ADHD & Reading: 4 Simple Ways To Support Your Child At Home

By Stephanie Bayona, MS. Ed., ET and Sean McCormick, M. Ed., ET

Are you struggling to get your child with ADHD to complete their reading assignments at home? Does it feel like everything you try makes them (and you!) even more frustrated? Read on to learn some simple strategies you can use at home that can help reading assignments become more manageable and less stressful.

Reading is a very complex process that requires many moving parts to work in unison in our brains. Being a good reader requires you to have good working memory, flexible thinking, decodability of words, and the ability to sustain focus and attention for an extended period of time, among many other skills. These exact skills are typically lacking in children with ADHD, which is why reading can be extra challenging for them. Here are a few tips for helping them overcome their reading difficulties.

Chunk reading assignments

In order to avoid the overwhelming feeling of having to read a long text or book, help your child break up the reading into smaller pieces, or chunks. The pieces can be spread out over one day or several days depending on the length of the reading (for example, read 5 pages a day for a week or read two paragraphs every hour until bedtime). This strategy is especially helpful for children who have a hard time focusing for long periods of time or those who haven’t yet developed their working memory. The simple act of breaking reading into smaller parts can help children feel less overwhelmed by the task and in turn, develop a more positive emotional relationship with reading. Chunking makes the task of reading seem more feasible and can feel less daunting.

Annotate the text

Research has shown that there is a cognitive benefit in writing things down. Study after study has proven that when we write things down, we are far more likely to remember important information versus just frivolous details. This is why annotating can be so beneficial for students with ADHD. The simple act of writing down thoughts, reactions, connections, story elements, questions, and unfamiliar words while reading a text is extremely powerful in helping a student improve their comprehension. The annotations can later be used as a review of the text’s important details or to help summarize what was read. The best annotating technique is to simply write directly on the text itself, or on the margins of the page. If your child’s teacher does not allow writing in the book or text they are reading, provide your child with sticky notes or a journal to keep their annotations in.

Make connections

Another way to help ensure that the information being read is stored into our long-term memory is to make connections to things we already know. How can this help a child with ADHD their reading skills? There are three main types of connections that can be made while reading: text to text, text to world, and text to self. Finding connections, or relationships, between the text you are reading and another text you’ve read in the past would be a text to text connection. When you connect the reading to personal experiences or similarities to something in your life, you are making a text to self connection. If the connection is related to something occurring in society, the government, the media, or world events, it would be a text to world connection. Encourage your child to think about how what they are reading relates to these three types of connections and have them explain to you orally.

Take breaks

Homework can be tiring, especially if it requires the student to read long texts and stay focused for a long time. Children can’t learn if they are upset and disengaged, so avoid the frustration by showing your child how to take breaks. One technique that may work well for children with ADHD is called the Pomodoro Technique. The way it works is that the student uses a timer (set to 20–25 minutes) to track their “time on task” (here is an example of one I like to use.) When the timer goes off, the student takes a 5–10 minute break, which can include a micro-reward (a yummy snack or a quick fun exercise of their choice!) to help keep them motivated. This cycle is repeated until the assignment or task is completed. Taking mental and physical breaks from homework can mean the difference between a total meltdown or total success!

If you’d like to learn more about how our coaches can help your child with ADHD strengthen their reading skills, schedule a free 15-minute inquiry meeting at efspecialists.com or send us an email at info@efspecialists.com.

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