February 23, 2015

Homework can be a frustrating time for many students and their families. Many students with learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, and other conditions tend to become dysregulated during challenging tasks such as homework. The reasons for struggling with homework can be different for every student; however, we have found that certain strategies tend to be helpful with most students.

Here are some strategies that may be helpful:

Setting up the optimum environment

  • Identify the best room and location in the house where your child should do his or her homework; a quiet room without siblings, TV, and computer games is usually best
  • Providing a work space free of clutter can be important in setting the stage for success; attention should also be given to having a chair that provides adequate postural support, proper height ratio between chair and desk, and a work surface that is large enough for the child’s homework needs

Creating a homework routine

  • Most children respond better to having a predictable homework routine. For example, the expectation of coming home after school, having a snack, and starting homework is likely to help decrease the resistance to doing homework. While a short snack break before homework is often beneficial, a longer break where the child gets to play can make it more difficult to stop the fun stuff and start homework

Utilizing movement breaks

  • Many children with attention difficulties and sensory processing issues can benefit from taking movement breaks. When you feel that your child is no longer able to focus on the task and is becoming increasingly distracted, fidgety, or resistant, it maybe time to take a short movement break. The parameters of the break should be well defined in advance (location, activity during the break, duration)
  • An example of a break may be to walk around the house to get a sip of water, check on the pets, walk out to the yard, etc. It should be kept to a few minutes (under 5 minutes is often sufficient). Activities should not be too entertaining as for example playing with the computer, as it would most likely make it more difficult for the child to return to homework

Providing organizational supports

  • Many students can struggle organizing themselves, which can lead to frustration. Providing organizational supports can allow the child to achieve better success with less frustration
  • Schedules can be helpful in identifying the sequence of the various homework tasks and help the student realize that there is an end to this difficult task
  • Checklists can be used to help the child remain focused on what needs to be done, and how much is left to do
  • Timers can often be helpful to boost attention, increase focus, and introduce the concept of time management
  • Present information in a way that is less overwhelming. For example, consider breaking down assignments in small sections that will look more achievable to your child

Using effective communication strategies to give directions, feedback, and to set limits

  • We often tend to talk too much! A child who is overwhelmed by the homework tasks may become even more overwhelmed by being given too much information, even when done with the best intentions. Parents may become frustrated in response to their child’s frustration and focus on the child’s difficulties and negative behaviors. Avoid power struggles; consider talking less, using a neutral and calm tone of voice, and acknowledging the child’s efforts and accomplishments. Give your child plenty of time to process information. For example, instead of saying, “You need to focus better,” you may say, “I know this is hard… I can tell you’re trying to focus”

We provide a variety of individualized services to help you address your child’s homework difficulties. If you would like more information, please contact us at 858-689-2027, or admin@tagforgrowth.com