By Priscilla J. Dunstan, McClatchy-Tribune
There’s a time and place for everything, including homework. Often, finding the right time to tackle that homework pile effects how likely it is to be done. Not all children are able to come home and study: some need to have some relaxation time, while others will never get it done if it’s not tackled straight away. Your child’s dominant sense will give you great insight into how and when to set the homework schedule.
Tactile children need to move. Don’t expect them to come home from school and get down to homework. They will need to let off steam — by running around or throwing a ball — before they can sit down and concentrate. Let them have a snack and play a bit before guiding them to homework. A tactile child will most likely fidget when trying to learn something; she isn’t being bad, she just needs to move to be able to retain information in her memory! If a tactile child is trying to memorize spelling or times tables, often using a physical game can help. Suggest that they hop as they spell the word, or throw a ball for every “5 x 6.” This will help them remember, whilst allowing some fun.
Auditory children will need to debrief before they can settle into homework, so allow a “what happened at school today” period in their schedule. They may also like to talk through their homework with you, which will help them cement the task in their mind, and to get clear about what they are expected to do. Auditory children process information through saying it out aloud, so don’t expect them to sit quietly and write up assignments. If they need to memorize, try to find rhymes or tape the required information onto a tape, and let them listen to it whilst playing.
Visual children need to come home and relax, doing something unvisual for a while. This means no TV straight after school, as this will over-stimulate them. Give them a snack; let them play for a bit, then settle them down for homework. They will require the feeling of organization before they can comfortably start. Set up a special homework area, and be sure they have everything they need at hand books, pencils, notebooks, etc. This will help avoid the child spending more time organizing than actually doing. Treat them to nice-looking stationary, unique pens, etc., as it will help them focus.
Taste and smell children will want to connect emotionally with home, as soon as they get home, which, ironically, will get in the way of doing homework. The Taste and smell child can often find the transition from home to school difficult. They will resist doing schoolwork if they have already switched to home-mode, as doing so will require another transition to school-mode. For these children, urge them to get their homework done as quickly as possible. There is time for a quick snack, but then get down to business, and follow it with some special family or friend time.
If they become particularly difficult, try having them stay at school to complete their homework, or stop at the local library or cafe before going home. These children will crave emotional contact whilst completing their tasks, so bring along some of your own paperwork, to create the feeling of doing it together.
Timing often affects success, and knowing when to get your child to complete their homework can have a dramatic effect. Being aware of your child’s dominant sense, and catering to it, can truly help.
Priscilla J. Dunstan is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of Child Sense. Learn more about Priscilla and her parenting discoveries at www.childsense.com.