Conquering Homework: Tips from Chicago Occupational Therapy

For children of all ages, homework time can be a struggle. After a full day of school, homework is often one of the last things on a child’s mind. But homework is critical, not only for gaining specific content knowledge, but also for gaining skills related to responsibility, time management, and organization.

Below are some tips from occupational therapists that may help make homework time easier for the whole family!

Create a designated workspace

When a child has a specific workspace that is dedicated to homework, it becomes easier to focus and switch into “homework mode,” helping the child be more productive. These workspaces should have a desk/table and chair and be free from clutter and other distractions, such as a TV or toys. Be sure their space is in a quiet environment to help decrease auditory distractions. 

Start with the most difficult tasks first

When completing homework, be sure to have your child work on the most difficult task or assignment first. A child will have more attention, be more alert, and more willing to get the hard items out of the way when they first start homework.  

Build homework in to your daily routine

Make homework a part of your family’s routine! Set a designated time after school for homework. This way your child knows when it is expected of them to do their work!

Efficient ergonomics

Both children and adults have trouble working efficiently when they are uncomfortable and not positioned correctly. This comfort begins with the right chair and posture. The child should sit up with their back supported and both feet planted on the floor or a stool. Be sure to follow the 90-90-90 rule – There should be a 90 degree angle at your child’s hips, knees, and ankles. You can imagine an uppercase “L” for what a 90 degree angle should look like. 

Take breaks

Even with an optimal workspace, short movement breaks are important to promote better attention and regulation. Movement breaks can include jumping jacks, yoga poses, or a dance party! It is important that these breaks involve physical movement (as opposed to watching TV, for instance) in order to break up the sedentary nature of most homework assignments. 

Create a schedule/list

Whether it be a written list or visual schedule of what they are expected to accomplish during homework time, have something your child can check off tasks as they complete them. Being able to visually see their progress can help motivate them as they see an end in sight! 

Break it down to simple tasks

Breaking long homework assignment down into simple steps for your child will make the assignment seem less overwhelming to them. For example, if your child has to write a 5-paragraph essay, have them write 1 at a time with a break in between. 

Use a timer

Set a visual timer for the amount of time your child needs to work before getting a break or being done. This gives them a visual of how long they need to work for. If your child has a hard time sitting still or attending, start with shorter increments of time and work up to adding more time as their attention improves. 

Conquering homework doesn’t need to be a battle! Setting up a comfortable and distraction-free workspace while also accounting for your child’s individual needs can help take the stress out of homework time and help build good, lifelong habits. 

Is homework a struggle at home? Contact Chicago Occupational Therapy or call (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services and how we can help your child flourish and grow.