Tag Archives: Back to School

Tips for Making Homework Easier

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Homework

By: Kelly Namanja
The school year is now in full swing. The once-new backpacks may already be showing signs of distress from their daily haul …and perhaps your kids are too. Homework is a task that few (if any!) kids enjoy, and children with autism can especially have trouble with such assignments. Some children, for example, can appear to understand what they’re doing while in the classroom but might not grasp what’s expected from home assignments. And many students on the spectrum don’t ask their teachers for help. Fortunately there are several strategies to help your child stay focused.

NEGOTIATE APPROPRIATE ASSIGNMENTS
Regular communication with teachers is important when it comes to homework: it helps clarify the level and amount the child can handle. Keep in touch so teachers can create individually appropriate assignments.  Also, make sure you know which assignments are due when and that your child is turning in their completed assignments.  Children with autism may have difficulty organizing and tracking homework assignments and due dates.

KEEP IT CONSISTENT
If homework always occurs at the same time and becomes routine, your child will eventually accept it. Initially it may be hard to hold the line, but persistence pays off. This works for almost all chores children prefer to avoid, from taking baths to brushing teeth.  You may also want to use a visual schedule and even a timer so that your child knows what to expect when.

SET YOUR CHILD UP FOR SUCCESS
Set a tone that homework time is important and a priority. Give your child an important place to sit, and ask siblings to stay quiet or have them work on their homework too! Ask how it’s going, and be sure to offer praise to help build your child’s confidence. Show that you care and want them to be successful.

MOTIVATE AND ENCOURAGE
Be firm but encouraging, being careful not to nag too much. This can be difficult when you’re frustrated so be conscious of your tone. Set solid standards for what the homework routine looks like, but be encouraging and motivating. Remind your child that you are proud of their efforts and that they are learning. Consider giving a reward for good effort (or even just sitting and attending initially) even if not everything is correct. As improvement is made over time, you can shift rewards to more academic goals. Rewards don’t have to be candy or toys, just ask the child what they might like to do with you once homework is done—it’s an opportunity for positive quality time you can both enjoy.  If your child has difficulty waiting until the end of homework to receive the reward, give them tokens (stickers, stars, etc.) throughout the homework routine, and when they reach a certain number of tokens, give them the reward.

OFFER CHOICES
Giving choices has been proven to increase motivation. You want homework time to become routine, but you can still offer choices such as where to sit, what writing materials to use, which task to start with and definitely the type of reward given for successful completion. Empower them by offering at least three options; they’ll like the (limited) control!

PICK YOUR BATTLES
Your child’s homework does not have to be perfect.  Maybe they misspelled a word.  Will the teacher be able to figure it out? Then let it slide.  Perhaps their handwriting is a little sloppy.  If it’s still legible, don’t spend a lot of time making them re-write something they already did.  The less you correct your child (and make them re-do their work), the less frustrating homework will be for both of you! Try to praise twice as much as you critique!

BREAK UP DIFFICULT TASKS
Seeing a full worksheet of 30+ math problems can be overwhelming for any child! Try covering the bottom of the page with a blank sheet of paper and working on one row at a time.  You can even switch to other assignments between rows if necessary. Ask your child to help you come up with a pattern (e.g., 5 math problems, 2 spelling words, 5 math problems, 2 spelling words, etc.).  If there’s a longer assignment due at the end of the week, work on a little bit each day to make it less overwhelming.

Kelly Namanja, MA, BCBA is AST’s Clinical Director for Chicagoland. Learn more about our team and ABA services in Chicago, as well as autism resources in Illinois here.

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Reducing Back to School Anxiety

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Back to School Title Written by a Colorful Pencils or Crayons

Getting ready for the new school year can be a hectic and exciting time. For children with autism (and their parents), all this change can feel overwhelming.

Here are some suggestions for how to help ease your child’s back-to-school anxieties:

Get a sneak peak
Scope out the school and classroom in advance. If your child is going into a new classroom, visit it at least once before the first day of school. If transition has been a struggle in the past, consider taking as much time as your child needs to explore the classroom. Make it as much fun as possible, playing in each of the new areas.

Check out seat assignments
For older children, ask the teacher if a seat assignment has been made. Do some enjoyable activities in that seat. If familiar classmates will be in the room, show where they will be sitting, too.

Rehearse new activities
Find out from the teacher what new activities are planned. Then, prepare your child by performing, practicing, and talking about them. This rehearsal will reduce anxiety when the new activities come up in the first week of school.

Anticipate sensory overload
The noise and chaos of a typical classroom can sometimes be a bit much to handle. Establish a plan for what to do in this situation – perhaps there is a quiet room where your child can “take a break” for a short time.

Volunteer in the classroom
Most teachers welcome assistance from parents. Your presence may be a source of comfort to your child during those challenging first weeks.

Going to school can pose many challenges for children with autism, as well as countless opportunities for building crucial social, language, and academic skills. Be positive and encouraging, and your child will be off to a great year!

For more information about education rights, visit the Know Your Rights section of our Autism Journey Map.

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BACK TO SCHOOL: HOMEWORK TIPS

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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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