Sometimes it's hard to know where to start

A big challenge for many learners with neurological or developmental differences can be homework completion. This can also be a huge hurdle for some family systems as it creates one more thing for parents to manage with their children and one more source of conflict that erodes the child’s confidence and connection with parents. Taking a small piece of the process from Dr. Thomas Phelan’s “1-2-3 Magic”, I often employ a no talking strategy. Instead, I just start the work that I see is outstanding by do things like making a copy of the template and then asking the learner to do one small step like save it in the correct folder or type their name, date, etc. This seems to really help them get started without arguing or avoiding. When I give them just a small task, it's as though the next thing I ask seems small enough to manage and then the next and the next. If I ask them to start from zero to make their own plan, it's as though they cannot figure out where to begin and all the resistance starts. Of course, this resistance is just self preservation. The learner cannot find where to start or is concerned they won’t know some step along the way. When I take over the start process, it all becomes more manageable.

That said, I do want students to learn how to approach more complicated planning and organizing. I won’t be around forever to get things started for them. The difference is that I will not use homework as the practice space. Homework is intertwined with too many feelings and expectations of success and failure to be effective in targeting the planning and organization practice. When I support learners to practice these executive functions, it is in low stakes areas such as household chores or small, fun projects. This way they get the practice but without the pressure of grades and teacher expectations.