How many households in America each night hear the refrain, “Go up to your room and start your homework?”

Recognizing that each household is set up differently, it is hard to make generalizations about how and where a child should be doing his or her homework.  For the children of concern, the ones that are easily “lost in the woods ,“  these children have great difficulty functioning independently even in a comfortable and functional work-space that has been set up in their room.

As stated in a previous post, an ongoing concern of yours is to find the “just right” level of parental involvement (  Recognizing that these children need greater degrees of structuring, cuing and prompting, having a child go off to his room to complete homework may largely be a mistake.

When left to their own devices, think of these kids as free-floating molecules with little to anchor them or bring them back to the task.  Without some level of structure, there is little to help them get started or to keep them on track.

An alternative that provides some anchoring is getting the child in the habit of sitting within relatively close range of a parent, preferably at a dining room table, apart from any action going on in the house.

Ideally, a parent can be sitting close by doing quiet work of their own (e.g., reading, bill paying, etc.)  Just the presence of an adult quietly sitting close by helps to settle things down for the “lost in the woods” type of a child.

It would also be helpful to establish a household “quiet time” where the tone of the house becomes relatively lower than the norm. This may mean shutting off the television and having other children quietly (if they don’t have schoolwork) in a different portion of the house.    (You may need to spend time training the other kids in the house to practice the quiet time so they know what is expected.)

Many families with whom I have worked have found an hour and a half of “quiet time” to be ideal.  Mind you, quiet time does not mean that house has to be “library quiet.”  It’s just that the tone and energy of the house is lower than usual.

Don’t worry if the deckhands (i.e.,  the kids) start whining and protesting.  Stay firm with your establishment of a quiet time and they will soon get used to it.

Establishing this routine as early as possible as the way that homework is done will pay off dividends later.  Many teenagers that I work with are particularly “free-floating” in their room.   They have a very  hard time getting started and seeing tasks through to their conclusion.

It’s never too late to change the routines, but the earlier you create the tone and the routine for homework the better.

Tags:  Parent Involvement, Struggling Learners, Organizational weaknesses, Executive Function Deficits.


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