Monthly Archives: August 2014



adjust at every stage2

Heading back to school can bring a number of challenges for our kids.  Navigating new environments, teachers, therapists and peers can each be a bit scary but full of opportunity.

One very common request we get is about supporting kids with their homework.  How do you get your child to do his or her homework? There are many strategies to help keep your child on task; all of them tried and true. Here are some to consider:

Make it Easier by Sticking to a Schedule

Set a schedule and stick to it. Like any other priority, if homework always occurs at the same time, and the routine becomes engrained, your child will eventually accept the routine. This is true for teeth brushing, baths, and all of the chores children prefer to avoid. Initially it is hard to hold the line on the schedule, but it sure pays off later.

Reinforce the Message that Homework is Important

Set the stage and set the tone. Show them that homework time is very serious. Give them an important place to sit. Ask siblings to be quiet or leave the area because it is homework time. Ask them frequently how they are doing. Intersperse praise throughout homework tasks. Show them that you care that they are being successful with their homework efforts. Help them feel successful and competent.

Motivate with Kindness

Be firm but encouraging. Everyone tends to push back when they are nagged. It is hard to avoid nagging when you are frustrated, so observe your own behavior. You need to set the limits for what the homework routine looks like, but you also can be encouraging and motivating. Remind your child what you believe their strengths are, and why you are proud of what they are learning.

Positive Reinforcement is Powerful

Use rewards. It is OK to reward your child for completing their homework. They are doing something difficult every day. Consider giving a reward for being successful at participating in homework time (not getting everything correct). Eventually, as homework time becomes easier you can shift rewards to more academic goals. It does not have to be an ice cream sundae. Find out what they might like to do with you after they are done. This can be an opportunity to consider setting aside quality time that you will enjoy.

Every Opportunity for Choice Increases Compliance

Giving choices has been proven to increase motivation. What choices can they have during homework time? It is important for you to keep the time and the expectations the same. But, can they choose where to sit? Can they choose what materials to write with or write on? Can they choose what task to begin with? Also, consider letting them choose their reward as well. Give them at least three options. Empowering them in this way can be very powerful. The more control they have over the task the more motivated they will be.

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The above quote is from our most recent guest on Autism Spectrum Radio, Jennifer O’Toole, founder of Asperkids.  Jennifer made a return to the show last week and we can’t stop smiling about it.

Jennifer’s outlook is smart, creative and funny!  She says that she takes being, raising, teaching and loving folks on the autism spectrum very seriously. She does not take herself too seriously.  We always enjoy her great insights and perspective on mothering children on the spectrum and navigating life as an “Aspie”.

“Autism isn’t usually thought of as funny.  And you know what? It isn’t always funny. Sometimes it can be crazy-making. Isolating. Scary.  But that’s really true of any life…if you’re not hanging out with the right kind of friends.”

We had a great discussion about the fact that regardless of your diagnosis, we all make choices everyday.  We want to prepare our kids to make the best possible choices they can.

You have to stay alert in a conversation with Jennifer because she is a passionate person with a lot to say!  She shared several great stories, including how she uses ordinary stuff around the house to do extraordinarily cool, engaging and fun activities that present abstract concepts like: “Have To Dos” vs “Want To Dos”.

Click here to learn how Jennifer used simple marbles to teach her daughter about how the Parthenon was built and also the effects of being too rigid in new environments.

One more bit of wisdom from the Asperkids website-  “Life is short: use more glitter.”

Jennifer O’Toole is the founder of Asperkids, an award-winning author, the mother of three kids on the spectrum and a self described “Aspie”.  Find out more at

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