‘Helping Kids With Homework Part 1’ by Deb Hopper and published in Great Health Guide (September 2017). Some children find it difficult to sit down and focus on doing homework as they may be tired, distracted or just want to play. However as parents, you can support your child and make this task a little easier and fun by creating an optimal learning space. In the first part of this fantastic two-part article, occupational therapist Deb Hopper shares her tips on creating the ideal environment to assist your child when doing homework.
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Parenting: Helping Kids With Homework Part 1
written by Deb Hopper
Helping children of all ages settle down and focus on homework after school or on weekends can seem like an impossible task. On week days, children have been concentrating, taking in information for most of the school day and settling back into school work is often the last thing they are wanting to do. Weekends are just for fun.
Many teachers these days are providing creative projects such as making up maths games, making recycled craft or asking children to draw a map of their local area, which can be much more fun than traditional homework. However, whether home work is reading, spelling, maths and traditional bookwork or more creative projects, often the homework battle can feel like a black cloud looming.
HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS THAT MAY ASSIST YOUR CHILD WHEN DOING HOMEWORK.
1. Children can experience stress when thinking about starting homework.
Just as adults, if the perceived challenges outweigh the child’s capacity or energy, they can experience stress and become overwhelmed. A fun way to get started is to create a grid of say nine spaces, where the homework for the week (or day for older children) is divided into nine different smaller tasks, which are written onto the grid. The simple act of seeing what homework needs to be completed, can help to reduce some of the stress and not
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be overwhelmed. It helps the child to pick out one or two activities to start with e.g. writing down spelling words. Once this is completed, it is crossed out on the grid, so they can see progress, like playing tic-tac-toe. Often after they finish a couple of easy tasks, the challenge of the game kicks in and they want to keep going.
2. Support the sensory needs of your child.
It is also important to support the sensory needs of a child, in preparation for doing
homework. After sitting in class for most of the day, it is really important to encourage them to move and ‘fill up’ their nervous system before starting homework. This will help reduce any feelings of being overwhelmed, help them feel grounded, refreshed and help them to be able to focus and complete their homework quicker.
3. When does your child have high energy?
In addition, consider the times of the day when your child has high energy. Are they a night owl or a morning person? If you child is extremely tired in the afternoon/evening, maybe doing reading practice in bed, first thing in the morning, or setting the alarm for an older child for 5.30am, may help them complete assignments in their strength zones.
4. When is the best time for ‘brain work’?
Just as adults are aware of times that are best for ‘brain work’, we can observe our children, suggest and gently guide them to trial different strategies. We have built our own learning strategies over many years. Rather than forcing the issue of homework with our children, let’s support them in looking for their peak performance times and suggest activities and routines that support their learning and homework practice time.
In the next issue of GHGTM , I will discuss the top six ways to help a child settle into doing their homework with less tears.
Author of this article:
Deb Hopper, Occupational Therapist, author & workshop presenter. Deb is passionate about empowering parents and educators to understand the underlying reasons of why children struggle with behaviour, self-esteem and sensory processing difficulties. As a practicing, Occupational Therapist, she understands the daily struggles that children, parents and teachers face. Deb is the co-author of the CD SensorySongsforTots, and author of Reducing Meltdowns and Improving Concentration: The Just Right Kids Technique. Deb is available for clinic & phone/Skype consultations (02 6555 9877) & can be reached on her website.
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