Managing homework when your children have special needs - Tips for Parents
Managing homework can be a nightmare for parents, particularly if their children have special needs. Homework can be a problem for many reasons including:
Children's inability to get homework assignments written
Children's exhaustion at the end of the school day.
Children's problems with handwriting.
Children not understanding instructions or taking them
Children forgetting to bring home the materials they need
Talk to your children's doctors about homework expectations
At the outset, discuss your children's homework with their medical providers. They should give you guidance about what to expect from your children based on their diagnoses. Ask them:
How much time your children should spend on homework?
How much help should you give them?
If they recommend any accommodations or adaptations to homework for your children?
You may need to ask for written reports to bring to your children's schools.
Find out if your school has a homework policy
Many schools and school districts have policies about the amount of homework teachers should give their students. The National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association both recommend that children spend ten minutes on homework per grade. So children in second grade should spend 20 minutes on homework and children in twelfth grade should spend 120 minutes.
Meet with your children's teachers
At the start of each term or school year meet with your children's teachers to decide:
The maximum amount of time your children should spend on homework.
What subject or subjects to prioritize.
What adaptations to homework can be made - for example, instead of having children write complete sentences, adapt homework so children only have to fill in the blanks?
If handwriting is an issue, can a parent or friend act as a scribe? Or, can the work be done on a computer?
If your children have difficulty writing down homework assignments, can they be emailed to you or can your children use dictaphones to record their homework?
Make sure your child has a quiet place where they can do their homework
If children become upset while doing homework, limit the amount of work they do or stop the homework for that night. Make sure you send a note to school explaining the situation to your child's teacher.
Ask teachers not to assign "busy work" if your children are struggling to get homework done.
Contact your children's schools to make sure your children have enough time at the end of the school day to organize their book bags with what they need for homework.
If there are ten questions on the same learning point, talk to the teacher about having your children do five. For example, if the homework assignment is to find the subject in ten sentences, can your children do five sentences instead?
If homework continues to be a problem, talk with your children's teachers about making additional accommodations.
Managing homework is an ongoing process, and you may need to meet with your children's teachers several times throughout the year.
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A version of this article was originally published by me on Examiner.com.