Note: There has been some controversy over this article, so I want to make this very clear. In no way am I saying you need to think the way I do or do the things I do. ADHD affects people differently and what works for my child may not work for yours and visa-versa. If you do agree with the way I think, great! If you don’t agree with the way I think, that’s great too! I completely understand either way, because I know ADHD affects our children differently. I know to be understanding, compassionate, respectful, and supportive, even if you don’t agree with me. Unfortunately, I’ve come across a couple of parents who don’t know to be those things and have attacked me online and accused me of bad parenting because of this article. I am not going to tolerate this at all and you can guarantee my mamma bear claws will be coming out!
My daughter has ADHD and has been in elementary school for two years now. Both her kindergarten and first grade teacher were aware of her magnificent overactive mind and the struggles she sometimes faced while doing her assignments. Homework that should take thirty minutes to complete takes my daughter one hour. It’s not that my daughter doesn’t know the material. It’s that she gets distracted and sidetracked very easily. If I wasn’t there right by her side the entire time, her homework simply would not get done. When she comes to a problem on her assignment that she has difficulty with, she becomes frustrated and has a full blown meltdown. This involves tears and self bashing statements from her, such as “I’m stupid” and “I’ll never be able to do it.” As you can imagine, these meltdowns make completing her homework take even longer.
When I met with the teachers at the parent-teacher conferences, I let them know what homework is like for my daughter. Both teachers understood and showed compassion. Both also told me that my daughter didn’t have to complete the assignment if it was too much for her. Whoah, whoah, whoah. Now I know these teachers had the best intentions and I appreciate their willingness to accommodate her, but I didn’t agree with this solution at all. It simply wasn’t going to fly with my parenting style and values.
You can call me a mean, unfair, or strict mom, but my daughter’s schooling and education is extremely important to me and although my daughter’s ADHD can create some challenges for her, I do not want her using it as an excuse to get out of homework or anything else for that matter. Kids are smart, especially kids with ADHD. If I let my daughter not finish her assignment because she had a meltdown or it was simply taking too long to complete, she would learn that her ADHD really is an excuse. She would think she can get away with other things and she would most definitely try to use that to her advantage and manipulate people.
ADHD is not a free pass at school, at home, or at life. Completing her homework may take my daughter longer than her classmates, but I assure you she is intelligent and capable enough to complete it. Instead of letting my daughter use ADHD as an excuse to not complete her assignment, I use it as an explanation as to why it can be difficult for her to complete her assignment. That is what ADHD is: An explanation, not an excuse. There is a big difference. Instead of shortening the assignment like the teachers suggested, I provide her with tools to help her complete the entire assignment. For math, I let her use Shopkins as counters to make it more fun. For reading, I encourage her to use a silly voice to make it more interesting. For spelling, I let her eat one mini M&M every time she writes her spelling word three times each. You get the picture. Coming up with new and different out of the box techniques to make homework fun for my daughter can be exhausting and time consuming, but if it gets my daughter to complete her entire assignment and actually enjoy doing so, it is well worth it.
The point I am trying to make is this: Kids with ADHD, mine included, should not be taught to treat their ADHD as an excuse. When given the proper tools, resources, and a whole lot of patience from their parents, they are more than capable of doing anything and everything their classmates can do. To the teachers of students with ADHD, please don’t give up on these kids because you think it is simply the easier and less stressful thing to do for the student and the parents. Parents of ADHDers are more than willing to put in the extra work, time, and energy to help their child. Give these students a chance and give them the tools they need to succeed. I guarantee they will surprise you.
Note: If you have a young child with ADHD, check out the fun and stimulating Homework Center I made for my daughter.