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How to Help Your Child Who Feels Overworked in School

Does your child feel overworked in school? School-related stress is nothing new, but it is now happening to even younger students. With the increased importance of testing on students, teachers, and schools- children are facing more stressBlog-Overworked in School-Main-Landscape in school than parents may have experienced when they were younger.

Here are some helpful tips for how to help your child if they are overworked in school:

Don’t over-schedule kids

Although it is important to have children in activities outside of school like sports or clubs, don’t schedule so much that they are not able to do their homework. If you only have an hour scheduled for homework because they have to run to their art class, then swimming class and they only have time for a quick dinner and then bed, a child may feel rushed or pressured to get everything done. In addition, ask your child what works for them and let them have some control over their schedule. Some kids like to get to work as soon as they get home, while others need a break after school.

Praise effort, not grades

Everyone wants their child to succeed and most importantly everyone wants their child to feel successful and proud of themselves. In some children, that may mean that they bring home straight A’s every quarter or semester, but in some children that may look different. Emphasizing that a child needs a certain grade can lead to them feeling stressed and anxious. The truth is that some students may not be an A student. Praise effort and improvements, rather than A’s. Also, don’t ignore those classes like art or music.

If a child is really struggling in math, but excels in the fine arts, praise them for that specific talent rather than ignoring those “easy” classes. In addition to praising effort, it is important to try and limit consequences for lower grades. If a child studied and put forth effort, but came home with a lower grade than what was expected, don’t punish them- talk about it and how they could have studied or completed the work differently.

What not to say: “7th grade is the most important” “Junior year is the most important” “you need this grade in order to do this…”

When adults make these statements to children, they often hope it will motivate them to study longer or focus more, but it can often do the opposite. If a child hears these statements regularly, it can cause feelings of anxiety. If a child is anxious, they are less likely to be able to study and focus efficiently. It may be more helpful to show specific examples of how certain topics can be used in real life situations. This shows that the information they learn is important, but it alleviates the pressure that if they don’t master the topic, they won’t be successful.

Teach kids effective study habits, and how to balance it.

Sometimes it is not how much you study, but how you do it. Help kids learn good study habits like taking breaks, not cramming for tests, healthy sleep habits, and being organized. Ask your children what works for them. Some people need absolute silence, while some enjoy music in the background. Don’t force a habit on a child that may not work for them. Teaching children these skills will not only help them in school, but as a future employee as well.

Finding a work-life balance is something that a lot of parents and adults struggle with. It is important to model a healthy balance of work and fun to your children, so they can learn how to achieve that balance.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

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stop procrastinating

Help Your Child STOP Procrastinating

We are all guilty of that last minute Hail Mary to finalize a report or satisfy a deadline. Even during the times when you are confident you will be ahead of the curve, life happens and best laid plans fail. Teach, and practice, these helpful strategies to avoid procrastination.

Tips to Help Your Child Stop Procrastinating:

  1. Sit down with your child and organize all the work that needs to be completed.Help Your Child Stop Procrastinating Arrange these tasks in an A, B, C manner where A’s are of the utmost priority that need to be achieved right away and B’s and C’s are not as pressing. Once the A’s are completed, then the child can move on to the lesser important items. You can do this on a daily or weekly basis.
  2. Break down tasks on to visual schedule. Add daily tasks to a visual calendar so that the child can see what he is responsible for doing. If an assignment lasts longer than one day to complete, like writing a paper or studying for test, break down this task across several days in smaller time increments. Upon completion of this task, the child can cross off the assignment to garner a sense of satisfaction and have an active status for remaining work.
  3. Check assignment notebook/online database for assignments. Model for your child this essential step prior to engagement in homework. When your child comes home from school, make a habit of sitting down during snack time to discuss the requirements for the day. Encourage collaboration for prioritizing tasks through review of syllabus, assignment notebook, and any information posted on line to get the most comprehensive picture of tasks. This may not just include homework but money for hot lunch, filling out consents for field trips, and keeping track of other important information. These items can all be housed on the big visual schedule.
  4. Open communication. Encourage open communication in a non-punitive forum. Let your child know that he can still receive tablet time, play dates, and movies throughout the week even if they have a lot of work to complete. Scheduling down time and fun can also help to debunk irrational, negative thoughts about having to complete work if the child can see that fun and leisure is being factored in too.

Click here to set-up a routine for homework happiness.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 Reasons Free-Time is a Good Thing

Free-time is a good thing. Parents spend a lot of time encouraging their children to participate in recreational activities during the school year. There is nothing wrong with having your child participate in different activities and helping them to figure out what they are passionate about; however, over-scheduling your child with too many activities can often lead to increased stress in children and their parents. It is important for parents to be cautious about how much they are scheduling their children and to encourage more free time.

Here are 5 reasons why it is important not to over-schedule your child:KidsFreeTimeFall

  1. Over-scheduling can create increased stress and anxiety for both parents and children. Over the last several years there has been an increase in anxiety related disorders due to the stressors involved with over-scheduling.
  2. It creates less time for children to complete their homework and can cause them to have less sleep at night due to staying up later to complete their homework.
  3. It decreases the amount of quality time a children can spend with their family.
  4. Over-scheduling can cause a child to have less time for free-time and with you. Quality time doing imaginative play with your child is important in order to encourage creativity and to help develop independence in children.
  5. It can also cause children to have difficulty maintaining with peers due to not having enough free time to spend with them and to build their relationships.


 Is over-scheduling or homework creating stress? Read here for 8 Tips to Ease Homework Time Stress.




set up a routine for homework success

Set-Up a Routine for Homework Happiness

 

 

 

Children with attentional problems or issues with executive functioning often have difficulties with homework completion. Several issues associated with executive functioning lead to concerns with the ability to complete daily work including the following:

  • Initiation on work
  • Organization concerns
  • Time management
  • Difficulty transitioning

When is the best time for my child to do homework?

Oftentimes children will want to have a break from school work when they come home. They want to play for a while before doing work. I would actually recommend that the child immediately start homework when he gets home. Research has indicated that children with attentional problems and poor executive functioning have difficulty transitioning between tasks. The child is still in the school mindset when he arrives home. Having the child take a break and then later transition back to homework likely will prove difficult. Instead, I would recommend that the child have a light snack and then immediately start the work.

How should I structure the homework space?

Organization, or lack thereof, is a hallmark feature of poor executive functioning. With that in mind, I would highly recommend that the homework environment in which the child is working be as organized and structured as possible. Have a specific desk or table where work is to be done. Keep the table as clean as possible with a minimal amount of distractions in the room. Oftentimes, having the child complete homework in his room proves to be a disaster. There are too many distractions that keep the child’s interest away from the homework assignment. It may prove best to select a quiet room away from family members with the fewest distractions possible.  Click here to watch a Pediatric TV Episode on setting up a homework station.

How do I work on time management with my child?

Parents often state that the child has no idea about time management or how long tasks should last. I often recommend that parents have the child provide an estimate of how long he perceives a task should last. Time the child and then provide the difference as to how long he thought the work would last and how long it actually lasted. Then the next day, have the child again provide an estimate as to how long the task will last. If the child is way off with the estimate, pull out the data from the night before and ask if he wants to revise his estimate. Keep this going until the child starts to develop an actual idea of how long tasks should last.

These are just a few tips to keep homework as structured as possible. Help the child start homework right away as it will help with initiation on tasks as well as ensuring a smooth transition between demands. Keep the room and desk as organized as possible to limit distractions and off-task behaviors. Provide some guidance with time management by helping identify how long tasks and assignments should last.

Read here for 8 more tips to ease homework time stress!







Child With Learning Disability

Helpful Homework Tips for Children With Learning Disabilities

If you are a parent of a child with a learning disability, you know how frustrating homework time can be. Evenings should not be spent tirelessly at the kitchen table. In fact, over involvement in your child’s homework can be counterproductive. If you sit down with your child every day at the kitchen table, who’s homework is it? “Many kids will let you do as much of their work as you’re willing to do.”

The responsibility lines can become blurred over time. Additionally, kids who are always provided a great deal of assistance, may become reliant on it and feel as though they cannot do it on their own, in turn, negatively affecting their academic confidence and self-esteem. Of course you love your child and you want to see them succeed… So what can you do?

Be specific about what kind of help you will provide during your designated homework time. Here are some helpful hints you can try out:

Help with organization:

  •  Checking assignment notebooks
  •  Going over directions and make sure they understand what is being asked of them
  •  Prioritizing tasks

Help Manage time and stay on Task:

Children with learning disabilities tend to underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks

  • Schedule Homework in shorter sessions
  • Allow mini breaks and snacks, if needed
  • Soft music or white noise
  • If you have a squirmy one on your hands, try having them sitting on an exercise ball, chewing gum or squeezing a soft ball while working

Review their work:

Children with a LD tend to prefer to not check their work

  • A child with a visual-perception problem may not be able to spot their errors or maybe it was just boring and they don’t want to see it again!

Know when to ask for help:

Sometimes as the parent you aren’t always the best one to be helping during homework time. Simply providing emotional support and guidance can prove extremely beneficial. Also, utilize your resources, talk with the teacher if your child is having trouble understanding the assignments. Considering a tutor may be an option, as well.

References:

Smith,Corinne (2010). Learning Disabilities: A to Z. New York, NY: Free Press






Who’s putting the “Work” in “Homework?”

Many parents can relate to the struggles that homework can create each and every night. Although, at times, it may seem more frustrating than anything else, homework provides an opportunity to practice and integrate what your child has been learning. It also lets the teacher see how your child is doing…so resist doing it for him! 

What is your role as the parent during homework time?

Your child has a better chance of being successful during homework time if he feels you are interested in what he is doing. It lets him know that what he is doing is important. You can show your support by doing the following:

  • Demonstrating organizational skills
  • Doing your own work with them (i.e. paying bills, reading, etc.) Read more

8 Tips to Ease Homework Time Stress

For many families of middle and high school students, evening time becomes a stress-filled time for everyone. This is due to the fact homework stressthat tired and over-scheduled kids fight to focus to complete their homework. Fortunately, this time can become much more relaxed and productive with a few tweaks to routines and tips to help students to manage their time and work better.

8 Tips to Ease Homework Time Stress:

  1. Start with goals: Prior to making any changes to a homework routine that is not working, sit down with your child to identify their goals around their homework time.  Do they need to create more time?  Focus more effectively?  Remove distractions?  Get started earlier?  A meaningful plan can then be created from these goals with all family members on board.
  2. Create a dedicated space:  All too often, kids complete their homework with a host of distractions nearby: T.V., Internet, phones or other family members doing other things other than work.  Homework is best completed in a quiet space that is free of all distractions.  If the Internet is needed for research, this should be done during a specific time set aside for this purpose. Phones and televisions should be off.
  3. Create a plan: Before tackling any homework assignment, kids should set up a schedule that includes what assignments need to be completed and an estimate of how long each assignment should take to complete. These assignments should then be ordered according to their due date and difficulty level.
  4. Break down big assignments: When creating the homework plan for the evening, it is important to also take into consideration of any long term assignments that have been given. Divide these assignments into several (3-10, depending on the assignment) parts to complete over the course of the time until the assignment is due. Then, the big project is easily absorbed into the week, instead of being a shock the day before it’s due.
  5. Take regular breaks: Kids are unable to focus for longer than 45-50 minutes at a stretch. Plan 10-minute breaks into each hour of homework. The best breaks include some physical movement and/or fresh air.
  6. Keep track of paper: Students should keep assignments and notes for each class in a separate folder or section of a notebook. After completing each assignment at home, papers should go directly back into the appropriate folder.
  7. Identify circadian rhythms: Is your early bird trying to complete homework at 10:00 p.m.? Is your night owl frantically trying to finish homework the morning before school? Work with your child’s natural cycles in order to determine the best homework time for them, given other commitments. An early bird may benefit from rising an hour earlier to get work completed.  A night owl may focus best getting starting after dinner.
  8. Study Smart: Kids learn in many different ways. For example, take a look at Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory in order to identify the way your child learns best. Tailor study time to their strengths. For example, interpersonal learners prefer to interact while learning, therefore, quizzing aloud and studying in groups would suit them well.
If homework time continues to be a struggle for your family, contact one of our Academic Specialists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy. Our Academic Specialists can create a homework time plan specific to your child and family’s needs.


How to Help with Homework

Homework time is one of the most difficult parts of a parent and child’s day, especially if your child has difficulty with the tasks Homework Helprequested of them. We are often asked how to give the help needed without “doing homework” for him/her. We understand, , that as a parent, you want your child to succeed in school; however, you don’t want to fight a battle every night watching your child struggle.

5 tips to make homework time a little easier:

  1. Remove all distractions: turn off electronics, clear the desk/table of extraneous items and provide enough light. It might also be helpful to provide a snack and ask them to use to restroom shortly before starting homework to minimize disruptions.
  2. Create a schedule: determine how much homework your child needs to complete that night. Allow your child to choose which activity he/she wishes to complete first, next and last. Choices are a great option to allow your child to retain some control during required activities. If a break is necessary mid-way through an activity, schedule that activity as well with a time allotment (e.g., “Okay, after your spelling words, you can have five minutes with your action figures before we start the math problems”). If your child would prefer a visual schedule, pictures can be utilized for the schedule instead of a written one.
  3. Make it fun: the best part about kids is that, in their world, everything is funny. Try practicing spelling words in funny voices. Use goofy items to count math problems. Practice handwriting with homemade mad-libs. Make up jokes and creative plays to practice new lessons. Emotions are contagious – if your child sees you having fun, they will too.
  4. Providing help: Children should never fail more than they succeed. In fact, they should succeed almost every time. If not, do what you can to make the task easier. Pick one aspect/goal for your child to focus on and you do the rest until they have mastered the task. For example, your child is required to write 10 sentences using new vocabulary words and both writing and sentence construction is very difficult for your child. Have him/her form ten sentences using a vocabulary word and have him/her say them aloud while YOU write them down. Once you have written the sentences, your child can copy your sentences by practicing their nice handwriting without the stress of making up a sentence. This will ultimately make homework time less stressful and boost a child’s sense of success and accomplishment, which are crucial to mental well-being.
  5. Use resources: Schools and libraries often have resources to provide suggestions for completing homework.

Remember, homework is an important tool that allows your child to keep up with their peers in the classroom; it should not be so time-consuming and difficult that it ultimately impacts you or your child’s home life and anxiety levels. If you have any questions, concerns or desire suggestions, feel free to contact us.

Strategies to Help Children with Language Disorders Tackle Homework

 

A language disorder can negatively impact a child’s academic success. For example, consider a child who has a difficult time homework strategiescomprehending multi-step or complex directions. They are likely to misinterpret their teachers’ instructions or misunderstand task directions. Parents often share the challenges they face when helping their child battle through homework assignments. Their child may frequently seem frustrated, lost or anxious about homework. This blog will highlight several ways in which a language disorder may negatively impact a child’s success with homework as well as strategies parents can use to help.

How might a language disorder impact homework success?

Your child might have difficulty:

  • Interpreting the directions, especially if they include multiple steps, unfamiliar linguistic terms or complex sentence structures.
  • Understanding linguistic concepts embedded throughout tasks. For example, math word problems are loaded with linguistic concepts such as “and, more, greater, less, with”, which impact the meaning of each problem.
  • Comprehending stories or written passages, including pertinent details, the main idea or the sequence of events.
  • Correctly answering various questions, including who, what, where, when, why and how. For example, some children may not yet know how to answer a “why” question and mistakenly answer as though it were a “what” question (e.g., “Why is the boy opening a present?” –“It’s a present!”).
  • Organizing their thoughts and ideas into a concise, sequential and grammatical response when asked open-ended questions.
  • Recalling vocabulary during naming tasks or open-ended responses.
  • Using correct syntax and morphology during responses. For example, many children with expressive language disorders have difficulty using correct verb tenses, plurals, pronouns and word order. Rather than say, “She is walking her dog”, a child may say “She walking his dog.”
  • Learning new vocabulary words or concepts. Children with language disorders often have difficulty comprehending new vocabulary, including the definition, class (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) and relationship to other words (e.g. “coffee” and “soda” are similar because they are both beverages, but they are different because coffee is hot and soda is cold).

How can parents support their children during homework tasks?

  • Occasionally ask “check-in questions” during reading or listening comprehension activities to make sure your child comprehends the information.
  • Keep a running list of new or challenging vocabulary words that come up during homework tasks. Try to review these words later to help your child better comprehend their meaning. You may make vocabulary flashcards, have your child define each term in their own words, draw a picture of the words, act words out or incorporate the words into a fun game.
  • Rephrase or simplify challenging sentences. For example, if the homework instructions say “Describe the author’s intention in writing this story”, you can simplify it by asking “What is this story about?” or “Why did they author write this book?”.
  • Use a slower rate of speech when giving instructions to allow your child extra processing time.
  • Repeat instructions as necessary.
  • Encourage your child to ask for help or request clarification when they are lost.
  • Use graphic organizers to help your child organize their thoughts and ideas. For example, if your child is writing an extended response, you can use a “story star” to brainstorm ideas, including writing the main idea in the center and all supporting details in each point.
  • Use a multiple choice format. This may not be possible for all assignments as it’s important for your child to eventually answer open-ended questions; however, using multiple choices may be a necessary accommodation in the meantime. If your child is still struggling, limit the number of choices to 2 and, over time, work towards 3 choices, then 4 and so on.
  • Encourage your child to self-monitor their work. Did they understand the instructions? Did they answer all the questions? Did they check their work?

Most importantly, ask your child’s speech-language pathologist for specific ways your child’s language disorder may negatively impact their academic skills. In order to intervene appropriately, it is crucial to know your child’s specific weaknesses. Your child’s therapist will be able to offer strategies tailored to meet your child’s specific needs. In addition, ask your child’s teacher for specific feedback about your child’s classroom performance. Provide them with specific information about your child’s speech and language weaknesses, how they may impact your child’s classroom success and strategies that may be helpful. In some cases, accommodations may be warranted (e.g., preferential seating, modified tests, increased testing time, etc.). Finally, if you suspect that your child has an undiagnosed speech and language disorder, seek evaluation from a licensed speech-language pathologist right away.

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Incorporating Balance into Your Child’s Before-School Routine

boy balancing on floorBalance, like many things, will only get better with practice and through challenging the balance systems. However, it can be hard to find time after school to work on balance activities when kids already have mountains of homework to keep up with. It can also be difficult to make balance exercises fun and enjoyable for kids.

In order to work on balance skills while saving time and keeping it interesting, here is a list of 5 balance activities that can easily be incorporated into your child’s before-school routine:

  1. Put pants, shoes, and socks on while standing up-This will require your child to stand on one leg while using her arms to don the clothing.
  2. Sit in ‘tall kneeling’ (sitting on knees with hips straight and knees kept at a 90 degree angle) while packing up the backpack-Sitting in the tall kneeling position narrows your child’s base of support, making it harder for her to maintain her balance. This posture also helps to strengthen her hip muscles, which are an important part of keeping her stable in positions that are challenging for her balance.
  3. Sit on a pillow while having breakfast-The pillow serves as an unstable surface, so your child will have to work hard to balance while sitting on it. This is a great way to work on core strength as well.
  4. Walk heel-to-toe on the way to the bus stop-Narrowing the base of support by walking heel to toe will challenge your child’s balance  and help improve her balance when she performs dynamic movements such as running or walking.
  5. Brush teeth with eyes closed-Vision is a big component of balancing, and when you close your eyes you are no longer able to rely on that sense to balance. Your body instead will have to use its vestibular and proprioceptive systems to keep steady.

It is going to be important to supervise your child when beginning these balance activities, as they may be hard at first. If you have significant concerns about your child’s balance with daily activities or if you have balance-related safety concerns, you can contact an occupational or physical therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy. To find out more about the vestibular system read our blog To find out more about the proprioceptive system read our blog

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