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ADHD, Homework, and School Struggles
During my student years, I often struggled with different school matters. There were plenty of times when my teacher scolded me because I was busy daydreaming instead of focusing more on the subject she was teaching. My classmates likewise often saw me as someone who would always get in trouble because of my impulsive behavior. However, with these traits and experience, I still managed to get fair grades and make my parents proud. 💪 Looking back, I realize how confusing and frustrating my experiences were: I struggled a lot in school, but I don't know why.
One thing I'll never forget is when people tagged me as "lazy" or someone who needed to “do better” or perform well in school. And I guess that was one of the reasons why I became more puzzled by the experiences I had. 😵 It sometimes caught me off-guard when people made these remarks because it’s not like I didn’t want to do things their way - I just couldn’t.
I wish I had known sooner that what I experienced were ADHD symptoms that can affect how I study, interact with people, and perform in school. It wasn't until I was 29 that I was diagnosed with ADHD and started knowing more about my struggles.
Alice, As An Undiagnosed ADHD Student
Whenever homework or assignments were given to us, all I did was read them and leave them hanging until the day before they were due. Often, I prioritized playing a video game for hours, going outside for a walk, or doodling illustrations of anything that I liked. 😅 I found myself not interested in doing my homework unless someone forced me to or if the deadline was just around the corner.
Studying was a “hit-or-miss” thing for me. Art, Music, and Science were the subjects I am most interested in. I gave them my intense focus and full attention. 🙌 Math problems, watching long movies regarding history, and other similar subjects were the things that I found boring. They would either put me to sleep or distract me, and I always yearned for break time. 🥺
My struggles became much more intense when I graduated and decided to go to college. There were moments when I was easily frustrated in everything that I did and got emotional during the entire school year because studying was hard. I gave up on the challenges and lost self-esteem, making me drop out and shift career paths.
Do I Need To Exert More Effort?
As someone who often displays excessive physical activity and gets distracted quickly, my homework hours are typically longer than most people’s. It still happens now, though I’m no longer a student.
The actual time I spent doing after-school activities became shorter, and yet, I still found myself doing unnecessary things or things not related to the one I should be doing. 😭 Then, when the submission of these assignments comes, I often get scolded by my teacher.
I rarely got positive feedback from my teachers regarding my performance on their given tasks. They would always say there's more that I could do if I only tried to put my best foot forward. But all I was thinking was, "I wish I had the interest and focus on giving my all to your subject…” This thought was often followed by “...but, I don’t understand what’s happening to me.” Homework is hard enough, let alone trying to focus on a particular task for long periods.
Instances such as these sadden me because instead of understanding the struggles that students with ADHD face and having the proper support they deserve, we usually only get the wrong kind of attention and treatment. 🥺 We are often misunderstood and called "lazy" or "impatient." Instead of adequately pointing out room for improvement and providing positive feedback, we often get judged.
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The Art of Procrastination
What is procrastination? Why is it such a relatable word when you have ADHD?
Procrastination is when a person decides to delay or avoid doing a task that needs to be done even though they can do it now.
The delay gives you some time off with yourself, but often results in more distress. Sometimes, people may think that procrastination can only be connected with laziness. However, as an ADHD brain works differently, it can also “trigger” procrastination.
A child's time management can be a struggle, especially when they need to do things they're not interested in. 😔 This is where procrastination can happen and affect the outcome of the task they are endorsed with. Sometimes, rushing things to finish a specific homework or activity to submit on or before the deadline can yield a different, negative result.
Some people may also think that we are neglecting our responsibilities because we let ourselves enjoy other things at the expense of our homework or school activities. But in reality, we often think about these tasks, but just cannot start because our brains aren't ready to face them. 😨
Facing Homework Assignments
Most children with ADHD prioritize tasks and activities that are interesting to them. It can resonate with many neurotypical people at how fast they work on something that sparks joy in them compared to those they think are boring.
In some cases, we gather enough will and courage to initiate doing an assignment. 💪 But when we are finally faced with it, our brain gets easily clouded, distracted, and out of focus.
I often feel this struggle, especially when I don't know where to start and everything is given at once within the same deadline. My mind feels heavy with the pressure, and the stress I feel piles up, making me more exhausted. No matter how hard I try to do these tasks, I always end up not doing anything or accomplishing less than what I imagined to complete. 😭
But when interesting topics are given, even if it's days ahead of the scheduled deadline, I can finish them in a flash. These subjects with positive light can be my source of inspiration and increase my productivity tenfold. 😘 It only takes some time for me to get used to the task, and once I find my flow, nothing can stop me from executing it flawlessly.
Having the right mindset and timing a regular schedule while having the proper technique can help many individuals with ADHD get through homework and school-related tasks.
How Can We Make Homework Time Exciting?
We have established that a child's attention can be short-lived, especially when struggling with ADHD. Please note, though, that this can also happen to ADHD adults. So, how can we make homework time and school work more exciting so that they can focus on it?
The first reminder I want to share with you is to be kind to yourself, always. ❤️ Remember that we struggle with our ADHD brains every day and are doing the best that we can. The most crucial part is that we should work with our brains and not against them.
These are some of the other techniques that might help:
- Create a designated homework space that can accommodate all homework routines. It doesn't matter if it's a study table or kitchen table, as long as you can focus on doing your tasks. This space will help you focus on your homework and avoid distractions.
- Set the ambiance or mood that you are comfortable in working. Do you function well with no background noise, or are you okay working with white noise? Sometimes, these little details are essential to note because they can help increase your focus.
- Keep everything you need within reach. If school books 📚 are essential in answering your homework, make sure they are beside you. If you need to highlight specific phrases from your notes, make certain colored pens are at arms' reach or organized in front of you. Likewise, keeping distractions away can enforce focus and give better productivity.
- Establish a routine or schedule for homework time. This can help the mind get used to the activity and eventually minimize procrastination. Making a regular schedule posted on a visible weekly calendar 📅 can remind you of the tasks that need to be finished.
- Break down big tasks into smaller and manageable chunks. This way, it won't look so daunting, and you can focus on one thing at a time. Dedicating a specific amount of time to each chunk can also help you stay on track, especially for uninteresting subjects that make your regular schedule challenging to accomplish.
- Taking breaks is essential and considered to be part of homework strategies. It can also minimize the effect of burnout. You can walk around, drink water, or do some stretching exercises during these times. Anything that can help you release the tension and give your eyes a break from staring at the screen 💻 or books for long periods.
- Write down what's distracting you. This way, you can address the root cause of your distraction and find ways to avoid or minimize them. It can be a good idea to talk about this with someone who can help you so that they will be aware and give support when needed. Updating new routines to make things work can help achieve better focus and concentration.
There will be days when we can't seem to focus no matter how hard we try. And that's okay. These days, it is essential to be patient with ourselves and take a break if needed. 😘 Pushing too hard on ourselves will only lead to more frustration and less productivity. School day and homework can be challenging, but we can get through it with the right mindset and strategies.
"Homework time doesn't have to be a battle. With a little organization and these tips, your child can take control of their ADHD and get their schoolwork done."
-Dana Rayburn, Ed.M., LPC, NCC
ADHD and Homework: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is it usual for many people with ADHD to struggle with their school work and assignments?
Many children (and even adults) with ADHD truly struggle with homeworks. This is largely because of their symptoms, like getting easily distracted, experiencing sensory overload, and being unable to focus.
Why do many people with ADHD procrastinate?
Many students with ADHD procrastinate because they do not find the task interesting enough. However, please note that reasons for procrastination can vary. An ADHD or even a neurotypical person might procrastinate because they are tired, are anxious about another thing, or not motivated well.
How can we boost our productivity when it comes to school work?
The first step is to be kind to yourself. Please don’t associate your procrastination or inability to accomplish your tasks on time with laziness. Your ADHD brain just works differently. Next is to tackle the problem one step at a time. For instance, if you don’t do well with distractions, try to have a dedicated workspace where it’s quiet.