Classroom, Emotional regulation, Executive Function, Just for Students, self-regulation, Social Cognition, Uncategorized

7 Self-Regulation Tips to Reduce Homework Battles With Your Child

I originally wrote this post for Beyond BookSmart, and it appeared on their blog on October 17, 2016: http://www.beyondbooksmart.com/executive-functioning-strategies-blog/7-self-regulation-tips-to-reduce-homework-battles-with-your-child. For other GREAT resources on executive functioning, planning and prioritizing, improving confidence, emotional regulation strategies, and focusing and attention strategies, check out the rest of the wonderful blog posts: http://www.beyondbooksmart.com/executive-functioning-strategies-blog

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-12-14-10-pm

Few tasks test self-regulation skills like homework time. Self-regulation is critical to one’s ability to manage challenging or complex situations, and homework time is no exception. Strong self-regulation is multifaceted; it involves regulation of one’s thoughts, emotions, actions, and motivation. Although these skills continue to develop into adulthood, building and strengthening them from an early age can reduce stress and provide the drive to attempt new experiences. Students can integrate practices into home and school activities that strengthen and support a foundation of self-regulation. Below are seven tips students can use in their daily routines to promote happier homework time.

1: Make a homework plan

It doesn’t always make sense for your child to start with the homework assignment from his first class of the day. Some students feel more motivated when they get the biggest assignment out of the way first, while others need to get started with a small task in order to avoid a state of emotional overload. Encourage your child to first make a list of all tasks on deck for the day, and then arrange them into an order that will promote success. Setting aside a few minutes to make a homework plan before getting started can save time, frustration, and stress in the long run.

2: Stock your homework space ahead of time

A quick trip to find a sharp pencil can easily turn into an hour-long distraction. Before getting started, consider what supplies are needed to complete the homework and stock the workspace. Some students benefit from a tri-fold poster board used as a makeshift study station to reduce visual distractions. Wherever your child plans to complete homework, make sure the area is distraction-free and that the necessary supplies are readily available so precious work time isn’t wasted looking for more graph paper.

3: Support basic (subcortical) needs

The brain’s sub-cortex involves the “downstairs,” lower-level brain structures that manage emotions and generate seek and avoid impulses. When the sub-cortex is dysregulated, the brain devotes most or all of its cognitive resources to those structures in order to ensure that we feel safe and comfortable. This leads to decreased cognitive energy reaching the prefrontal, “thinking” parts of the brain that students need to successfully complete homework. Your child can support subcortical regulation by ensuring that he/she has had enough sleep, hydration, food, and movement.

4: Know your triggers and plan ahead

If a certain type of task is a consistent emotional trigger for homework battles with your child, encourage him/her to pre-regulate. This might involve intentionally setting up the environment to be as calming as possible, using a favorite pen or pencil to add a little fun to the task, taking some deep breaths prior to starting, identifying a small reward for completing the task, or setting aside time for a break mid-way through the homework. Anticipating the likelihood of dysregulation and planning ahead helps to avoid the emotional hijacking that otherwise feels like it sneaks up out of nowhere when students are working through an assignment they don’t enjoy.

5: Use future emotion to motivate present action

Often, students get stuck in a “now bubble” about how annoyed, frustrated, bored, or overwhelmed they feel at the thought of starting homework right now. It’s no surprise that these uncomfortable emotional states don’t provide much motivation to get started. Encourage students to shift their focus from how they feelright now to how they will feel when the homework is complete. Proud? Relieved? Accomplished? Use this future emotion to motivate the present action of getting started.

6: Snack smarter

Not all foods impact the brain’s endurance equally, and choosing the wrong snack can lead to a major blood sugar crash mid-homework time. Fueling up for homework is a great way to support the brain’s sub-cortex, and students should consider snacks that provide consistent energy to the brain and/or feed their sensory processing needs. Snacks with complex carbohydrates and protein-rich foods provide slow-release energy for the brain without the intense low soon after consumption. Chewy foods (e.g., dried fruit) and crunchy foods (e.g., nuts, whole-grain crackers, raw veggies) can provide sensory input for students who might otherwise feel distracted by sensory-seeking impulses.

7: Plan breaks wisely

The brain is most attentive for fifteen to twenty-minute increments. While some students can make it through marathon homework sessions, many need to break up the time to give their brains a rest. Breaks can be wonderful, but only if the student can successfully shift back to the homework task. Avoid break activities that involve nebulous timing (e.g., playing outside for a while) or ones that can’t be easily paused (e.g., video games that require the player to reach the next level before stopping). To avoid the drama of transitioning from a break back to homework, consider break activities that have explicit start and end boundaries(e.g., a five-minute YouTube video, twenty jumping jacks, listening to three songs, etc.). If vague end times can’t be avoided, set a timer to create a strict cut-off time.

Advertisements
Apps, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

Screen Chomp Magic

I’ll be the first to admit it: I live the GLAMOROUS life of a grad student. Early morning panics about exams, long nights writing 10-page final case summaries in the computer lab, overdosing on caffeine… Truly the life of luxury (I know you all remember those days, or are currently living those days). In addition to my regular class & clinic work, I am teaching 2 sections of a 100-level, mile-wide-inch-deep undergrad intro course for our department this quarter.

Throughout these past 10 weeks, I have certainly seen the error of my ways in trying to teach 65 freshman –> seniors challenging concepts like “language disorders,” “audition,” and my personal favorite, “IPA” in 50-minute classes. IPA was actually split into 2 classes (because 100 minutes is totally enough time to explain all there is to know about linguistics and phonemes and diacritics and phonotactics and…yeah, you get it!). So while flopped on my couch last week in a bout of despair, I opened up my iPad and decided to try a brand new app I’d just downloaded: ScreenChomp. I had no idea what the app did, but since I’m always one to give $free.99 apps a chance, I figured it was a good app to test out. It took me all of 8 seconds before I was yelling “HALLELUJAH” for ScreenChomp!

ScreenChomp is a way to make interactive videos that you can then share via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. When you open the app, you are presented with the screen above. In order to start a new project, you click on the “Draw and Record” button, which will bring you to the screen below:

For any presentation, you can either have a blank “whiteboard” background (like the one shown), or you can click on the button in the bottom left-hand corner to choose a background that you’ve uploaded onto your iPad either as a document or photo. Once your background is chosen, you can write on it with various colored markers (with various size options), erase, clear the entire page, and record your voice as you go! A finished presentation can be “shared” via email or social networking sites.

So, why was I so excited about this for my undergrad classes? Rather than take additional class time to offer practice with IPA transcription (which they badly needed) or to do tons of final exam review, I could make “tutorial videos” for my students to watch on their own time, in the comfort of their own homes! So far my students have had nothing but positive things to say about the video presentations (even though my stylus “handwriting” looks like a preschooler writing while on a roller coaster). I have included links to 2 actual videos I sent to my classes. Please please PLEASE forgive my general goofiness that appears in these…they tended to be created verrrrrrrry late at night on verrrrrrrry little sleep. Also, the info. presented to this class is super-dee-duper basic and might not be up to par for you brilliant SLPs (just an attempt to give a basic presentation of this info. to students from other majors). Although I’m using the videos in college-level classes, I foresee TONS of ways this app can be used in a therapy setting with school-age kids (or even little guys). It would be a FANTASTIC way to demo homework activities or to train parents/caregivers of clients! As a free app, I think ScreenChomp is a must-have on every iPad!

Video project of IPA transcription practice: http://www.screenchomp.com/t/MsI38Avnjr. This one uses a background I imported into the app (from a different app).

Video project of final exam review: http://www.screenchomp.com/t/V62khm4Mll. This one uses the blank “whiteboard” background. ***disclaimer: I accidentally say “functional voice disorder” at one point when I mean “organic voice disorder.” Proof I am sooooo not perfect…sigh!

 

A Good Laugh

SLPs Really DO Facilitate Academics!

A google search for “homework fails” never lets me down when I need a good laugh.  When I’m looking through these, I’m constantly reminded about how important speech-language pathology is in helping kids learn to make inferences, appreciate figurative language, manipulate the truth, or just find ways to express how they feel.  Also, I just get a good laugh at how ridiculous they are sometimes! Here are some great ones from today’s search!

Some kids are just…too…literal:

Other kids are just too honest…

BUT, at least they are COMMUNICATING!  Hahaha.  Smile on!