Kids with neuro-developmental problems like learning disorders, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, and processing disorders often struggle to complete their homework in an organized and timely fashion. Many parents complain that their child struggles with even the simplest homework tasks and that study time is a nightly battle that can take hours. As the school year begins to wind down and the weather gets warmer, exhausted kids who are looking forward to summer break may struggle even more to complete their homework without an argument or meltdown. Multiple factors may be contributing to your child's homework struggles. Find below some common roadblocks to homework success and tips that will help ease the daily battle:
Sensory overload and/or attention issues If your child has ADHD or sensory processing disorder, it's no secret that normal sounds or movements 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 he or she is sure to run out of steam when it's time to study.
Learning differences and preferences Even if your child hasn't been diagnosed with a learning disability, he or she may have a processing disorder or learning preference that interferes with his or her ability to complete homework tasks with ease.
Poor Executive Function Skills Executive function skills are a set of processes that allow people to remember pertinent details and then strategically plan, prioritize, organize, and complete related tasks. If your child has poor executive function skills, it can interfere with his or her ability to follow through.
Create an organizational structure. Make sure your child knows where to write his or her 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 or she has ideas for homework success. If possible, agree on a maximum time the child will spend on homework each night. If your child excels at spelling but needs extra math practice, ask his or her 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 snack after school, 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 who need it get 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 after 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 his or her success.
Give your child some control. Allow children to choose which homework assignment to do first 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, he or 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 benefit from short bursts of studying instead of marathon study sessions. Consider using a timer to ensure a child stays on schedule throughout work time and break time.
Consider your child's learning style. Some children are visual learners 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. Allow children who successfully complete homework for a week to earn a special privilege. Whether it be extra screen time or a family outing, let your child know you appreciate his or her effort and accomplishments. Verbal praise for a job well done during 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.
Seek professional help. If your child has a learning or behavioral disorder that contributes to daily homework battles, we invite to consider The Brain Balance Program.