Do You Have Homework?
Homework! Is it a dreaded word in your home? It can be if your child has a unique learning style and needs extra help to stay on task. Having been in school all day, working hard in academics and social skills, and then coming home and tackling 2-4 hours of homework can be exhausting. According to research at the University of Washington, kids with learning differences, specifically dyslexia, have to work five times harder when performing the same language tasks as non-dyslexic kids. Children who have to labor so hard to focus can become stressed out! They really do need time to unwind, be creative, and just have fun. So when it comes to homework, what is the answer?
COMMUNICATION: If we suspect or know our child has a unique learning style, like dyslexia or ADD, we need to communicate this information to teachers and other professionals involved so everyone can work as a team. Assignments need to be communicated so a child has a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished. Sometimes children avoid doing their assignments at school because the directions are not clear to them. This is easy to remedy by asking the teacher to please go over the directions one-on-one with your child. An assignment notebook can be checked and initialed daily at school and home to start a note exchange between teachers and parents. Becoming a team and working together is key.
If the homework load becomes too much, and your child cannot finish night after night, please talk to the teacher. Proper amounts of sleep are essential for successful learning the next day. Never punish a child by taking away the extracurricular, for this is where they may feel their greatest accomplishment. Instead, allow them to select one or two extra activities and work homework in and around those hours.
LET’S TALK LOCATION: Keep a special area in your home designed for homework to help establish a routine. Create a pleasant atmosphere at all times and be empathetic to your child’s needs. Experiment with music, for some kids actually study better with music playing quietly in the background. The location is best if it’s free from distractions like television or conversation.
Set up an area that has a nice flat top with good lighting. Try to keep the area free of clutter. Make sure there are plenty of pens, pencils, paper, colored markers, and other tools a child might need. Collect the school supplies in a basket to keep it handy. A selection of resource books such as a dictionary, encyclopedias and math help books can be utilized. Keep the computer on in case research needs to be done. Parents try to not do the homework, but be available to clarify directions and answer questions. Remember independence is the goal.
GOAL SETTING: Have a large calendar in the homework area to write goals. It is important to check assignments daily. It is also essential to think ahead, for instance, if there is a quiz, test, paper, or project due soon, add them to the goals for the week or month. If there is a gymnastics meet on Thursday evening and a quiz on Friday, study time needs to take place before Thursday. The homework time becomes weaved into the week ahead.
• Complete the most difficult assignments first
• Learn memory techniques (Mega Memory)
• Use “Books on Tape”
• Use educational software that teaches specific concepts
• Use index cards for handy notes
• Color code and use keywords
• Read information, write it down, read it out loud, take a break, come back and review
• Drink plenty of water and have apples and fresh fruit on hand to eat during the homework session. They’re filled with nutrition and create energy and joy.
• Reward your child for hard work
CONCLUSION: As parents we want everything to go well for our children and getting through homework is very important. It is essential we notice if basic skills are missing. If we suspect our child is lacking a skill, for example, writing complete and coherent paragraphs, talk to the teacher, become proactive and teach your child yourself, or hire a tutor. If your child is constantly struggling don’t hesitate to have them tested for a unique learning style. Once we know, it takes away some of the anxiety behind the struggle. We all need to work together to give children the feeling of success and homework is just one aspect of helping them now and for their future schooling.