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Five Tips for Test Prep: Better Managing Time and Sleep for Children with ADHD

Posted by Natalie Hastings on

While most kids face difficulties preparing for tests at one time or another, children with ADHD can face special challenges routinely. Thankfully, there are many ways you can help your child cope. Try these tips to help improve time management and sleep habits so your youngster can perform her best from Mark Connor, director of DriveSafely.Info, a resource for parents of children with ADHD.

Time management

Organized and efficient. Staying on task is one of the struggles that goes hand-in-hand with ADHD. Help your child stay focused by creating a quiet workspace for doing test prep. Also, Oxford Learning notes children with ADHD benefit from a consistent study schedule with built-in breaks. Since kids with ADHD have trouble focusing for extended periods, allow time away from tasks as needed, but schedule it so she returns to studying in a timely manner. Use an appropriate and reliable timing device for reminders like the Time Timer ®, which helps your child visualize time and no distracting ticking sound.

Another important time management strategy is to list all the tasks that must be accomplished each week. Include basic elements such as sleeping and eating and also include activities such as sports events, due dates for assignments, exam dates, time with friends and hobbies. Break activities into daily to-do lists, cross off accomplishments and add to the list as needed. You can post the big items on a calendar where everyone can contribute and track details on a more personal level.

Ideas and tools. Thanks to the age in which we live, there are aids and ideas for almost everything. Managing ADHD and test prep is no different. Some professionals suggest taking advantage of the many tools that can be found at your fingertips. There are wonderful time management apps available, as well as other focusing and organizational tools and concepts. For instance, one idea for helping your child to focus is to allow her to chew gum. It’s a simple way to satisfy oral-motor needs.

Or, if your child is struggling with keeping test and homework materials sorted, try putting them all into one large binder. That way everything is together instead of scattered, and you can divide the binder by subject.

Sleep habits

Sleep well. Does your child seem to wake up groggy, no matter how much sleep she gets? It could be the quality, rather than quantity, of sleep your child is receiving. Children with ADHD whose sleep quality is poor experience more behavioral issues, reduced quality of life and poorer daily functioning, such as the ability to prepare for the school day.  

Look for ways to improve your child’s sleep environment. Keep the bedroom a place specifically for sleeping. Discourage your child from doing homework in her room, and prohibit use of electronics in the bedroom. You should also consider the quality of your child’s mattress. For instance an older, worn mattress could be part of the problem. As Mattress Advisor explains, “While it’s not an exact science, the general rule is that you should change your mattress every 7-10 years.” Consider an upgrade to improve sleep quality if your youngster’s mattress is old and worn out.

What’s more, improving your child’s quality of sleep could impact you in very direct ways: according to studies cited by Reuters, not only will getting a good night’s sleep help your child’s performance, your own job performance could improve as well. When your child’s sleep habits are suffering, your own mental health and work attendance also declines.

Improved habits. Being sleep deprived can hurt your child’s performance on tests. There are several ways to encourage better sleep habits. For instance, you can set firm bedtimes for your child and avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Some studies show children with ADHD can take a particularly long time to unwind at night, so it’s paramount to ensure your youngster follows an evening routine.

Rested and organized. Managing time and sleep habits in children with ADHD can be challenging. However thoughtful strategies can help keep you and your child on track. Ensure your youngster is getting a good night’s sleep, and employ smart tools for staying organized and timely. You can help your child do her best on tests.

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