How Parents Help with Homework
You will find that one of the most difficult periods of time for parents working with their children with LD comes at homework time. This period of time can be very stressful and problematic for both children and their parents if it is not handled properly. Parents need direction. Offering them concrete, practical things to do for the homework period will be appreciated. Pierangelo (2004) suggests several things that parents can do to facilitate homework with children with learning disabilities.
- Set up a homework schedule. For some children, the responsibility of deciding when to sit down and do homework may be too difficult. Children may decide to do their homework after school or after dinner. This is a personal choice and has to do with learning style. However, once the time is determined, the schedule should be adhered to as closely as possible.
- Rank order assignments. For some children, the decision as to what to do first becomes a major chore. They may dwell over this choice for a long period of time because everything takes on the same level of importance. Rank ordering assignments means that the parent determines the order in which the assignments are completed.
- Do not to sit next to your child while he or she does homework. Employing this technique may create learned helplessness because the same "assistance" is not imitated in the classroom. Parents serve their children better by acting as a resource person to whom the child may come with a problem. After the problem is solved or question answered, the child should return to his work area without the parent.
- Check correct problems first. When the child brings the parent a paper to check, have the parent mention how well she did on the correct problems, spelling words, and so on. For the ones that are incorrect say, I bet if you go back and check these over you may get a different answer.
- Never let homework drag on all night. The only thing accomplished by allowing a child to linger on his homework hour after hour with very little performance is increased feelings of inadequacy. If this occurs, end the work period after a reasonable period of time and write the teacher a note explaining the circumstances.
- Discuss homework questions before your child reads the chapter. Suggest that the parent discuss the questions to be answered before the child reads the chapter. In this way the child will know what important information to look for while reading.
- Check small groups of problems at a time. Many children can benefit from immediate gratification. Suggest to the parents that they have the child do five problems and then come to check them. This way, if she is doing the assignment incorrectly, the error can be detected and explained, preventing her child from doing the entire assignment incorrectly.
- Place textbook chapters on tape. Research indicates that the more sensory input children receive, the greater the chance the information will be retained. For instance, parents can place science or social studies chapters on tape so that the child can listen while reading along.
- Be aware of negative nonverbal messages during homework. Many messages, especially negative ones, can be communicated easily without your awareness (for example, deep sighs, raised eyebrows, inattentiveness). If children are sensitive, they will pick up these messages, which only adds to their tension.
- Avoid finishing assignments for your child. Children tend to feel inadequate when a parent finishes their homework. If children cannot complete an assignment and they have honestly tried, write the teacher a note explaining the circumstances.
- Be aware of possible signs of more serious learning problems. Parents should always be aware of symptoms indicating the possibility of more serious learning problems. Many of these may show up during homework. If these symptoms present a pattern, contact the psychologist or resource room teacher for further assistance. Such symptoms may include constant avoidance of homework, forgetting to bring home assignments, taking hours to do homework, procrastination of class work, low frustration tolerance, labored writing, poor spelling, and so on.
- Check homework assignments at the end of the night. This will reduce the child's concerns over the thought of bringing incorrect homework to school. This also offers children a feeling of accomplishment, a source of positive attention, and a sense of security that the work is completed.
© ______ 2006, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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