By Amanda Morin
For teens with learning and attention issues, homework can be a challenge. For their parents, battles over homework can seem almost as challenging. Here’s how to avoid those homework fights and make the process easier for everyone.
Agreeing on a homework contract can ease the tensions that lead to homework battles. A contract can outline a clear set of rules for both of you, based on what you need from each other.
If your child waits until the last minute to ask for materials he needs for a project, the contract can specify that he must give you three days’ notice. If you don’t usually check homework until morning, the contract can say you have to review it the night before.
Face-to-face isn’t the only way to communicate with your child. If he has an email account, ask him to email you his assignments, requests for materials or supplies, and questions. That way you’ll be prepared to help when you’re both back home.
Email is also a good way to reach your child’s teachers if you have questions or concerns. Your child can send himself completed homework, too. That way if he leaves his assignments at home, he can access them from school. (It also prepares teens for college, where professors will want papers to be emailed and online discussions are common.)
Some teens work better with friends. They may find it easier to understand something when a “study buddy” explains it. Studying with a pal can also provide some social skills practice if that’s an issue for your teen.
Of course, your child may tend to goof off with some of his buds. And he may not have friends in all of his classes. In those cases, ask his school if they have a homework club or an afterschool study space.
Sometimes kids need a little more help than a study buddy can provide. And if you and your child battle over homework, it may be a good idea to enlist someone else to work on his studies with him.
One option is to get him a tutor. You can hire a tutor or your child may even qualify for free tutoring services. You might also consider online tutoring or ask his school about peer tutoring programs. It makes sense to check in with teachers, too. Some teachers will provide a study space during, before or after school and may offer extra help.
Emails, social media and cell phone calls are out. But some technology can help your child with his homework. Some kids play music to reduce other distracting sounds. Others find typing easier than writing and may use graphic organizer software to keep
track of their thoughts. Many teachers also require technology to complete homework, even if only to type up assignments.
For kids who have trouble with time management, cell phone alarms and timers may be helpful. Electronic planners can let them stay on top of assignments more easily. There are also apps to aid with writing and apps to help with math. Check out Tech Finder for ideas.
In middle school, teachers expect your child to be a more independent learner. He’ll have more homework to keep track of, organize and complete. Here’s how to avoid the battles that can come along with it.
Studying can be extra challenging for grade-schoolers with dyslexia. But grade school is when they need to build strong study skills and habits before the stakes get higher in middle school. These tips can help make the process easier.
Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.
Jenn Osen-Foss, M.A.T., is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions and co-planning.
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