ADHD can hinder your child’s ability to focus, create goals, prioritize their work and stay organized. You can help combat the symptoms of ADHD with a well-designed space for school projects. A workspace free from distraction can keep kids on track. Take into account the location of the desk, the supplies at hand, the organization of the space and special systems that will help develop good work habits.
Your child’s workspace should be in an area where he won’t be distracted. It should be away from any external stimuli, like the television, or an area where people congregate and socialize. The workspace shouldn’t be in the child’s room, as the bedroom is an area for play and for sleep, which may cause distraction.
Create an office space in a spare room, with a designed environment conducive for focused work. If you don’t have a spare room that can be used as an office, find an area in another room that can fit a desk. The desk should be away from a window and face a wall. Make sure the desk is equipped with drawers, so your child has everything they need within reach and won’t have to leave the work area for resources or supplies. If your child is prone to lots of movement and fidgeting, consider a standing desk. This type of desk will allow necessary movement, but still provides a space where he can work.
Limit the amount of supplies in your child’s workspace. An excess of supplies and tools could cause distraction from the tasks at hand. For example, sets of colored pencils and markers could lead him down a road towards a coloring, artistic excursion. While, it’s great that he expresses his creativity, you don’t want his work to suffer.
If your child needs a break from his homework, provide him with fun academic exercises like word games and puzzles. These exercises will keep his brain engaged and also help him practice his focus. Check in periodically and assess which specific supplies are needed for homework. Set up a supply station so they can have a successful work session free from interruption.
Children with ADHD often have a difficult time prioritizing, goal-setting and managing their time. Help manage these issues with a strong organizational system. Keep a clock at the desk so the child can monitor his time. Place a large calendar near the workspace, so your child can keep track of their homework due dates and activities. Have a designated space for your child’s completed assignments and new assignments. A cork board, hung above the desk, is helpful to separate daily homework tasks, larger projects and any other visual information your child may need.
Help your child develop positive study and work habits. Have him set time goals before he begins his work, so he can keep on track and have a steady flow of productivity. On the wall-space, near the desk, have posters that provide your child with touch-points for the moments when he feels distracted or frustrated. For example, when he begins a project he should run through the following checklist:
- What is the due date for the project?
- What is the project’s big idea?
- How can you break down the big idea into smaller ideas?
- Create a time schedule or a priority schedule for the task.
- When finished: check work, polish and have a tidy presentation of your project.
- Clean your workspace.
Joyce Wilson loved being a teacher, and though she has recently retired, she hasn’t lost that passion. She continues to educate (and help educators) by mentoring teachers in her area. She is also the co-creator of TeacherSpark.org, a resource for teachers to gather fun, engaging lesson ideas and activities.