For many individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), and even for many people without it, the idea of sitting down to study can seem daunting. A lot of people don’t exactly find studying fun, but staying focused and sitting still for long stretches can be especially difficult for people with ADHD.
If you’re a student with ADHD, or if you have children with attention-related challenges, it’s important to work on developing study skills that maximize academic payoff while minimizing angst. Here are some suggestions for making the most of study time:
- List specific study tasks as if they were daily assignments. For example, you might write out the following items and set dates to complete them.
Day 1: Read through notes.
Day 2: Write out list of key terms and definitions.
Day 3: Create trivia game where each term is worth 10 points. Have an adult, classmate, or other person ask the student to provide the term or definition and keep track of points. To make it more interesting, the student and person helping the student could take turns asking and answering questions. This may help keep the student more engaged, and the act of asking questions will also help him or her learn the material. When the student gets an item wrong, he or she should be provided with the correct answer immediately.
Day 4: Make outlines of important chapters. For textbooks, a student can copy the headings and make a few bullet points under each one.
Day 5: Take out key words from outlines and try to fill in the missing words. A student could make it into a game with points awarded, if desired.
Day 6: Practice writing out answers to essay questions from the textbook or make up questions to answer. This should be done with notes the first time to prevent learning and practicing incorrect material.
Day 7: Practice answering essay questions without notes.
- When possible, especially for younger children, try to turn studying into a game.
- For students of all ages, it is important that active study methods are used, which will encourage studying material in a manner that allows it to be better understood. It will also make it easier to retrieve information to produce on exams even when the questions don’t ask about material in the same way it was studied.
- Take frequent breaks when studying. This allows time for material to be processed and allows students to study for longer periods without being as fatigued. It is important to set a time limit on each break and resume studying as soon as the break is over.
Unfortunately, many students do not learn study skills directly in school. For individuals with ADHD, goal-oriented active study methods are especially important to keep them engaged and motivated to complete study-related tasks. If you or your child or teen struggle with study skills and need additional assistance, consider seeing an executive functioning/ADHD coach or therapist, scheduling a few sessions with a trained tutor, or seeking the help of another similar professional. It might make a big difference.
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