Therapist Thursday….Stop the Struggles with Homework

By: Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

In many homes across the country, homework is a daily fight.  Consider these strategies to stop the tantrums and tears and make learning more enjoyable for everyone!

Identify a work area that is well lit and comfortable, and use this same area every day.  Make sure your child’s feet rest on the floor and his hips, knees and ankles are at a 90 degree angle.  An adjustable chair may work well, or find a foot rest or even a phone book to alleviate dangling of his feet. The desk or table should be at a good height, too, just below elbow height so that the elbows are at a 90 degree angle and the arms do not abduct (or wing out to the sides) when working.

  1. Create an organized workspace, free of clutter and distractions.

Utilize bins, containers and folders to organize: pens, pencils, paper, books and other supplies.  Label notebooks and folders for each subject.  Make a “To Do” and a “Completed or Ready to Turn In” folder, bin or pocket.

  1. Other environmental considerations may include:
    1. The use of a timer- it may be helpful to set a time frame for completion of work or to provide work breaks.  (Remember, heavy work is a great way to get the wiggles out while doing homework!  Have your student perform 3 of Fundanoodle’s Muscle Mover cards at each break.)
    2. Music- while some children need peace and quiet to concentrate, some work better with music.
    3. The provision of gum or a chewy or crunchy snack to foster attention and concentration
    4.  Establish a homework routine from start to finish. Print out a list if necessary.  It may look like this:

a)    Get a snack or gum
b)    Sit down at desk or established work area
c)     Unpack bag
d)    Do math
e)    Do spelling/literature
f)      Read
g)    Put homework back in folder
h)    Put folders and work back in backpack

With a little bit of work up front to establish a consistent workspace and routine, you’ll find a lot more homework being done!

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