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The Homework Environment
Is The Homework Environment Stimulating?
Why do children and adults strongly desire to go to places like Disney World? Why do they pay the expensive rates charged to enter the amusment park? When Disney World guest arrive, are they delighted before entering the park? After spending the day in the park, why are people not ready to leave?
Can you answer the above questions in one word? I can. STIMULATION.
Of course Disney World and the homework environment are not in the same arena but I wanted to make a point.
Interest must be incited. Very few people want to do homework, but it must me done. If the environment is stimulating it may be easier and more invigorating to stay in it and complete the task at hand.
What Is Stimulation?
According to Mirriam-Webster Online the word stimulation means:
to make (something) more active
to cause or encourage (something) to happen or develop
to make (a person) excited or interested in something
Steps in Creating the Best Homework Environment
Every child is unique. Therefore the homework environment must be suited for each individual. Start by asking questions about the child.
- When is the child most productive?
- What does the child pay most attention to?
- What catches the child's attention?
- Is the child a talker?
- Is the child a listener?
- Does the child like to touch everything?
- Does the child like to have something in his or her hand when watching a movie?
- Approximately how long does the child sit still on his or her own?
- Is the child easily distracted?
- Is the child easily re-directed?
- Is the child very focused?
- What holds the child's attention?
- Does the child like to work alone?
- Does the child like to interact when working?
There is no set pattern for the answers to these questions. For example, the child may be a talker and a listener, or sometimes the child may like to work alone and other times the child may want to interact when working. The anwers to these questions will help you begin to determine how you want to set up the child's homework space.
Making Choices for the Homework Environment
The location for the homework setting is first determined by what you have available and then by some of the answers to the above questions and other thngs that you know about the child.
If the child does not like noise and is easily distracted he or she should not do homework in the kitchen or a place where the family may gather.
The homework space can be mobil or one disignated area.
I must have some noise in my work space. Complete silence is very distracting for me. I love music but I don't choose to listen to music when I am working. I am not sure why. I prefer the television. My desk faces a wall opposite the television. I do turn and watch something that catches my attention for a few moments and then I am back to work.
I also struggle with sitting for long periods of time. This too is very distracting for me. I will usually work on more than one task at a time. I know this sounds unproductive, but since i figured this out I am completing things that I start. I have a house filled with incomplete projects. It has been my pattern since I was a child and it was called "lazy." I knew that I was not lazy but I did not know why I struggled to complete what I put my hands to especially when it was something that I really wanted to do.
Pay attention to patterns. They show up very early in a child's life. Being able to stop and work on something else such as making the bed, taking a bath, or a different assignment may help the child to complete his or her tasks.
Time allotments are necessary for this type of worker. The knowledge of not having to sit until the assignment is finished makes it easier to sit but the child must also know how long the break is. He or she must understand that when the time is up he or she must return. A timer really helps with keeping track of time.
What does the child see around him or her? What emotions might the visuals stir up?
Remember to watch for patterns. You want the child to feel pleasure or feel good while in the homework environment.
When the child chooses a book, what does the cover look like? Is it colorful? Does it have pictures? What are the pictures of? Is the book large?
What kind of games does the child really enjoy? Do they have lots of pieces. Legos initially appeal to most kids but some only play with them for several minutes. Others will play with them as long as they can.
What kind of shows do they watch over and over? Does the show have a lot of action or movement? Is it slow paced with a lot of dialog?
Family photos, favorite characters, and things that the child enjoys or made could be displayed aroung the environment along with eye catching displays of information to be learned by the child this year. Projects that the child has started should be visable.
Something to Touch
For some children brainstorming is boosted by "something in my hands." There are many small rubbery manipulatives in the market today. Playdough, a small ball of it, can be available for the child to pick up and roll around in his or her hand while making a decision about the title or what to write next. Tapping a pencil on the desk or table may seem distracting to you but for the child it is keeping him or her focused or stabiizing their thoughts.
Allow the child to touch and manipulate tangible objects and evaluate whether the child is productive with this activity going on. You should observe several times without commenting.
How will I do this? What will I need?
For some, the plan is easy. They easily determine what they will need to produce the outcome that is in their mind.
For others this is a little more challenging. After they start, they find that what they are doing is not producing what is in their mind. Trial and error is essential for this person. Whether they are writing a story or making a map or developing a science project, allow for them to make changes in their plan. Encourage them not to give up. Share with them that even though your first idea did not work, try something else. This type of worker must always start early. Changing activities for a short time will sometimes help conquer frustration and open the mind for new ideas.
Ideas may need some stimulation. Depending on the assignment choose some websites that will provide visuals and information. Ask questions and try to get the child to verbalize what he or she wants to accomplish. Have them re-visit the teachers instructions and examples.
The purpose of this article is not to tell you exactly how to set up your child's homework environment but to encourage you to set up a homework envirnment that is suitable for your child.
Understanding when and where a person is productive and what prompts them to achieve is a valuable tool for enhancing your child's success.