With a new school year beginning, getting the kids back into a homework routine may be challenging. Here are some tips to make this important task a bit easier:
• Find an area in the house and designate it as the "Go to School Spot" Everything that needs to return to school should go there: books, bags, running shoes, and completed homework.
• After Grade 2, children should use a a daybook to keep track of assignments. Teach your child to use a symbol which can be checked off when assignments are complete.
• Each item should go into their bag as soon as it's completed. This helps your child feel a sense of accomplishment and ensures homework will return to school. It also gives them a physical separation between homework tasks.
• Create a special study spot. The designated spot doesn't have to be a desk. It could be a sofa, the kitchen table, or their bed. The two keys are: all needed items are at arm's reach and it's not too close to any temptations. (i.e. the television, computer games, etc.)
• Keep the homework area well-equipped: tape, stapler, staple remover, hole puncher, pens, pencils, markers, rulers, extra paper, plain and lined, and adequate lighting for night work, if your child will work after dinner.
• If your child has trouble with attention span and constantly asks for breaks, say "Yes, you can go as soon as you finishâ€¦," instead of saying "No, you can't go untilâ€¦is finished." It's hard to dispute a 'yes'. Be firm, gentle, and repetitive if necessary.
• If your child is a hyperactive learner, use music to help him complete his homework. The key is that the music be orderly and recognizable - something he already knows, but not the radio. Studies have shown that the element of surprise leads to distraction, but expected music in certain orders helps a hyperactive mind concentrate.
• Time your child's attention span and use positive reinforcement to work towards expanding the span.
• Dedicate a specific time each day to do homework. For stress reduction and buffer time, it's better to start earlier rather than later.
• Work on one assignment at a time.
• When doing homework, think of ways to easily remember things. Use mental imagery, acronyms, key words, and funny sentences to help them memorize key concepts.
Paola Breda runs the Gap Academy, a Toronto school for kids with learning disabilities.