Transitioning from a summer of sleeping in, playing all day and staying up late, to a strict school regime with homework and tests is tough for anyone. Factor in things like ADHD, multiple extracurricular activities and a new teacher (and, sometimes, a new school!), and you’ve got the recipe for homework struggles.
So what’s a parent to do? Before you get resigned to another year of tutoring, stimulant medications for ADHD, or late-night homework marathons, consider these 20 tips to help your student succeed.
1. Make homework time technology-free. Unless they need to type a paper or do research on the internet, require that all phones, tablets and computer be off.
2. Designate a regular homework time. Some kids need to come home from school and unwind. Others do best if they complete homework right after school. Either way, give them a healthy snack to sustain their energy.
3. Celebrate their achievements. Put their best work on display or let them overhear you “boasting” about their efforts or accomplishments to others.
4. Get them brain training. Unlike tutoring, personal brain training strengthens the cognitive skills that make up the foundation of ALL learning. These include brain skills like memory, auditory processing, attention, processing speed, logic & reasoning, and visual processing.
5. Set up a specific study area. A comfortable area stocked with school essentials can help keep your student focused on their work.
6. Talk to the teachers. Make sure you understand what the teacher is looking for and discuss how you can work as a team to help your student succeed.
7. Create a calendar. Keep track of upcoming tests, writing assignments and projects and check in with your student to make sure they’re preparing early.
Feed them brain food. Sugars, food dyes and highly processed foods can wreak havoc on kids’ brains. Opt for foods that help keep the brain at peak function: blueberries, salmon, sardines, eggs, nuts and leafy green vegetables.
Reevaluate medications. Allergy medications can put your student in a fog. Stimulant medications for ADHD can have side effects and don’t do anything to help cure the attention weaknesses. Consider allergen immunotherapy and one-on-one cognitive skills training, a natural alternative that addresses the root cause of learning struggles.
10. Ensure they get plenty of quality sleep. Sleep helps recharge and “reboot” your brain. Too few winks and your memory, attention and processing speed all suffer.
11. Learn to recognize signs of frustration. They are lots of reasons that kids procrastinate or take forever to do simple homework. Find out if the work is boring, too hard or too confusing and address those concerns immediately.
12. Acknowledge progress. Point out when they’re moving through multiplication problems faster or reading with fewer mistakes.
13. Have them do the hardest work first. Do the most difficult work when their brains are primed. Once it’s behind them they’ll feel relieved to breeze through the easier homework.
14. Make learning fun. Incorporate math, history, English and science into everyday tasks and weekend excursions. Let them work with fractions in recipes, visit a museum on the weekend or speak another language at home.
15. Give them the tools to stay organized. Help your child or teen choose a color system for binders and/or find apps that help students stay organized by sending email alerts.
16. Make them accountable to bring books home. Every kid is going to forget something at school once in a while. But regular occurrences may signal a deeper problem. Create an end-of-day checklist for them to review at school if the problem is memory. If it’s intentional, you’ll need to address the reasons behind it.
17. Do weekend homework on Friday. By doing their weekend homework Friday afternoon or evening, the material is still fresh from what they were taught in school. Waiting until Sunday night can cause added frustration when their memory has faded a bit.
18. Practice what you preach. “You’re going to rot your brain with all that TV!” Do you think that only applies to your offspring? Set a good example by spending your free time reading, playing an instrument, gardening, exercising —you name it!
19. Don’t let their brains go on vacation. The Summer Slide is a real thing, as is the loss of knowledge that occurs over Christmas and Spring Break. Keep your student learning by encouraging reading, writing and brain games over long breaks.
20. Use games and apps that build brain skills. Not all video and board games are created equal. Look for games that build skills like memory, processing speed, attention and logic and reasoning.
For a free downloadable “Games for Skills” chart, visit: www.UnlockTheEinsteinInside.com
For a list of 12 free brain-building apps for kids, visit: http://media.learningrx.com/12-free-brain-building-apps-for-kids/
To learn more about one-on-one cognitive skills training, visit: www.LearningRx.com