Behavioral Strategies for Home Based Learning

Below are some strategies to use with students at home when they are struggling to complete the assigned tasks from their teachers.


Doing school work at home can be a difficult concept for our students to understand, especially our young learners. While you are attempting to keep a routine and have them complete the school work that is available to them I wanted to offer some suggestions if they start to have some/any behavior difficulty due to the task demands, or you just want to switch up the routine a little bit:

  • Reduced Demand/Taking Breaks

    • If a student is struggling to complete an entire assignment in one sitting, break up the work into smaller achievable tasks, such as breaking up a 10 question assignment into two 5 question assignments with either a break in between or a different assignment/topic in between.  

    • Breaks should be no more than 2-3 minutes within a single assignment, prior to getting back on task.

    • If a student has difficulty getting back on track following a short break with a highly preferred item, refrain from earning that highly preferred item until all work is completed for that assignment or that day. Provide a less preferred item/activity that is not as likely to result in difficult behaviors when removed.

    • When initially starting with home based learning assignments, keep the overall demands brief and achievable to promote success right away. Once the student is able to complete easy demands, you can then begin to introduce more difficult tasks. 

  • Visual Supports

    • Providing students with written/picture schedules helps to ease anxiety and provide structure to their day. 

    • Schedules could simply be used during the morning/academic routine if this is when difficult behaviors are more likely to occur or throughout the day if necessary.

  • Contingency Plan or Token Economy

    • Students can earn tokens/points for engaging in appropriate behavior/work completion. Rewards can consist of any activity or item that your child enjoys. Some students may want to work for time doing yard work or vacuuming, while others may choose to earn time playing a video game or 1:1 virtual chat with a teacher. 

    • Regardless of how it’s implemented, the main idea is that in order to access A (the chosen reward) he or she must first do B (complete work/have expected behaviors, etc). 

    • Using “First-Then” language is helpful for these scenarios. “First you need to complete your math worksheet, then you can go out back to play”

    • Remain firm and follow through with the expectation.

  • Providing Choices: Whenever possible, allow your child to choose the assignment or activity that he or she wants to work on, choose the location where they are working, choose the reward they are working to earn, etc. 


As always, please free to reach out to me via email at with any questions on how to possibly implement strategies and interventions at home, or even if you simply want to chat and discuss the difficulties you may be encountering, I am available! 

Below I included some additional links to resources that may be helpful as we navigate our way through this:

Surviving the COVID 19 Pandemic with Children 

School Closure Visual Toolkit


Coronavirus Social Narrative


ABA Basics for Managing Behaviors at Home


First-Then Visual


Parent Availability Visual


Create Your Own Daily Schedule


Engineering Activities for Kids at Home


Behavior Strategies for Getting Us Through and Keeping Us Sane