I recently read this article on homework help for children with learning disabilities. The article however does not only apply to LD students. It applies to any student whether they have an identified learning problem, ADD, ADHD, CAPD, Aspergers, or are falling through the cracks. There is a lot of common sense in the article and there may be a few ahah moments for you too.
From the Cherokee Sentinel Jan 14, 2009
Homework Help for Children With Learning Disabilities
Each student learns differently from the next. Some may not grasp concepts as easily as their classmates, or they may have different interpretations of material. This does not mean that they do not have the intelligence to succeed in school. Typically those classified as having a learning disability have an average or above intelligence but experience difficulty in processing information. Sometimes, however, learning disabilities go undetected and students suffer.
Learning disabilities are something for which parents, teachers and students must develop strategies. With plans of action, learning disabled (LD) students can go on to engage in successful school careers — including college or other secondary educations. However, without some special help, the results may be less optimistic. Consider the following statistics.
The National Institutes of Health say that 75 to 80 percent of special education students identified as LD have their basic deficits in language and reading. Thirty-five percent of students identified with learning disabilities drop out of high school. This is twice the rate of their non-disabled peers. A National Longitudinal Transition Study indicated that 62 percent of learning disabled students are typically unemployed one year after graduation.
Working with LD students should begin early in a school career as a collaborative effort between teachers and caregivers. One area in which parents can do much good is with homework help. The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) offers these guidelines for working with LD students on homework.
• Set up a homework schedule: Some children may need a little guidance deciding on when is the best time to engage in homework. If the task seems too overwhelming, it may simply be pushed aside. Keep to the schedule as closely as possible.
• Rank order assignments: Help children decide what assignments should be tackled first. Subjects for which there is more difficulty may be scheduled first because they will take the longest to get through.
• Leave children alone to complete their homework: Sitting next to your child 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.
• Check correct problems first: When your child brings you a paper to check, mention to him/her how well he/she did on the correct problems, spelling words, etc. For the ones that are incorrect say, “I bet if you go back and check these over you may get a different answer.”
• Don’t let homework linger all night: When an acceptable amount of time has passed, and if homework assignments aren’t complete, simply write a letter to your child’s teacher of the circumstances. Letting homework drag on will only reinforce a LD child’s feelings of inadequacy.
• Discuss homework problems before your child reads a chapter or a part of coursework: This way he or she knows what to expect and look for.
• Check problems in small batches: A LD child may benefit from immediate gratification, which can be achieved by checking homework in short intervals. Additionally, if the child is doing the assignment incorrectly, the error can be detected and explained, preventing your child from doing the entire assignment incorrectly.
* Consider placing 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.
NASET also says that parents should always be aware of symptoms indicating the possibility of more serious learning problems, which may turn up when students tackle homework. 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, etc. Consult with the teacher or a psychologist to come up with new strategies.
I hope you found this helpful. For more information on the underlying cause of learning problems, download the e-book Understanding LD and Dyslexia as my gift to you.
Bonnie Terry, M. ED., BCET