By: JJ Mejasic OTR/L

After a long day at school, the last thing a child wants to do is come home and do more work. Homework can be even harder for children with difficulties in the area of self-regulation due to their deficits in attention, direction following, and poor organizational abilities.

Throughout the day, these children have to maintain an organized state despite demands from their environment and from various challenging tasks. For children with sensory processing deficits, occupational therapists develop sensory diets in order to assist a child to be more available for learning opportunities and also maintain an organized state throughout their days.

Below are some sensory diet activities and modifications that can be helpful for homework time:

  • Before a child starts their homework, it is important to give them at least 20-30 minutes of sensory movement activities when they arrive home from school. During this time, a child can participate in a variety of heavy work activities to provide proprioceptive input to muscles and joints.
    • Some examples of “heavy work” activities are the following:
      • Tug of war with a blanket or towel
      • Animal walks (wheelbarrow walks, crab walks, bear walks, frog jumps) down a hallway
      • Jumping on a trampoline or ground using two feet
      • Pushing, pulling, carrying, or lifting heavy objects around the house
      • Snow angels lying on the floor
      • Running up/down the hallway for multiple trials
      • Running and crashing onto pillows
      • Climbing and crawling activities
      • Yoga poses while weight-bearing on hands /arms and legs/feet
  • During homework, a child can be provided with a variety of oral sensory input experiences through a crunchy or chewy snack, drinking a thicker liquid that provides resistance (smoothie, yogurt, etc.), chewing gum, or a chewy tube to assist with their attention to the task.
  • Make sure to set up the child’s homework environment for success:
    • Have the child complete their homework in a quiet area that is free of any external distractions or external stimuli (tv, electronics, a messy table, etc.)
    • If a child tolerates wearing headphones on their ears, try offering earplugs during homework to filter out extraneous auditory stimuli in the environment.

Let us know if you have questions concerning these sensory diet activities and modifications, sensory processing disorder, sensory integration therapy, or any of the therapy services we offer. We are here to help you and your child, so contact us as soon as possible for more information!