Therapist Guide to Homeschooling

Tackling school from home? “Oh man, how do teachers do this for a whole class?!” “My child cannot complete these assignments like it says in the packet.”

It can be a great challenge, right? There are many factor’s that play into the challenge that so many are facing right now, to provide schooling at home. A big component of a child’s learning is their environment and schedule, and those have been taken away from children during this time. Home has not been a place for doing large amounts of class work, just homework or projects here and there after school. So, how can we help our child be more successful in the completion of these new demands? We need to work to create an environment that promotes their learning and attention. Here are some tips on how to create a space and schedule that may help your child’s attention and performance in schoolwork at home:

*Designate a space that is only used for schoolwork: this means a space where the child knows it is for purposefully set apart for schooling, it can help the child to know the expectations, for “work” and not play

*Choose a place that is away from traffic in the home: this should be away from TVs, and others working as much as able, it can be difficult is multiple children are in the home, and caregivers working from home, you can also set up a “divider” of some sort (tri-fold poster boards work great!) to help with visual distractions (this is also a great place to put their daily schedule!)

*Clear the area of distractions as much as possible: remove unneeded items that could lead to distractions, this could be extra school supplies or toys that have been left out; DO allow a “fidget” if the child uses one at school or for other tasks that require attention to task

*Have the supplies ready for whatever task they need to complete, to eliminate the need to get up to get items before the task is complete (this can include chargers for computers for online work)

* Provide a chair that allows their feet to be on the ground, or provide a foot rest: this will provide better positioning, and input for their body, leading to better attention to task, and potentially even better task performance (such as in handwriting)

*Have a clear, but time flexible schedule: by using topics/subject and not time frames, this allows the child to work at their own pace, and not be rushed by a time limit (don’t forget to include meal times!): this will let your child know what to expect for the day and what your expectations are for their work

*Switch between tasks/subjects the child enjoys, and that are challenging, this can be a motivational factor and allow for more tasks to be completed, each child may need to start differently, one child may need to start with a more challenging task to “get it out of the way”, while another child may need to start with a task they enjoy to engage them at the start of the day

*Include sensory breaks (this is SO important): children need to move, build in a movement time to allow them to dance, jump around, do yoga, or whatever movement they enjoy, this will give their body the necessary input to allow for better arousal and attention

These are some suggestions that occupational therapists often use when working with children to support their attention and engagement. I hope they can be beneficial for you too, in the home!

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