Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Deb Hop­per

Cre­ate a happy learn­ing space for kids

Help­ing chil­dren of all ages set­tle down and fo­cus on home­work af­ter school or on week­ends can seem like an im­pos­si­ble task. On week days, chil­dren have been con­cen­trat­ing, tak­ing in in­for­ma­tion for most of the school day and set­tling back into school work is of­ten the last thing they are want­ing to do. Week­ends are just for fun.


Many teach­ers th­ese days are pro­vid­ing cre­ative projects such as mak­ing up maths games, mak­ing re­cy­cled craft or ask­ing chil­dren to draw a map of their lo­cal area, which can be much more fun than tra­di­tional home­work. How­ever, whether home work is read­ing, spell­ing, maths and tra­di­tional book­work or more cre­ative projects, of­ten the home­work bat­tle can feel like a black cloud loom­ing.

HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS THAT MAY AS­SIST YOUR CHILD WHEN DO­ING HOME­WORK. 1. Chil­dren can ex­pe­ri­ence stress when think­ing about start­ing home­work.

Just as adults, if the per­ceived chal­lenges out­weigh the child’s ca­pac­ity or en­ergy, they can ex­pe­ri­ence stress and be­come over­whelmed. A fun way to get started is to cre­ate a grid of say nine spa­ces, where the home­work for the week (or day for older chil­dren) is di­vided into nine dif­fer­ent smaller tasks, which are writ­ten onto the grid. The sim­ple act of see­ing what home­work needs to be com­pleted, can help to re­duce some of the stress and not be over­whelmed. It helps the child to pick out one or two ac­tiv­i­ties to start with e.g. writ­ing down spell­ing words. Once this is com­pleted, it is crossed out on the grid, so they can see progress, like play­ing tic-tac-toe. Of­ten af­ter they fin­ish a cou­ple of easy tasks, the chal­lenge of the game kicks in and they want to keep go­ing.

2. Sup­port the sen­sory needs of your child.

It is also im­por­tant to sup­port the sen­sory needs of a child, in prepa­ra­tion for do­ing home­work. Af­ter sit­ting in class for most of the day, it is re­ally im­por­tant to en­cour­age them to move and ‘fill up’ their ner­vous sys­tem be­fore start­ing home­work. This will help re­duce any feel­ings of be­ing over­whelmed, help them feel grounded, re­freshed and help them to be able to fo­cus and com­plete their home­work quicker.

3. When does your child have high en­ergy?

In ad­di­tion, con­sider the times of the day when your child has high en­ergy. Are they a night owl or a morn­ing per­son? If you child is ex­tremely tired in the af­ter­noon/even­ing, maybe do­ing read­ing prac­tice in bed, first thing in the morn­ing, or set­ting the alarm for an older child for 5.30am, may help them com­plete as­sign­ments in their strength zones.

4. When is the best time for ‘brain work’?

Just as adults are aware of times that are best for ‘brain work’, we can ob­serve our chil­dren, sug­gest and gen­tly guide them to trial dif­fer­ent strate­gies. We have built our own learn­ing strate­gies over many years. Rather than forc­ing the is­sue of home­work with our chil­dren, let’s sup­port them in look­ing for their peak per­for­mance times and sug­gest ac­tiv­i­ties and rou­tines that sup­port their learn­ing and home­work prac­tice time. In the next is­sue of GHGTM, I will dis­cuss the top six ways to help a child set­tle into do­ing their home­work with less tears.

Deb Hop­per is an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist, author and work­shop pre­sen­ter. She is pas­sion­ate about em­pow­er­ing par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors to un­der­stand the un­der­ly­ing rea­sons of why chil­dren strug­gle with be­hav­iour, self­es­teem and sen­sory pro­cess­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. Deb is the co-author of the CD Sen­sory Songs

for Tots, and author of Re­duc­ing Melt­downs and Im­prov­ing Con­cen­tra­tion: The Just Right Kids Tech­nique Model. Deb can be

con­tacted via her web­site.

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