Coach of the Week- Louise Derzansky

Dealing with Homework Battles

 As parents, we often face frustration getting our children to complete daily homework assignments. I’ve heard “battle” stories from numerous parents.

An article that was originally posted in August 2010 on the CHADD (Children and Adults With Attention- Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder) website offers advice from a few experts.  Much of this advice can be useful for dealing with all children – not just those with ADD/ADHD.  I’ve summarized some of the experts’ suggestions below:

1) Establish good processes

 “Process is more important than product”, states Maureen A. McQuiggan, EdD – a school district literacy coordinator.

She suggests creating “process cards” with our children – each containing clear, simple steps for completing a homework task.  Each step on the card should have a check box to encourage a sense of accomplishment when checked.

She also suggests keeping reading assignments active to keep the brain engaged.  For example, ask your child to locate key ideas in the reading, or to color-code answers to questions.

2) Reduce the high demands on your child

Courtney Colio, MSEd – a 5th grade teacher – talks about the high demands of today’s daily routines for our children and often difficult transitions from school and/or extra-curricular activities to home.

 “Only so much can be expected at home from all children”.  She recommends communicating with your child’s teachers about homework issues – including the struggles taking place at home and the possibility of “differentiating the assignment to meet the strengths” of your child.

 Examine your child’s particular learning style, utilizing their natural strengths (art, music, etc.). Since my daughter loves to sing, I sometimes get her to sing spelling words and math facts.

3) Hire a homework helper

This can be a college or high school student who is mature and well organized.  Rates are cheaper than with a regular tutor.

A homework helper who is both kind and firm can help your child organize their backpack and homework materials and relieve you of much of the oversight duty.

4) Homework rituals

These are very important, according to Jim Karustis, PhD, a psychiatrist in private practice.

Begin homework at the same time each day, if possible, in a quiet location dedicated to homework.  Eliminate background noise as much as possible, but keep in mind that some children concentrate better with low background music.

5) Provide effective positive reinforcement strategies

This is recommended by Thomas J. Power, PhD, a professor of pediatrics and education.

Consult school guidance counselors or outside professionals for specific advice if necessary.  Also break up homework into manageable chunks.

6) Encourage small steps

Help your child “discover success in small, continuous steps”, advises Meghan S. Leahy, MS, director of Leahy Learning.  She states that “There is no such thing as perfect, so help your students to set reasonable goals”.

In conclusion, as Dr. Karustis states, “Homework problems can truly rip families apart”. Often we need to try different, proactive approaches – for the sake of our children and ourselves.


Louise Derzansky is a professional life and ADHD coach, with a background in project management, who can help you with personal growth, focusing, relationship, and career issues.  She maintains a private practice in Queens, NY.

Louise is also an adoptive parent with a child with ADHD, so understands the challenges of both adoptive and ADHD parenting. She is a graduate of JST Coaching Teens and College Students with ADHD and our Coaching Children course.

Click here to find Louise in the JST Directory and how to connect with her.