5 Ways to Make Homework Less Stressful

5 Ways to Make Homework Less Stressful

Is homework a dreaded deed each night at your home for both you and your child? Do you feel like you are constantly nagging at your child to “sit down and get to work”?  If so, you are not alone and no, your child isn’t bad or abnormal.  Your child may be telling you (possibly through the use of bad behaviors), that he really needs to engage in some active play instead of more seated work.

Your child has been asked to sit ALL day long at school (7-8 hours) with little opportunities for movement breaks and then comes home and has to sit even longer and do homework.  No wonder your child may be resisting it or having difficulty focusing.

Our bodies are not designed to be sedentary that long and we begin to loose focus, attention, and concentration after sitting for long periods.  So, your child’s begrudging behaviors about doing homework might possibly be an outward expression of how their internal system feels.

The problem is, homework won’t be going away anytime soon, so how can you incorporate your child’s innate need to move with the demands of school? Try these simple homework hacks!

Success Tip #1- Don’t do homework right after school!

It’s tempting to make your kids get their homework done right after school to ensure its completed, but you will find that your child will be re-energized, more focused, and attentive if you give them a break between school and homework.

The key component to these breaks though is that it needs to be an ACTIVE break such as playing outdoors, bike riding, running, simple exercises, sports, etc…   Your child’s body has been sitting all day long, so in order to help it re-charge and re-energize, it needs to move! Allow for at least 30-60 minutes of active play before attempting to start homework.

Success Tip #2- Set scheduled work and break times!

Unfortunately, many kids are spending way too much time doing homework.  In fact, some kids as young as 6 or 7 are spending 2-4 hours on homework each night.   If this sounds overwhelming to you as the parent, just image how it must feel for your young child.  Rather than trying to tackle the homework in one sitting, break it up.

Discuss a work/break schedule with your child ahead of time so the task doesn’t seem quite as daunting.  Set the schedule to correspond with your child’s age and developmental level (do shorter work times for younger children, longer for older kids).

For example, set a timer and work with your child on the homework for 15 minutes, then do a 5 minute fun movement break with them (i.e. musical chairs, Simon Says, silly “minute to win it” games, mobile games for 5 minutes (like DLS 19) etc..).  Continue with the work/ break schedule until the homework is completed.  Even with the extra time built in for the breaks, you will find that your child is getting finished with homework quicker because they aren’t getting as frustrated.

Success Tip #3-Decrease visual distractions

Your child may take one look at the 30 questions on the page and immediately feel overwhelmed and ready to give up before even starting.  So, decrease the visual “busy-ness” of the paper by only showing a couple questions at a time.  Here’s a few suggestions on how to do that:

  • Take a thick piece of paper to cover up the majority of the homework sheet, allowing only 1-2 questions to be visible at a time
  • When reading, cut a small window out of a notecard and use that to allow for your child to see one word or problem at a time
  • If your teacher is agreeable, cut the homework paper up into smaller sections and give them to your child one at a time, then after all sections are finished, staple answer slips together
Success Tip #4- Add movement into learning

Plenty of research has shown that when you add movement into learning, the information is retained longer than  simply hearing or seeing the information.  Plus, it will be more fun for your child and will help to break up the monotony of sitting.  Here’s a few simple ways to add movement into learning:

  • Jump and Learn Spelling Words
  • Jumping Jack Spelling Words (they do a jumping jack for each letter in a spelling word)
  • Math hops- (draw or tape lines of the floor and have your child hop forward or backward for addition/subtraction math problems
  • Write in different positions-
    • Tape your child’s paper to a wall and have them stand to write
    • Write while sitting on top of a therapy ball
    • Write while laying on their belly, propped up on their arms

Success Tip #5- Use of sensory tools and seating options

If your child really struggles sitting still for periods of time, try incorporating sensory strategies to promote increased attention and focus.  Here are a few that really work well!

  • Use a compression vest or weighted vest- These help to re-assure your child of where its body is in space and elicits a calming response.   If your child isn’t calm, he will have a much harder time being able to focus on school work.
  • Use a weighted blanket or lap pad- Similar to the weighted vests, these weighted blankets reinforce body awareness and are comforting and calming for kids which in turn promotes relaxation and the ability to focus.
  • Use a wiggle seat- Wiggle seats are excellent outlets for kids to use to allow them to have the flexibility to move while still remaining contained in their seats.
  • Use a therapy ball chair- Therapy ball chairs also help with focus and attention because they also allow for movement but still contain your child in a seat.

Homework doesn’t have to be painful every night! These tips will help both you and your child tackle homework more quickly and confidently, and who knows, you both may have a little fun too!

Original post on kidsplaysmarter.com

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