When children consistently have difficulty with homework it is important to communicate this concern with your child’s teacher. With the teacher’s help you may be able to identify the source of the problem and figure out the best way to address it.
According to The Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) (Helping your child with homework 1996), parents need to remember several things.
Communicate early on when homework issues arise. The earlier the problem is addressed the more likely it is you will be able to find solutions that work. The rest of the school year can be easier for you and your child. (For help knowing how to communicate with your child’s teacher see Forming a Parent-Teacher Partnership to Help a Struggling Child)
Be sure to contact your child’s teacher to work out the problem rather than going directly to the principal or other supervisor. The teacher is the one who works directly with your child and he or she is in the best position to help.
Even though these meetings can be uncomfortable, it is best to approach them with a positive attitude while believing the problems can be solved by working together.
Some possible solutions might include the following.
- Offering options for how to complete the homework. Many creative children can demonstrate their knowledge through posters, brochures, or presentation software and offering these as a choice when appropriate can help resolve at least some of the issues.
- Doing a reduced number of problems. If a child works very slowly even while paying attention to the task at hand, he may benefit from doing fewer problems that still cover the concepts.
- Allowing the child to audio record their responses to questions. Some language learning disabled children know the material, but cannot get their answers onto the page. If allowed to record their answers, they may be able to demonstrate mastery, and they can do the work themselves. The Livescribe Smartpen may be a possible technological solution for recording. The homework could be recorded along with abbreviated answers. Then, the recording and written notes could be saved and given to the teacher to view and hear on their own computer. (To understand how the Smartpen works go to the Livescribe website to watch a video.)
- If the problems are the result of absences, your child’s teacher may be able to set up a schedule that allows the work to be made up within a reasonable amount of time.
There are many things that can cause children difficulty when doing homework. The most important thing to remember is to not give up. Homework is important. To understand why teachers give homework, read How Can Parents Help With Homework?