Parenting

Reading, Writing, & Math Strategies for Children with ADHD

This article has been medically-reviewed by:

If you have a child with ADHD, you know that reading, writing and math can be three difficult subjects for your child for the key reason that they require sustained attention. 

Generally, reading takes place by sitting down, opening a book, reading silently and processing what was read over several pages at a time. 

With writing, your child has to generate a thesis and support it using multiple paragraphs or ideas (sometimes with an introduction and conclusion as well!). 

Most types of math require sequencing and follow-through from one step to the next. All of these tasks not only require focus but sequencing, planning, working memory, and some form of verbal or written output.   

The multiple demands of these three subjects are likely to make them your child’s least favorite.

With that said, how do you get through them? With the Core Curriculum Standards, we know they are here to stay and they are only going to become more complex year after year.

Learning Strategies for Children with ADHD

Here are some strategies for you to use at home and for your teacher to use at school. 

These are great accommodations to add to your child’s 504 Accommodation Plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP):

Math

Your child’s natural affinity may be for Math, but once they leave single digit addition and subtraction, there are just too many steps to remember.

Try these tips:

  • Encourage the child to talk out loud while they are solving a problem. This will help to maintain focus and follow through
  • Have the child solve one or two problems per page. A high number of problems on a page is discouraging and can lead to meltdowns or refusal
  • Decrease the number of problems required to show mastery of a concept (repetition gets boring)

Writing

There are a handful of writing problems children with AHDH deal with. When it comes to writing, having to sit down, think of ideas and then create a coherent essay is not only something your child will run away from, but he will fight you every word of the way.  

The more visual you can make it, the better.

Try these tips:

Create a visual depiction of the essay and use a white board with different colors. Talk about it in detail. The more you can visually and verbally depict, the easier the writing process will become. Encourage your child to be creative – start with a question, a joke or an interesting fact, and end the essay in the same way.

  • Encourage use of a graphic organizer prior to writing tasks so that your child is able to think through their ideas out loud and in writing
  • Edit essays by reading out loud
  • Use dictation software programs in order to prepare essays or research projects. This will serve to improve and maintain flow of ideas

Reading

Think about it, your child has to process what they are  reading… silently…. and stay focused when the story gets boring. So, what to do?

Try these tips:

  • Encourage your child to read out loud (written work or books) to maintain attention and improve comprehension.
  • Provide audible books or books on tape

Additional Tips

Below we outline a few additional tips to help your child with ADHD with reading, writing, and math.

  • Allow your child to take a test in another room that has few distractions if she is losing focus and concentration due to extraneous movement and sound
  • Allow your child to be seated in an area of the classroom that is away from major distractions (e.g., window or door)
  • Allow your child to take breaks in order to improve focus and attention to task
  • Discuss with your child their understanding of a new concept as this may help them make connections