideas for helping the student stay calm and focused in the classroom, there’s good news! With the right support system, your child with ADHD can thrive academically! Here are some tips to help your child stay focused, cope with all the extra energy, effectively learn the material, and achieve educational success.

ADHD in Children: Stimulus and Structure

Children with ADHD are specifically drawn to two things: stimulus and structure. Remember these two words! They are powerful tools to use in the classroom and at home to equip your child to succeed.

You already know your child with ADHD seeks out stimulating activities and objects and feeds off of this stimulation. You also know your child can get over-stimulated – “bouncing off the walls.” Remember that stimulation is not a bad thing. If used correctly, it will motivate your child and be a reward for good behaviors. Our aim is a child who is neither under-stimulated nor over-stimulated.

Children with ADHD also crave structure. An organized classroom and home empower your child to focus and stay on task. Children with ADHD are critically in need of a regular schedule, a neat and tidy environment, and consistent guidelines for behavior. An organized life and environment leads to an organized mind. Structure reins in the tendency to “go off in all directions.”

Let’s look at some practical ways to make the learning experience stimulating and interesting and fun while implementing structure to help your child succeed.

Tips to help the child with ADHD thrive academically

1. Use your child’s interests.

What catches your child’s attention? Are there particular animals or characters or activities that they especially enjoy? Find ways to incorporate your child’s interests into the learning process. For example, is your child obsessed with trains? Put some small trains on the table and use them for teaching math! The train cars can be used for adding, subtracting, even multiplication and division.

Creatively weave your child’s interests into the educational experience to keep him or her engaged. “Hands-on” learning – holding and manipulating objects – helps the student with ADHD concentrate and learn faster. You can also use interests as a reward system – once a certain section of the lesson has been completed, they can take a brief play break with the item of interest.

2. Use rote memory as sparingly as possible.

Did you learn multiplication tables through memory drills and flashcards? Some children learn through rote memory, but students with ADHD find this method boring and will become easily distracted. Find imaginative and interesting ways to help the student with ADHD memorize material.

Visual strategies, such as drawing pictures, help students understand and remember concepts. Your child might have fun with mnemonic devices. For example, in Science, the sentence “King Philip came over for great spaghetti” helps remember “Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Genus, Species.”

Rhymes, such as “i before e except after c” are helpful for remembering spelling rules. Music is powerful – using songs and rap to teach will hold your child’s attention and stimulate memory.

3. Use all five senses.

A combination of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste takes advantage of your child’s craving for stimulation. Using multi-sensory teaching methods keeps the student more engaged. Discover which of the five senses your child finds most interesting, but remember to use all of them regularly. Here are some examples:

  • Have the child read out loud to engage both sight and hearing at the same time. Add in touch by having younger children point out items in pictures, or by having the older student touch the words or sentences as they are reading. Children who are auditory learners may enjoy books on tape.
  • Use headphones to block sounds that distract. If the student is also listening to learning material through the headphones, he can focus on just that material and not the noises in his environment.
  • Use taste strategically. Chewing gum helps the student concentrate and stay alert. Snacks can be used to reward completing a task or learning a concept.
  • Try out scented crayons, pens and pencils to capture interest. Smell triggers memory, so try to find ways to use in memory work.
  • Allowing the child to hold and manipulate a small item is a great way to incorporate touch into the learning process. A fidget spinner, a small stuffed toy, or a small sensory ball can help the student stay in his chair and listen better.

4. Use a predictable schedule.

Research has demonstrated that we function better when we follow a consistent daily schedule – getting up at the same time, eating at the same time, and so forth. This is especially true for students with ADHD who require a structured environment and routine.

Write out a schedule for your child to follow each day – such as what time to get up, when to eat breakfast, when to brush teeth and get dressed for school, and when to go out to the bus stop.

If homeschooling, try to follow a normal school schedule on most days – start and end school at the same time, and follow a pattern for when each subject is taught. Have a chart on the wall so the student can anticipate what comes next.

5. Use consistent guidelines.

Students with ADHD may not like rules, but when they know what is expected and have boundaries, this helps them bring their behaviors under control and apply their attention to the tasks they need to achieve.

Rules only work when they’re enforced. Your child should know the consequences of negative behaviors, but also anticipate rewards for positive behaviors. Mutual respect between child and parent (or teacher), and firm but loving discipline helps your child develop self-control.

Suggested reading: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson, and Love and Logic by Jim Faye.

6. Use regular breaks at set times

The student with ADHD will maintain better attention if instruction periods (or homework studies) are divided into twenty-minute sessions with a five to ten-minute break between each session. Use a timer to let the child know when it’s break time, and then when it’s time to hit the books again.

7. Use small bits of learning material

A child with ADHD will be able to focus and learn new material better if it is presented in smaller chunks. Trying to learn several concepts in one lesson can be overwhelming. Teach one concept at a time, and practice that to make sure it is learned, before continuing to the next concept.

Many children with ADHD get distracted when reading or doing math problems if there’s too much material on the page. You can cover up the entire page, except for the one problem the student is working on so they can concentrate on that and that alone.

8. Use flexibility.

We’ve already discussed the importance of structure and following a schedule. However, one has to be flexible enough that if you are losing the student’s attention you can switch things up to recapture their interest!

If your child is restless and wriggling in his seat during the English lesson, switch to math or history. This doesn’t mean you should abandon the schedule, but sometimes changing things up can give your child the bit of refreshment they need.

9. Use movement.

Most children with ADHD are kinesthetic learners, meaning that they learn better when they are active – when their bodies are in motion and they are actually touching the materials.

They might learn math better by using an abacus or manipulatives, may enjoy learning writing by tracing letters in sand, and learn science by conducting experiments. Games and role play are a great way to keep students in motion but teach them simultaneously.

10. Use calming techniques.

Children with ADHD are prone to meltdowns and defiant behaviors. This can make their parents (and teachers) frustrated and angry, which, in turn, makes the child even more upset. Remember to take care of yourself! Take a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and work to calm yourself.

You can try various calming techniques on yourself and also have your child experiment with what works best for him or her. Sometimes just sitting quietly with eyes closed, breathing slowly, filling the belly with air, and gently rocking can bring calm.

Children who are especially hyperactive might benefit by using a weighted vest at school to help them center. Getting outdoors and taking a walk or swinging can also be calming.

11. Use respect, patience, and love

As mentioned above, children with ADHD sometimes also display defiant behaviors. If you want to command respect from your child, you need to model it for them. Speak to your child in a polite tone, use the words “please” and “thank you” and also let them see you showing respect to older people.

The child with ADHD can really push your buttons, but this is your opportunity to use Godly patience (and lots of prayer) in dealing with them. If you respond to your child with patience and calm, it will help him to calm down as well.

Teaching and parenting a child with ADHD has many challenges, but remember that this child is a gift from God, and with His help, you can raise this child to not only thrive academically but also spiritually and emotionally. Love them as Christ has loved you.


Diagnosing ADHD can be a bit complicated, and parenting and educating children with ADHD can be a special challenge. For many families, counseling for both parents and children can help them develop strategies for overcoming negative behaviors and succeeding in the learning process.

Don’t feel like you have to do this on your own. Take advantage of support groups and parent groups for families with a child with ADHD. Remember that the church is the body of Christ and that you have a community of brothers and sisters to support you through this. And, yes, seek out Christian counseling so that you can have the professional guidance you need.

“Agitation”, Courtesy of GoaShape,; CC0 License; “Homework time,” courtesy of,, CC0 License; “Worried,” courtesy of Joseph Gonzalez,, CC0 License; “Children at play,” Courtesy of ann_jutatip, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)
By Published On: November 28th, 20189 min read


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