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  • Writer's pictureBeth Morrant

Homeschooling tips to help SEN children with attention and listening

Hands up who is finding it tricky to motivate their children to do school work at home? 🙋‍♀️

Teachers have a few tricks and strategies that they use in their classroom to help their students focus but it’s much more difficult to ensure that work is getting done at home and some parents are reaching out to ask for help.

Firstly, there is no urgency to complete work. For some families, just being together and getting through the day is enough. Spellings and times tables can wait for now. Cuddles love and reassurance is more of a priority.

But for anyone who would like a little extra help, here are my top tips, tried and tested with my own children who are primary school aged, one has ADHD:

Reduce distractions

Turn off the tv/radio/electronic devices, unless you are using them for this specific learning activity.

Give lots of positive feedback

I really go to town when my kids have finished a sentence/completed a page of their maths work/made a good effort with their work.

Lots of positive phrases “that’s fantastic!” “I love how you did X” “I saw that you were concentrating so hard, well done!”

Extra cuddles are given to my kiddies too because I’m a hugger 🤗.

Use motivators and reinforcers

My kids love watching YouTube videos and we (my husband and I) use this as a motivator to get them to do work using a now/next strategy:

  • NOW: these 3 pages of activities your lovely teacher created especially for you.

  • NEXT: 30 mins on your tablet device.

Work for shorter periods of time

We have discovered that working from 9-3 is absolutely horrible for us as a family and so we settled for 10-12, focusing on English and maths, with some cross-curricular activities like gardening, cooking, even cleaning (!) in the afternoons. This helps the children to be away from the table, doing more ‘fun’ things. And I get to delegate some housework 😉.

Use timers

We’re working at the table in our kitchen-diner and use the clock on the oven to help our kids to tell the time and to know when the activity will be done.

We’ve actually carried this activity over to other parts of the day e.g. you can watch your DVD until the clock says 18:30, we’ll do the dusting for 5 minutes, what time will the clock say in 5 minutes?

Occasionally we use a timer (either our 3-minute sand timer or an app on my i-pad) to countdown until the end of the task. The tip with timers is to not re-set it if the activity is not quite finished or the child needs more time. When the time is up, it’s up. Be consistent and stick to the rules. You can always go back and finish the activity another time.

Use visuals

We have a timetable of activities written on our fridge. It’s nothing fancy (see pic).

The morning activities are a must-do, but the afternoon activities are a choice or combination of the ones listed.

Having the choice helps our youngest daughter as she likes to be in charge and boss everyone about (I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree 🤷‍♀️🍏).

We also use the sheets of work sent from school as a visual e.g. “there are 3 pages to do and then you’re done!”

Sharing ideas and tips

I’d love to hear of your top tips for supporting attention and listening at home. You can send me an email or find me on facebook.

My final top tip with encouraging your children to complete their work is to make it more motivating, because if it’s not fun, it won’t get done!

Where all else fails, bribe them with sweets and biscuits! 🍪

Have fun!

Beth xx

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