by Bri Dandrea
The school year has just gotten underway and it can be hard to transition from summer to the new school year for kids, and homework is one of the pieces of the school puzzle that often leads to increased frustration. Both parents and children can feel the frustration of homework. However, there are ways to make homework less painful and stressful.
Start by establishing a dedicated space for homework and school projects. This space should be quiet with no distractions. This means no TVs in sight, no phones in the space, and gaming systems & radios should be put away. A good desk and chair are necessary. The desk should be big enough to spread out papers as needed. The desk should be at elbow height when seated in a chair. If you have small children, small pillows or a pad can be added to the chair to seat the child higher into the correct position. Likely, if you add a pad to the chair, the child’s feet won’t be touching the floor. It is important for feet to be flat on a surface, so add a step stool that will allow the child’s feet to touch the ground.
Once your space is established, work on organizing the space. Make sure all the necessary supplies are within the space. Pencils, scratch paper, glue sticks, colored pencils, crayons, or markers can be helpful. Highlighters, a ruler, and a pair of scissors may also be helpful. All of these supplies should have a home so they are not in the way. If the desk area doubles as a dining room table or has another function, you can organize a homework tote with all the supplies. This can easily be carried from spot to spot if needed.
Next, have a set time for homework. Set aside a time to start homework, either right after school or after dinner. It should be the same time every night for consistency. The time you set aside might not always be the best time, and it is okay to change the time occasionally. Make sure this is well communicated with your child so the expectation of completing is still there. A half hour to an hour of time should be set aside to allow the child to get their homework done. This amount of time will depend on how old the child is, and how much time their teacher recommends.
Finally, for large projects, plan out time in advance to work on the project. So for example, set aside an extra 15-20 minutes to work on the project each night or every other night, depending on how far in advance the project is started. This will help prevent the last minute rush to get projects done. From experience, I do know that waiting until the last minute to complete a project is very stressful, and can cause chaos in the household.
Hopefully these tips help make homework a breeze. Even just implementing one or two of these tips will be helpful. Kids thrive on consistency and support. Find a system that works and stick with it.
Bri Dandrea, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist, Pediatric Specialist, LSVT-BIG