Not all kids work at the same pace. As an educator, I’ve seen many kids with slow processing speed who are smart, but who struggle to keep up with the pace in the classroom. When these kids are at school, they are (or should be) given accommodations like extra time or pre-made notes to help them navigate their school day successfully.
With all the pressures of parenting, however, it’s a different story at home. Parents often want kids to hurry up and finish their homework or chores so they can move on to the next activity on the to-do list. That’s a recipe for frustration for kids who work slowly.
My suggestion is to bring the spirit of your child’s school accommodations home. Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Don’t use a timer for tasks at home.
Setting a timer helps some kids keep focused. For many kids with slow processing speed, though, it often makes them anxious. Instead, to make sure tasks like chores and homework get done, I suggest creating predictable routines.
2. Stick to homework routines.
When it comes to homework, it’s important to do it in the same place and at the same time every night. Try to have your child complete subjects in the same order, too. Kids can waste a lot of mental energy deciding if they should do math or spelling homework first. A routine helps kids spend their energy on what’s important—actually doing the work.
3. Stick to chore routines, too.
Keep chores as routine as possible. It will help save time and energy if kids do the same chore every night for a week, rather than being assigned a new chore at the last minute. When you do assign a new chore, make sure to teach your child ahead of time what’s expected and how to do it.
4. Push back on homework that goes over the allotted time.
Keep a close eye on how much homework is assigned. If your child’s homework takes too long, reach out to the teacher. You might even need to ask for the school’s homework policy. In this case it may help for you to use a timer to see how long homework takes. But as I said above, don’t set up a race between your child and the clock.
5. Keep instructions simple and direct.
When life is crazy, it’s easy to blurt out: “Get your backpack, hang up your jacket, begin your homework, and hurry up! We have to leave in 20 minutes.” For kids with slow processing speed, a string of commands like that can be overwhelming. At home, like at school, give directions that are short and simple. It may help to give instructions just one or two steps at a time.
These are just a few ideas of how to bring school accommodations home. There are many more. Ask your child’s teacher for tips. Look at your child’s IEP or 504 plan for tools you can use. By applying school accommodations at home, you can make home life and homework a much happier, more productive time for your child.
Article by Maureen Paschal from Understood.org. Maureen Paschal is a teacher and librarian. She blogs at Raising The Capable Student and has a young adult son with ADHD.