By Saskia Nilsen, M.A. Learning Specialist and RITES advocate
Addressing difficulties with homework can be the difference between students just getting by and their ability to reach their academic potential.
Communicate with your child’s teacher(s): Often executive functioning deficits will show up at home during homework time, rather than in the classroom. Making sure to communicate what you see at home will allow you to team with your child’s teacher(s) to problem-solve. It can’t hurt to ask for them to highlight study skills in the classroom, provide directions in writing, help a student chunk long-term assignments, help prioritize homework, or provide graphic organizers and sentence starters for writing tasks, if you feel this is what your child needs to be successful with homework.
Keep Track of Time to Stay on Track: Developing an internal clock takes lots of practice for some brains. Students should estimate how long each homework assignment will take and then compare it to the actual time. Doing this over the first two months of school will help them to better gauge how much time they need to devote to homework in order to be successful. This also leads to less procrastination, as they become aware how long quality work truly takes. Visual clocks or timers with color sections on the clock face for younger students can help them see how long they have to complete a task and better learn how to pace themselves. Click here for a free Homework Time Management sheet.
Chunk it: With ever-increasing demands on our attention, kids with executive functioning challenges need to break tasks down in order to maintain focus from one step to the next. Making to-do lists and prioritizing tasks are one way to take a step-by-step approach to homework. It can also be extremely helpful to use visual schedules and review them several times a day. Weekly and monthly calendars with color-coded events also help students start to compartmentalize their busy lives and the various demands placed on them. Break long homework assignments into chunks and assign time frames for completing each chunk. This enables students to understand what is required to meet due dates and to avoid doing the whole project the night before it is due. Being able to compare the quality of work that is produced without rushing can help convert procrastinators to a new approach.
By familiarizing yourself with the various executive function skills and how they apply to school, you will be better able to support your child in a positive way to practice these skills.
The RITES Study Smarter Not Harder classes help middle school and high school students with executive function challenges learn and practice all of these steps under expert guidance. Spots fill quickly – sign up today!
Missed any of our Executive Functioning blog series? Click below to catch up, and look for Part 4: Handling the Homefront with Executive Challenges, coming in March.