Homework 101 or is that SOS???


Homework can get tense at times, I've been there! But thank goodness, over the years I mastered how to have a peaceful homework time. Well most of the time! 

And since I have learned a few things over the years, I wanted to share these with you and shift how we look at homework -- from a complete nightmare to an opportunity.  

Yes, an opportunity.

A time to figure out how your child learns and what's required of them at school -- both powerful things to know and when homework comes home you have a chance to dive in.

So let's look at those papers coming home as something powerful. 

 I actually get nervous if I don't see any homework coming home but that's another blog post.

So what are some tips to get your child (and you) ready for this homework "opportunity" 

1. Give Your Child a Break.

(I know.  Not what you were thinking for the first tip)

Allow them time away from learning to recharge. 

If you came home from work and then you were asked to sit down and work again without a break.  I think you might be a little cranky.  You would want to at least have a tea or something and maybe get into some comfortable clothes.  

Now your kids aren't gonna think this way, in fact, they might forget they need to change their clothes to play in the mud (yup..it's always the good clothes)  but the thought is still the same.  

Allow time when they get in the doors to diffuse from the demands of their day.  To play and enjoy the outdoors before it gets dark.  To talk to a friend or get a snack.  They need downtime particularly when school is hard and they are working hard to get their work done. 

2. Select a Time

Between all the after school activities figure out what time will work the best.  Set that time with your child and explain why that time fits the best.  It might work well if they work at the island while you make supper -- if the subject requires little support from you.  Or it might be best after supper and before they go to their dance or hockey game.  Discuss the time and then make it happen.

3. Break Down the Steps

Let's say your child has to work on homework because they didn't get it done in class (sound familiar?)

Well, this could mean... 

a. they didn't understand what to do so they didn't do it

b. they understood it but couldn't focus to get it done.  

c. they got some work done with the help of a friend but didn't get the remainder done within the time perhaps because they didn't truly understand it (and it just looks like they know what they are doing when they don't) 

So this is why you want to break down the steps for them - which means - you show them each step to complete all or part of what they are required to do.  And they watch.  Then you ask if they can work on part of what you just did.  If they can't.  You show them again and ask them what is difficult for them.  This time talk through what you are doing.  You might even use different colours or you may type while they tell you what they think (scribe). 

You are now helping them learn and you are figuring out what they need to learn.  This is the powerful part.  

You might be saying ....but I'm doing their homework for them?!?  I said this too...until I figured out what I was really doing.  You are helping them learn and complete something they couldn't do at school and maybe others didn't even realize they couldn't do it (because they are smart kids and will figure out how to survive the world of school) 

Help your child learn.  Forget the homework mentality... don't worry what others say.  Help your child figure out what they need to learn and where they are getting stuck.  This is what you want to talk to the teacher about  -- not that there is too much homework.  And if there's too much homework let them know what you are doing to support your child and what you are able to get done (or not) There is no homework jail (I'm pretty sure!!) 

4. Don't Show Them Everything

Let's say your child has an assignment to do.  So of course you want to help them finish it.  Show them just one part of what they need to do.  Don't pull out all the parts of the task and all  the books and alllllll the stuff... your child may just SHUT DOWN because step one is hard enough without adding 10 more.  

One step at a time.  And break down how to do that one part...support them...and figure out what they need. 

5. Focus on Your Child's Emotional Needs when Learning. 

If they are frustrated - it's a sign something is not working.  Yes, we all get frustrated when working on something new but if we have the right steps and support learning will not lead to emotional melt downs.  If your child is exhausted from the day because they have been in a 'fight and flight' state all day...then as parents we need to watch for this as well.  You child's emotional health is important and has an impact on their physical health.  Nothing is more important than your child's health.  They may need YOU.  Be ready to step back from the homework and offer you and some hugs.  It might be the best homework assignment yet. 


Why leaving your child's learning up to someone else is risky business

Why learning your child's learning up to someone else is Risky business

You know the feeling when you get an email from someone that shocks you.  

You wonder how could this happen?  What were they thinking?  Why didn't they tell me? 

You get the picture.  YOU are taken by surprise.  It happens.  

But what if the surprise had to do with your child's learning?  

Let's say the message was one of the following...

A teacher saying your child is fine and they don't need accommodations (strategies to help them learn) or the opposite, your child needs support and they will be moved to another classroom away from their peers. 

An assessment is completed by a tutor and your child is two grade levels below their peers with reading and writing.  

An OT states they are focusing on printing skills in grade 7 when your child has to complete full writing assignments in class. 

What do you do with this information?  

Do you take the assessments and suggestions and hope that others are making the best call?  

Do you get fired up and start sending letters to school staff about not offering resource support? 

OR....Do you decide to figure out where your child is at and what they need  -- so you can use the assessments to help your child move forward or question the results of others based on your observations and what you know?  

Yes, you can do this.  

You know your child.  

And in fact, you know them very well and you are the most consistent person in their life!

So when you leave your child's learning in the hands of others without knowing what your child really needs to help them learn...it leaves you and your child in the hands of others.

And when this happens, you step out of the position of empowering your child and helping them see their learning abilities.  Yes, you can help them see their learning abilities.  

When you know what your child needs and where they are at in terms of their learning, you can offer insights into assessment findings and recommendations that are may be right on target or really off course. 

But here's the thing...you might need to  learn a new skill as a parent.  You might have to stop and learn what it is your child needs.   But you know what -- it will pay off -- and it will pay off big. 

You don't have to figure everything out yourself but you do need to start learning! 

So where do you start? 

You get the support you need by investing in one of the Strategy Sessions available.  The Strategy Sessions will allow you to get the support you need - so you can see what your child needs!

Start empowering you and your child!  Don't leave learning up to others...without you having insights into what they are working on. Stop the risky business and start planning!

You can do this.



Epic strategies to help your child "learn their way'


You want your child to learn.  You want your child to be successful.  

But in our desire to want this we sometimes miss what they need the most, to figure out how they learn.  I know you might be saying, "I can't do that" I'm just a mom or just a dad. 


You and your child CAN figure out what fits their learning!

And.. you want to do this as it allows you both to move forward in a powerful way.


So what can you start to do to help you support your child's way of learning? 

First of you have to...


To start with you have select one skill (and even parts of a skill) to help you find out what your child knows and where they might be getting stuck. 

I'm gonna talk about letters as this is a skill that we can all relate to and all kids have to focus on this skill early in their learning.

Part of my Learn Their Way Checklist for Letters and Printing

Letters. You have to know them by name.  You have to know the sound they make and you have to be able to form or print them.  That's a lot of skills for just 'LETTERS'.

To help you walk through what it's like to focus on one skill and figure out how to look at different skills take a look at my sample checklist for letters and printing from my Learn Their Way Program. (psst you can also get a copy of this page and the other 2 pages in my free parent resource area)

Now that you have a skill selected --  the next step is to: 


I know you watch your child BUT you need to really watch your child. The word I use as an Occupational Therapist is observe.  

You have to 'see' where your child stops or where they have confusion.  Don't worry about figuring out why this is happening just yet.  

You are just observing. 

Finally, you want to


You are now going to write down what you see. 

Let's go back to letters again.  Let's say your are observing your child and you start to figure out that they are great at knowing letters in their name but as soon as you ask for other letters they don't know them.  You are coming across some information that is very powerful.  Write it down. 

Or you might start to notice that your child knows more big letters (ABCD) than little letters (abcd) you are not only gathering insight but you are on your way to figuring out where your child needs your support (and support from others)  

Your child may be able to print all the letters that are in front of them but not able to recall them without a picture in front of them.  Write it down. 

These are very important pieces of information that you can share with others so they can help you better AND it helps you and your child gain insights (the powerful stuff) 

(If you want the additional pages to write down what you observe for letters and printing you can get that in my free resource page

If you want someone to help you gain insights into what you are seeing and steps to put strategies in place for your child, you need to sign up for my upcoming My Learn Their Way Program

The program will help guide and support you and offer more in depth strategies to help you make the progress you want to see.  



Older kids need support too

older kids need support too!

Your child is heading to high school or maybe even university.  

You know they need support with their school work ...but it's a different type of support.

Your child may need some strategies that allow them to organize their schedules, read books at a quicker rate, and write with a minimal amount of errors (I only say this as my writing tends to have a few errors in it as well. We are all human.)

Your child may need to figure out how they learn even though they have managed to get through elementary and high school, they still need to understand their way of learning so they can move forward with confidence. 

You can label these skills as executive functioning, advanced writing or reading comprehensions skills ...they are a lot of labels out there but the real fact is your child has some skills that need support and strategies put in place so they can get their tasks done, whether that's school, work or life.

I have worked with a number of older students and these are some things they needed support with and your child might too:

5 ways older students may need support and strategies for school:

1. Communicating with teachers about their accommodations - how and when to do this.

2. Figuring out how to learning in a way that fits them and their needs (all needs...including social needs) 

3. Figure out what to focus on when it comes to excelling at school? (also known as their strengths)  And what does that mean for their course load and the courses they select? 

4. Knowing they (your child) are not alone when it comes to their learning.  Find someone your child can talk to or listen to their story so they feel they have the abilities to succeed in school. 

5. Managing their time and recalling what they need to work on and hand in (ummm ...we all need this to some extent as well!) 

So if you think your child is too old for support or strategies -- they are not!! As I mentioned above some the these skills, we can all work on the only difference is they need these skills now so they can select the right path for their future...which so very important! 

You got this!



(OT) What do you do when YOU need support?

OTs: what do you do when YOU need support?

I gotta know!  

What do you do when you need help or support to figure out technology for your clients?


Do you ask questions? 

Do you google to get some facts/strategies? 

Do you download a random app list?  

Do you ask to watch others? 

You can put a WHOLE lot of effort into figuring out what to do, but if you don’t feel confident in using technology, the results will be limited. 

You might be wondering how to move a client from one skill to another using technology.  

Or, how and when to transfer skills away from technology. 

If you are using all your time to look for answers, you might be using up your precious time! 

I want YOU to be a confident OT. 

I want YOU to know exactly why you are using technology and how to use it. 

And I want YOU to be able to create your app list and customize apps for the client you have in front of you right now. 

So here’s what you can do now: 

1. I want you to think about a skill you love to assess.  (sensory, fine motor, visual perceptual, etc.) 
2. I want you to now look for all the technology that supports this one skill area.  (only this one area -- nothing more) 
3. I want you to think of a client that you already have on your caseload that needs support in this area (so you already know what skills they need to develop) 

4. I want you to try the app or technology with them (maybe it’s an app and the iPad or software and a laptop, etc.) 
Finally, consider if you are working either directly or indirectly with them as you use technology. 

5. Now I want you to observe -- what worked and what did not? When you do this, you will learn what skills the app will work on and what it doesn’t which is excellent for your client!  Now you have an idea of what will work for others with similar needs. 

6. Go through this cycle again and keep track of the apps and what they work on.  

You are now stepping into the world of technology and skill development!! Woo Hooo! 

But let's take this a step further and sign up for the iPads at School Program

to give you LOTs of strategies to use technology powerfully. 

Keep going and let me know how you make out in your technology adventures!!  

You got this!


P.S. The Summer time pricing for the iPads at School Program will be changing in September.  Don't miss it! $197.00 instead of $325.00. 

Strategy Sessions: What are Moms saying?

Strategy Sessions: What are people saying?

Feedback is so important.  I ask for it after I work with a client to find out what is working and what is not. You can read some of the comments listed below.  

Each of my Strategy Sessions are different as it depends on what the client needs and what level of support they are looking for.  It can be a one time session or multiply sessions.  

Strategy Sessions with Follow up Sessions

"My son was having difficulties getting thoughts from his head to paper. He was feeling discouraged when he was unable to work as quickly as classmates.

We were stressed over simple homework assignments. They were taking a long time and my son was frustrated.

The biggest takeaways from the Strategy Sessions was having the technology to make things easier for my son so he could write and edit his work. My son feels more confident and doesn’t feel bogged down by homework anymore. 

My son knows now that everyone learns differently and that’s okay. He knows now how to express himself better in what helps him make sense of things."

VIP Strategy Sessions

I was having a difficult time managing my time with my daughter, I was unsure if I should be working on first..it was all very new and overwhelming

The biggest VIP take away was having a schedule written up for our day and I felt I had a better grasp on making the most of my daughter’s day. I also felt like I was encouraged to just play and be her mom and everything didn’t need to be planned and structured

The Strategy Sessions helped us at a time where we were very overwhelmed and at a stand still.

After the Strategy Sessions, I felt much more confident and organized. I felt like she made gains quicker, and I spent less time figuring out what to do with our time and referred to the schedule and suggestions from Susan.

VIP Strategy Sessions

My son benefitted from the apps/programs allowing him to type his answers on the computer, organize his materials and the use of the pdf transfer sheets allowing him to answer questions on his computer reducing the dysgraphia challenge. He is learning to break down his work into more digestible pieces and encouraged to keep working and not give up. My son’s frustration is reduced by the reduction in the distractions during his learning time, his ability to meet his sensory needs when he needs it and then be able to continue with a minimum of interruption. 

The awesome by-product of all of this is that he can focus more on his school work and has freed him up to feel more willing to socialize knowing his learning challenges have been addressed.

My son and I felt encouraged and validated. Your clarification of his challenges, your confirmation of the strategies that had already been implemented and your further provision of strategies has increased his self-esteem and has encouraged him to apply himself with a more positive attitude.

My son was encouraged by the success he experienced and the respect he received from you working with him. He is now gradually building his self-esteem, recognizing that he is not inadequate but that his difficulties are a result of a specific learning needs. 
My son now uses technology to answer questions without having to be overwhelmed by the grammar piece. He can focus on his ideas and then return to his work to correct spelling errors with word search and then separately focus on grammar and sentence structure.

Parent Workshop

I learned more from you (Susan) in 1 hour than I have from others over the years.