When my teenager suffered a concussion two years ago, one of the side affects that appeared was a drop in class grades. Up until the concussion, my teen was a smart student who didn’t have to study much to earn an “A” in the classroom. After the concussion, her grades dropped down to “Cs” and “Ds”.
A drop in grades is common in tweens and teens following a concussion, with each child affected in different ways. In my teen’s situation, her short-term memory was affected and she could no longer process new information or concentrate on what she was reading. She even had problems stringing together a cohesive sentence.
Fortunately for her, health professionals and teachers are finally beginning to understand just how serious a concussion can be and how it affects school performance. Because of this, the Elks Rehab and her physician were quick to implement an accommodation plan for her school which included easing back on homework, allowing a quiet place to take tests, and rest breaks during the day.
My husband and I were also part of the rehab process. It was up to us to help her manage her time after school and how she did her homework. Here are a few of the strategies we used to help her manage homework during her recovery.
Quiet work area
Children recovering from a concussion can usually concentrate on only one thing at a time which is why distracting noises like radios, phones, conversations and TVs will affect homework. We set up a study desk for our teen in the quietest room in the house and made a point of buttoning up the pets and turning off all the electronics so she wouldn’t be interrupted by noise.
Brains need rest following a concussion, and school accommodation plans will usually include 10-15 minute rest breaks every two hours. We made sure that our teen also took 10 -15 minute rest breaks after every hour of homework. And by rest, we mean the laying-down-with-eyes-closed type of rest which is critical in letting the brain recover.
A school accommodation plan usually includes extra time to complete an assignment or take a test. Since it would take our teen longer to do her homework, we gave her a pass on the chores for several months so as to free up the extra time she needed.
Assisted where possible
While it’s true that children should do their own homework, a tween or a teen with a concussion will need a little help from Mom and Dad until the brain is thinking clearly again. For the first few months following the concussion, I edited my teen’s assignments, checked for errors, and helped her work through problems she had problems understanding. Knowing she had a study partner to double check her homework freed her from anxiety which is also important when recovering from a concussion.
Almost all of us have had some kind of head injury in our lives and know what it’s like to be a bit discombobulated for several days. A teen with a serious head injury will feel this way for months (or even a year or two) which is why it’s important to have a accommodation plan in place during the school day and the help of parents when it comes to managing homework in the evening.
More by this contributor:
How to help your teen study for final exams
Helping your teen cope with depression following a concussion
Why you should file an accident report for a school injury