Raquel Bondar, MS OTR is one of our occupational therapists at The Thrive Group. In addition to her working with girls who have attention/focusing and behavioral concerns in The Thrive Group, Raquel is a mother of three and very much understands the typical struggle parents have with the daily, after-school homework time with their kids.
Here are some of Raquel’s tips and pointers to make the homework time of day go as smooth as possible.
Hunger > Homework:
A healthy snack will help a hungry child coming home from school transition to the home. Hunger can be a tantrum trigger.
A crunchy snack and a cold drink can help to stimulate your son/daughter during homework time.
As a parent, you should regulate yourselves before the kids walk in the door after school. By setting the right tone for your home, your children will feel that you are more available to them. You can eliminating some of the homework time struggle by showing them that a connection is available. If a parent can use physical touch during homework, it helps the child feel secure. The reality is, your child spends more time at school then wake time hours at home during the week. And since the teachers are dealing with a lot of kids, they don’t have the ability to always provide significant attention to each individual child. A child may be craving connection when they come home, and everything will run smoother if we give it to them right away.
For some children, the best way to achieve this is by getting down to your child’s level and asking them about their day. If they don’t give you a very detailed answer, try asking specific questions. What did you do outside today? What books did your teacher read during story time? What type of art did you do today?
This helps strike up a better conversation with young children. For other children who may not be as talkative tell them about your day, don’t ask questions and just be present with them. If a child feels your presence, they may open up on their own over time.
The Physical Space:
Make sure you have a place and time that is designated to do homework. Children need to be grounded during table activities, including homework. If your child’s feet don’t touch the floor yet, use a stepstool or a box under their feet. Some kids can benefit from a Metronome. Another idea is limiting the amount of paperwork on the table. Only bring out one assignment at a time to decrease the possibility of your child becoming overwhelmed or disorganized.
Do you have younger siblings that aren’t school aged?
Homework time can be a challenge when you have smaller children who are playing while the older child has to sit at the table and do homework.
Give your younger children homework as well!
Set them up at the table and have them cut strips of paper, or give them a coloring page to color in! Typically, the younger children will enjoy feeling like a big, school-aged kid, and the older child won’t feel left out of play time. And your younger child will be learning school skills in advance!
What about when things start to fall apart?
A math problem is too daunting, a pencil point breaks, and your child is about to fall apart! What should a parent do!?
Try to narrate your child’s feelings. It will sound like this:
Child: “I hate homework!”, “I’m not doing it!” or “I’m going to do science first because it’s better than math.”
Parent: “I can see that you are you’re frustrated that math is hard. Let me see if I can help you with that and then in five minutes, we can move on to playing legos together.”
Additionally, try using neutral and positive statements to increase connection and improve performance.
“I see you chose a pink crayon,” is a neutral statement. “It is so nice how you put that crayon back in the container,” is a positive statement.
The neutral statements may seem strange at first, however, these statements are simply pointing out what is going on around your child to increase self-awareness and outer focus. They are also important because they help with that connection and communication you are striving for with your child. Your child will now feel seen and connected to you and to what is going on around them.
It is always helpful to make homework fun when you can! Another way to do so is by letting a child call his/her other parent, or grandparent and read them their spelling words over the phone.
For ideas on how to incorporate movement into homework time check out this blog link: Preventing Outbursts and Meltdowns when Cooped Up Indoors.
Using these simple tips from Raquel to increase connection with your child, will decrease both the time and energy expended on homework!
This post was written by Krista Caines, OTAS, a fieldwork student, currently studying at Jefferson University to become an occupational therapy assistant. She spent eight weeks shadowing at The Thrive Group.