Sitting Still for Homework

Develop Organizational Skills

Use a Shower Caddy for Homework Supplies

Your child constantly bounces up from homework to get a snack, find a sharpened pencil, or retrieve a book she misplaced. As a result, she doesn’t get her homework done efficiently.

All children are occasionally distracted from doing their homework. But when your child chronically stalls or gets up from the table or her desk for different reasons, this could indicate she is struggling to develop organization skills.

Organization is one of our executive functions: the set of skills that let us effectively execute daily tasks.

Solution: Shower caddy containing all homework supplies

Most young children prefer doing homework at the kitchen table. This can work if a child has a shower caddy containing all of the supplies she needs for homework. This way, she can transport the caddy to her desk if she does her homework there, too. Every time a child interrupts her flow of work, it can add to her sense of disorganization. Having everything at her fingertips helps to give her the focus she needs to work.

Her shower caddy should include items such as:

  • Her favorite eraser
  • Several sharpened pencils
  • Sticky notes
  • Pens
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Ruler
  • Calculator (if appropriate)
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape

Don’t do this: Put the homework and a pencil on the table and tell your child to sit down and get to work.

Do this instead: Create the quiet, distraction-free environment she needs to work — have a shower caddy of supplies and her snack, glass of water, sweat shirt, backpack, and box of tissues, if necessary, right next to her on the table.

Remember: When your child keeps getting up from her homework, it’s not necessarily to avoid doing it. She has problems with her organizational skills that need support.

It is perfectly normal for children to experience some degree of difficulty and frustration as they learn to execute new tasks. Toddlers can tantrum, school-aged children can yell and argue, and teenagers can ignore instructions. When deciding if executive function weaknesses require intervention, ask yourself: “How frequently is this occurring? How intense is the experience/significant the impact?” If your answer to these questions is “too much,” “too often,” “I don’t know what to do to change this,” or “it’s only getting worse,” you may benefit from a face-to-face conversation to help problem-solve your concern. Effective problem solving will help you clearly identify the problem, goal, steps it will take to achieve your goal, possible barriers, and available supports.

Girl and boy smiling

What to Expect

You and your child or adolescent will meet with a pediatric neuropsychologist for approximately one hour. 

Teenage boy smiling

Executive Function Interventions

These interventions aim to create new habits that can sidestep or override a child’s cognitive challenges.

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