Take The Work Out Of Your Kid’s Homework

Dr. Robert Melillo

Kids with a brain imbalance typically struggle to complete their homework  in an organized and timely fashion. For many parents, even the simplest homework tasks can be a struggle, and study time is a nightly battle  that can take hours. Most likely, there are multiple factors contributing to your child’s homework struggles. These are those roadblocks and  what you can do to help make homework time more of a pleasure. 

Homework Roadblocks

Sensory overload and/or attention issues. If  your child  has ADHD or a sensory processing disorder, it’s no secret that normal sounds or move-ments like a knock at the front door or a sibling playing nearby can inhibit their  ability to complete homework. Add in the fact that the child may already be experiencing sensory overload from a stressful day at school, and they are sure to run out of steam when homework time rolls around.

Learning differences and preferences. Even if your child hasn’t been diagnosed with a learning disability, they may have a processing disorder or  learning preference that interferes with their ability to complete homework tasks with ease.

Poor  executive  function skills. Executive  function is  the umbrella term for the set of skills governing more sophisticated skills involving the  ability to plan, prioritize, organize, and complete related tasks. Poor executive function skills can interfere with your child’s ability to follow through.

Homework Solutions

Create an organizational structure. Make sure your child has a set place to complete their homework assignments each day, and create a process for remembering necessary items and returning homework to school. Consider  keeping duplicate tools at home and at school to eliminate the frustration of forgotten items. For example, it may be necessary to keep a separate set of protractors, calculators, and other necessities at school and at home.

Communicate  with your child’s  school. Reach  out to  your child’s teacher to see if he has ideas for homework success. If possible, agree on a maximum time your child will spend on homework each night. If your  child excels at spelling but needs extra math practice, ask his teacher to help you tailor homework assignments to better meet your child’s needs.

Minimize distractions. Make sure hunger is not an issue by providing a healthy after-school snack , and make sure siblings are ready for quiet time even if they don’t have homework to complete. Ensure your child’s homework  space is free of clutter and contains all items needed to complete the work.

Minimize  sensory overload.  Give  kids a  break after  school before beginning homework. For younger kids, swinging is a great way to calm the  nervous system and organize the senses. For older kids, this may mean quietly completing  chores, exercising, or reading. Screen time should not be allowed until homework is complete.

Set a schedule. Let  your child  help you decide  on a time each day that homework must begin. Depending on after-school activities, this schedule may change for different days of the week. Post the schedule to avoid negotiations and confusion later.Be available. Children with learning and behavioral disorders often need a parent nearby to help them stay focused on the task at hand. Be available for questions, and let your child know you are invested in her success.

Give your child some control.  Allow children to choose which home-work assignment to do !rst or choose a new quiet workspace. Giving kids some control can help ease their frustration.Chunk large tasks.If your child has a paper or project due, she may be overwhelmed with the size of the task. Help your child break a large task  into smaller ones, and add one of the smaller tasks to the daily schedule.

Allow  for breaks  and movement.  Kids  with attention  and sensory issues may do best if they are allowed to stand, wiggle, and move while they study. They may also bene!t from short bursts of studying instead of  a marathon study session. Consider using a timer to ensure that your child stays on schedule throughout work time and break time. 

Consider your child’s learning style. Some children are visual learn-ers and may respond better to charts, graphs, puzzles, and pictures to learn  new concepts. For verbal learners, consider having them read passages out loud to help them prepare for a test. Catering homework to your child’s learning style may ease frustration.

Reward your child’s success. Reward children who successfully com-plete homework for a full week with a special privilege. Whether it be extra screen time or a family outing, let your child know you appreciate their effort and accomplishments. Verbal praise for a job well done dur-ing the week is important as well.Consider  a tutor or homework club. Some children will respond better to an alternative authority figure when completing homework. Additionally, completing homework at your public library or local bookstore may help. Be creative, and consider your child’s personality when trying new ideas to ease homework battles.