Homework: 7 Ways to Help Kids With Disabilities Overcome Schoolwork Struggles


Homework—Helping children cope with different learning styles is no easy task. For the last few years, one of my sons has struggled with schoolwork. I have noticed that even though he is a really bright child and seems to understand the material that is being taught, he just can't seem to get that information from his brain to his paper. This results in missed assignments, accompanying due dates, and lower grades.


When I first noticed this in grade school, I had my child tested by our family doctor thinking he might have ADD or ADHD. When the tests came back as inconclusive, I then thought he might be dyslexic. That wasn't the case either. I turned to the school professionals to see if there were any classes or programs that could help him be more successful in school. I am so thankful to Miss Catbagan, an incredible teacher in 4th grade, who recognized that my son is actually smart. He just learns differently.

As my son has moved into middle school, and the work load has increased, he has become overwhelmed again wtih school work. He was tested to see if he had a learning disability. The results? He was on track for his grade level, with a slightly lower understanding in language arts. I feel like my son is continually slipping through the cracks in the school setting.  Without a firm diagnosis, he isn't eligible for extra help in resource. In the meantime, every evening doing homework with him is a constant struggle and source of frustration for everyone.

How to Help Children With Learning Disabilities Succeed in Homework

If you are experiencing similar struggles with one or more of your children, here are 7 tips to helping them have a successful homework experience:

  1. Establish a daily routine. Children need to know what is going to happen next. Scheduling a time for homework, snack, dinner and bedtime can be very beneficial.
  2. Give clear directives. When you are giving instructions, keep them short, clear and to the point. Have your child repeat the instructions back to you so you know he understands. This is a hard one for me. I have a million things going through my mind at once, and when I rattle them off to my son, I guess I shouldn't be surprised when he can't make any sense of it.
  3. Turn off any ouside media during homework time. It is important that everyone in your family turns off the TV, video games, ipods, and cell phones during this study time. If you r child knows other more attractive things are going on in the other room, he will be distrated and less likely to work. He might also feel left out.
  4. Take occasional time outs. Break up homework into bite-size pieces. This way your child will not be overwhelmed with all of the work at once. Kids will also be less likely sneak off when you are not looking. I will walk out of the room for a minute and come back to find that my son is nowhere to be found. He has escaped outside or to a room filled with video games that are much more entertaining to him than his homework.
  5. Give positive affirmation. Make sure you are communicating with your child positively. "That assignment is really coming along or look how far you have come with that promlem."
  6. Make simple charts and checklists. Breaking things down into step-by-step instructions can be helpful. Write what needs to be accomplished plus its due date. Make sure the planner or chart the child is using meets his/her particular needs. Find what works with your child. Creatingyour own schedule or to-do list in an iPad might be easier fo ryour child to stay organized, especially if he is computer oriented. There are lot of new apps that make scheduling easy.
  7. Steer clear of overwhelming your child with choices. Simply ask "Do you want to do math or spelling right now?"

Helping children with learning disabilies can be very challenging. One of my biggest fears is that I am not doing everything to help my child be successful...not only in school, but in life.

Not all children learn the same. They are unique and different for a reason. I am learning to embrace the differences and accept the challenges in helping him succeed.

I love my son and want to help him be successful in life. My motivation for helping him comes from the joy and confidence he has shown in other areas of his life. His artwork, sports, and scouting achievements show me that he is creative, smart, and capable. I would like to help him see that he can be just as successful in his schoolwork.

What challenges have you overcome with learning disabilities personally or with your children? What tips do you recommend to help your child be successful in school?

Photos courtesy of Flickr.

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