As parents, we know that keeping up with school work is important for our kids’ success in school. But struggling learners might be overwhelmed after a full day of school and then come home to hours of school work. Many of our kids—both with and without learning challenges—need skills to make school work less stressful. Here is how our family structured school work time so our kids were more successful and everyone was less stressed.
We’d start the afternoon with a break. There was time for a snack and to run around outside and decompress. Then we’d go through backpacks to check for teachers’ notes and assignments.
Then we’d go to our location for school work. We found that the dining room table was a practical space for our kids to work. It was a quiet area, close to the kitchen where I was usually preparing dinner. I could keep an eye on their progress while giving them the chance to self-manage.
Each child had their own school work box. The boxes had things they needed to complete school work. They were filled with pens, pencils, erasers, paper, crayons, map pencils, markers, scissors, and glue.
If my kids seemed stuck on how to start, I would help them get organized. After they were finished, one parent would check their work. Then their work went into their school work folder and into their backpack.
This system worked great most of the time. But sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes, school work assignments were too long. If too much time was required to complete all their work, we would request Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings to get school work assignments reduced.
My daughter worked too hard with school work, only taking breaks if we insisted. On the other hand, my son on the Autism spectrum needed frequent breaks. He also required a visual schedule to keep him on task. We made sure that his tasks were broken down into small pieces so he didn’t get overwhelmed. These accommodations lowered the stress that school work could bring.
By being prepared, we helped our kids be more successful students. School work was not an added stressor. It became an important tool on their journey toward later success.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.