ADD/ADHD Writing Strategies​

Students with ADHD or ADD often feel like writing is an overwhelming task. There are so many pieces to keep track of, so much to organize and plan.


The best way I have found for helping improve confidence with and proficiency in writing is to help students break writing down into small tasks and to teach them organization strategies.


Create small, manageable goals

The first thing I do is help students take the big assignment and set specific goals for each piece that needs to get done. For instance, for an essay, they may need to brainstorm, do research/find quotes, create a word web, write an outline, and write each section of the essay.


Smaller assignments need smaller chunks or less pieces, but the idea is the same. Writing this all out or drawing it into a visual organizer can help them understand what steps are needed.


I also encourage students to start well ahead of time, usually as soon as they find out about the assignment. This way they can work on it piece by piece rather than in one long harried afternoon or night the day before it's due.


Help them get organized

Two tools I use with all my writing students are word webs (also called mind maps or graphic organizers) and outlines. A quick Google search will turn up many mind mapping apps and web sites (Go Conqr and Popplet are two) and I can also provide hard-copy examples to students. Once a student has created their mind map, they can use it as a guide to create an outline. I still use the traditional outlining method with Roman numerals and letters and teach this to students. There is a learning curve here, so practicing using these methods with each writing assignment will help your child become comfortable with them.


Spell check is their friend

Spelling can be challenging for students with ADD/ADHD. Encourage your child to use spell check and dictionaries, and always have them check written work for spelling errors. Although most software will alert writers to spelling errors, some are hard to catch like there, their, and they're, so developing an eye for common mistakes is key.


Editing and revising

Editing and revising are two of students’ least favorite activities. But encouraging them to check their work for errors now will make them stronger writers in the future. If you are helping them with their editing and revising, it is good to tell them why something is incorrect so they can understand why the correction is necessary and learn from their mistake.


I always remind students that every single writer out there, even JK Rowling, needs to edit and revise their work, often multiple times. It's just part of the process. Incorporating these methods into your child’s writing time can help them become more confident, successful writers.​