With school getting underway, I thought it would be a perfect time to write a blog about homework. Each school year we hear about the hardship of homework completion. There are many kids who fight doing homework. For those with ADHD (and we work with a lot of these kids) getting homework done is even harder.
Kids spend the school day doing their best to focus and get their work done. By the end of the day many of them are just done! They are tired and the thought of homework pushes them over the edge. Kids may refuse, delay, melt down, or argue. They are tired and you are too. If this sounds familiar read on for some ideas on how to get through homework time.
- Ask your child what he/she thinks would be helpful to make the process go smoother. Many kids know themselves really well and have great ideas. By asking them for ideas you are teaching them problem solving skills. They can suggest ideas and you can also suggest ideas (some of the ideas you can suggest are listed below). Together you can come up with a plan. By doing this, you get their buy in, which means you will be on the same team instead of fighting against each other. As part of the plan you can agree to try a method for at least two weeks before choosing to keep it or discard it. One bad day does not mean a plan has failed. Look for trends. Is homework time going a little better? Is it staying the same? Is it getting worse? Make sure to check in with your child to get their input on how the plan is working. Also remember, one strategy does not work for everyone. You may have some trial and error before finding what works best for your family.
- Set a routine. There are many of us who are engaged in a variety of after school activities. For some people it is after school care. Others engage in different sports or music lessons. There are many of you who come see us after school for counseling or neurofeedback. How can you set a routine when each day looks so different? The answer? Each day can have a different routine, but one that you stick to on that day. If your child knows when homework needs to be completed it can take away some of the negotiating.
- Pay attention to time of day. Doing homework earlier in the evening is always better. As the evening wears on everyone gets more tired. It is more difficult for kids to focus and more difficult for you to be patient. With some schedules later evening homework is necessary.
- If at all possible, have a set place to do homework where there are minimal distractions. This will make it easier to focus on the task at hand. Bedrooms are not a good place for homework. Bedrooms should be used for sleeping only. This helps the body turn off and fall asleep at night.
- None of us focus as well on an empty stomach. If they are hungry, be sure your child has had a healthy snack before getting started.
- A lot of kids benefit from using a timer when homework takes longer. You can set the timer for 15-20 minutes of work time. After 15-20 minutes set the timer for a 5 minute break. After the break set it again for 15-20 minutes of work time. Repeat the process until the work is done. During the break time it is important to get movement in. There is plenty of research indicating exercise increasing focus. Although breaks are good for all of us, there are some kids who have too much difficulty transitioning back into their work; however for many kids this strategy is a winner!
- Work before play. As adults we know we have to do our work before we get to play. We can’t decide to blow off our responsibilities for fun or in the end our life will not be so great. Kids need to learn this too. Our kids today LOVE their media. A good rule is to allow media once homework is completed. Play is our reward for finishing our work:)
I know for a lot of families these strategies are easier said than done. If you need help, please reach out! Give us a call at 702-583-9332. Hope your school year is off to a great start!
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!