study strategies for ADHD

Five Study strategies for ADHD

I’m a very organized person. I love a schedule and sticking to it! My teen with ADHD also flourishes with a schedule, but on his own, he often lacks the organizational skills to succeed with one. I’ve discovered that it takes active practice (and some instruction from mom and dad) for my teen to learn study strategies for ADHD. Here’s what’s been working for us, and why.

Break study time into smaller chunks

It’s hard to sit still and concentrate for longer periods of time if you have ADHD, so breaking study time into shorter bursts of focus can help. Set a timer or use a time management app to keep track of study blocks, and then be sure to reward kids with break time, too. During my teen’s break, he likes to get some fresh air and exercise, play a short game on his phone, or grab a snack. Breaks are especially important for kids and teens who are remote learning and on their computers for many hours per day.

Complete smaller tasks first

For most of us, whether to tackle small tasks first in our day or bite the bullet and go directly to the hardest task is a matter of preference. When you add ADHD to the mix, however, tackling the most difficult task of the day first can feel daunting. It usually takes the most time, and by the time your kid or teen is finished, they’re exhausted. But if they tackle their easiest tasks first, they’ll check off more boxes more swiftly, which elevates their sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, the same number of tasks are done, but the mind is ‘tricked’ into feeling more successful.

Keep a notepad nearby for lists and stray thoughts

The ADHD mind is incredibly active…and each swirling thought can be a potential distraction. It helps to ‘remove’ stray thoughts and even useful to-do items from the head and onto a piece of paper. This frees your kid or teen to concentrate only on what is right in front of him or her. Plus, keeping a list or notes helps teach organizational skills that many kids and teens with ADHD lack.

Practice ‘active’ studying

Instead of studying for a test by re-reading the material–which is a passive activity–try creating your own practice test or using flashcards. Parents can make it into a game, giving your child points for each correct answer. When we use flashcards, my son has as many times as he needs to get an answer correct, but he only ‘wins’ once all the cards are in the discard pile.

Schedule study time

‘Cramming’ won’t work for kids with ADHD. Teach organizational skills by looking ahead in the schedule and planning for study time. We use a simple weekly homework chart, on which we write in test days, plus scheduled study time at least 2-3 days prior (if the teacher gives this much notice). This way, studying is broken down into more manageable chunks (see above), plus more information is retained for a longer period of time. (Remember cramming for tests in college? I bet you only remembered that information for about 12 hours!)

Study strategies for ADHD

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Study strategies for teens and kids with ADHD

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