Help­ing Kids WITH HOME­WORK

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Deb Hop­per De­sign Olek­san­dra Zuieva

Most chil­dren bring vary­ing de­grees of home­work home as early as Kinder­garten through to the end of high school. En­cour­ag­ing and teach­ing chil­dren how to set­tle and ground them­selves af­ter a full day of learn­ing, can be try­ing and emo­tional for both par­ents and your child. In GHGTM Septem­ber is­sue, we talked about the im­por­tance of un­der­stand­ing the best times of the day when your child has higher en­ergy lev­els and so choose the best times to en­cour­age home­work. This could be straight af­ter school, af­ter some ex­er­cise or down time, later at night or even early in the morn­ing.

This month, we look at five top tips for help­ing a child set­tle into home­work. Some of the ways to help them may in­clude:

1. Send­ing them out­side to play for 20 min­utes.

Giv­ing them time for a run around, a swing in the back yard, climb­ing a tree or vis­it­ing a park on the way home from school re­ally fills their ner­vous sys­tem, which can help them get ready for home­work. If your child at­tends af­ter school care, talk to the car­ers and ask how much move­ment and ac­tive play time your child par­tic­i­pates in. If they are choos­ing more seden­tary ac­tiv­i­ties, li­aise with the staff for ways for them to en­cour­age move­ment and ac­tive play while in their care. This will make home­work time eas­ier for you.

2. Have some warm up games avail­able for your child.

Have some play­dough, plas­ticine or ther­apy putty avail­able for them to play with while you are putting din­ner on. This won’t feel like home­work for your child, it will help to strengthen their hands ready for writ­ing and it can be quite ther­a­peu­tic and calm­ing.

3. Seek your child’s opin­ion about the environment.

Talk to your child about what kind of environment they find eas­ier to con­cen­trate in. For some it will be si­lence, for oth­ers it will be with back­ground mu­sic. Take in­ter­est in help­ing your child to un­der­stand that ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent and sug­gest tri­alling dif­fer­ent set ups while they find out what works for them.

4. Set up a com­fort­able phys­i­cal environment with your child.

Make sure there is good light­ing and that the chair pro­vides good pos­ture with feet touch­ing the floor. It may be help­ful to have a foot rest or smaller ta­ble and chair for younger chil­dren. Also cre­ate a com­fort­able and or­gan­ised place for them to do their home­work. This might be in their bed­room, at the break­fast bar, or at a small ta­ble in the liv­ing room close to the fam­ily’s ac­tiv­i­ties. The best space will be dif­fer­ent for chil­dren of dif­fer­ent ages. Younger chil­dren love to be near their par­ents, whereas older chil­dren like to have their own space and need more space for set­ting up books and study ma­te­ri­als. If you need to buy a chair or desk lamp, in­volve your child in go­ing to the store to help choose one. Pro­vide help­ful or­gan­is­ing tools such as pen hold­ers in trays and help teach them how to use it. You have many more years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in be­ing or­gan­ised. Take a lit­tle time and share your ideas with your child.

5. En­cour­age your child to have a drink of wa­ter be­fore start­ing home­work.

Hav­ing reg­u­lar sips of wa­ter keep them hy­drated for im­proved con­cen­tra­tion but the sip­ping ac­tion also helps the ner­vous sys­tem to keep calm and the brain alert. Also en­cour­age them to have their drink bot­tle on the desk while do­ing home­work

By us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of set­ting goals and look­ing af­ter a child’s sensory needs, you will sup­port them to be able to start, con­cen­trate and com­plete home­work time with much less fuss, mak­ing the evening more fun!

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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