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Homework…it’s one of those words that not a single member of my family likes. For the longest time, homework for us was a nightly battle filled with screaming and tears. 20 minutes worth of work would literally take us hours. It wasn’t pretty. Then I learned these simple tricks to end homework battles that changed the entire way that we were approaching homework and greatly reduced the amount of conflict there was in our home over homework.
Whether you homeschool or use a traditional school, schoolwork can be a major endeavour for most families. In addition to being stressful to you and your child(ren), homework when not assigned and handled properly can actually lead to children loosing their love of learning. While homework does have it’s place in learning, making sure it doesn’t discourage your child is extremely important.
Understanding Homework Battles
The first step in improving anything is understanding what needs to be fixed, why it is happening, and where things can be changed. The three areas below were our main areas of struggle.
1. Physical Needs – If your child is fighting, whining, or crying this is the first area that I would look at. Is your child hungry? Did they get enough sleep? Is their something that is causing them physical discomfort?
2. Sensory Needs – Sensory affects every single one of us, not just children with special needs. If you have met all of your children’s physical needs and they are still have outbursts, difficultly focusing, fidgeting, or seem disorganized Figuring out what their sensory needs are and meeting them may help. This is one of the many reasons that brain breaks are so effective in classrooms!
3. Cognitive/Emotional Needs – For my daughter, one of her biggest roadblocks was seeing her pile of homework and becoming overwhelmed. Without even looking at what was on each page, she would decided that she wasn’t capable of accomplishing it due to being overwhelmed by the volume of work. For my son, he needs praise and reassurance to help keep him focused and on track otherwise he attempts to speed through and get sloppy with his work. Cognitive and emotional needs can be a very big key to the homework battle. If you have gone through the steps of meeting your child’s physical and sensory needs then more than likely your child’s frustrations stem from this area.
Simple Tricks to End Homework Battles
Tip #1 Take a Break
It’s easy to want to sit down and have your kids complete all of their homework at once, but you shouldn’t have your kids do all of their homework in one long string. However, sitting for that long is a really big expectation for kids. Instead break it up into 20 minute increments. If your child is still struggling with their work during that time period break it up into smaller chunks such as 5 or 10 minutes. We love our visual timer that we were sent from Fun and Function, “I’m Working Towards” Printable, and our Brain Break Cards to help us stay on track. You can find a free printable below for these items.
Tip #2 Conceal and Conquer
For kids that are easily overwhelmed, breaking work up into sections is a fantastic way to help them focus on what they are doing right now. Some of our favorite tools for doing this are a Start/Finish Basket (or folder) and two sheets of paper that are used cover parts of the worksheets that the child is not working on.
Tip #3 Set the Environment
Take a good critical look at the environment that your child will be working in. Is it too hot? Too cold? How is the lighting? Are there a lot of visual distractions? Some of our favorite ways to create a productive environment for our children is to use a specific area for homework with a desktop study carrell, fidgets, and an essential oils diffuser. Our favorite oils to boost attention and focus are – Cedarwood, Valor, Peppermint, Citrus Fresh, and Peace & Calming.
Tip #4 Fidget
Tip #5 Get Visual
Help children see their progress by using visual tools such as the Time Tracker. One of the things that I love about this tool is that in addition to giving a visual cue (Green – Yellow – Red) it also allows you to set auditory cues. Currently, we do homework in 10-minute chunks. At 5 minutes it switches to yellow, and at 45 seconds it switches to red. Once the timer is up it says all done letting my daughter know she can take a break. At this time, she takes a PECS card from her “I’m Working Towards” Worksheet and marks off the 10-minutes she has completed. Then she takes her quick break and we return to the cycle. This process has been huge in helping my daughter manage her schoolwork.
About Fun and Function:
Fun and Function is the leading resource of kid-friendly sensory tools. Fun and Function’s goal is empowering different and believes that differences make the world a better, more fun, and more interesting place to be.
Fun and Function was started by occupational therapist and mom (of 8!) Aviva Weiss because she couldn’t find kid-friendly sensory tools that would fit her family’s needs. She channeled her frustration and turned it into a passion for creating the best sensory toys and tools on the planet.
Improving the lives of kids with special needs is Fun and Function’s driving mission. Everything they make is kid-friendly, affordable, and most importantly, makes a real developmental and therapeutic difference in the lives of children.
This FREE packet is filled with 7 pages worth of worksheets and PECS to help your child confidently complete their homework. Packet includes items such as Brain Break Cards, Reading Log, I’m Working Towards, and Visual Aides.
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