"Michael get down here now! You haven't finished your homework! Ugh!"
Sound familiar? Who hasn't lived through homework struggles? We know that homework can be a challenge both for parents, students and, yes, even teachers. But, it is, to some degree, necessary. Yet sitting down to focus after hours of being in school is quite challenging for most of us, especially those of us with attention or sensory processing challenges. Take a look at a few tips that might just smooth your afternoon and evening homework routines.
1. Block Out Distractions: Whether your child tends to be highly distracted by sights or sounds, there are tools that can really help while doing schoolwork. Try using Noise Reduction Headphones or noise reduction ear buds if your child tends to be easily distracted by even soft noises. Also try providing a desktop carrel (visual barrier) for blocking out visual distractions and also encouraging visual attention. You can put lists, directions or reminders on the inside of the carrel to help your child stay focused.
2. Or…Plug in Some Music: Some individuals work well with music in the background. Studies have shown that Mozart is particularly beneficial to encouraging calm, focus and attention. But you can try any soft, classical music to start. Rhythm can also be beneficial to helping your kids with internal organizational skills. I like to suggest a metronome for keeping kids on task.
3. Moving in Place: If your child can't sit still, try a wiggle cushion or therapy ball in place of a standard chair. It will allow your child to wiggle and move while they learn. If you have a child who can't sit at all, try a balance board to stand and learn.
4. Keep Time: Use a timer to keep your child on task. We love the Time Timer which shows time elapsing, but just about any timer can be used. One that is visual and with an auditory beep is great for setting time limits to homework.
5. Movement Breaks: Make sure your child has movement breaks before, during and after homework. Eye hand coordination is particularly helpful for organizing the brain and keeping your kids on task.
Of course, don't forget to fuel the brain and the mouth! To ensure proper nutrition and adequate glucose levels, be sure a snack is provided before homework, and, the crunchier the better. The mouth is a terrific organizer. Your child may also benefit from chewing gum or sucking on a lollipop or chewing on a chewy while working.