Homework Tips For Special Needs Kids

A topic that’s come up recently is homework.

This is an ongoing topic. We deal with it every year! Homework presents itself with a degree of stress because it has a deadline, it has to be done at home after school, and it interferes with other activities.

We have a few recommendations for handling homework:

1. Make it predictable.

Make sure the way you structure the homework is somewhat predictable for your kids. For instance, when homework comes home review it with them, decide where it’s going to occur and what time it’s going to occur.

2. Build in rest breaks.

Don’t forget to build in rest breaks. Many of us just want our kids to sit down and do a straight 30 minutes of work to get the homework done. If you start to see that the child is losing interest, they’re starting to walk away, they’re looking for bathroom breaks, they’re playing with their paper and pencil—that’s usually an indication that they need a movement break. They can run, they can wheelbarrow walk, they can jump on a mini-trampoline—whatever you think would work, do it. If you don’t know what to do, ask your therapist. They’ll give you many ideas for activities you can do! But you really want to break that work up into small segments that are more attainable, rather than to push through something that might be too big. If you push through, you will probably see breakdowns in the quality of the work done.

3. Break up large assignments.

If the assignment is large, break it up over multiple sessions instead of waiting until the last couple of days and pushing it in. Trying to do a big assignment quickly is going to push those anxiety levels up, and the behavior will deteriorate. You’re going to start seeing meltdowns and lack of participation, and things are going to go backward for you. So take those large assignments and break them down.

If you’re going to have homework on the weekend, we recommend the same methods. Don’t place a huge block of time. Carve the homework up into two separate times, and remember, build those rest breaks in. And build in fun activities, too! Maybe they can work towards a fun break activity, maybe a game! Build that reinforcement in there so that homework becomes something that’s manageable rather than a fight all the time.

4. Plan ahead.

Look at what the teacher has planned for the month, so you know what’s going to come in. That way you won’t schedule a bunch of activities when you know there’s going to be high demand. When we’re talking about little kids, we’re talking about smaller assignments. But when we’re talking about junior high and high schoolers, there are a lot of long-term projects that go on. Make sure you build out a schedule going out many months, if possible. When projects are going on you can make sure to not build any trips, extra activities or days off into that time.

5. Stick to a schedule.

It’s helpful to have a schedule when our kids are in school: This is the time you wake up, this is when you do your after-school activities, this is the time you go to bed, this is the time you do homework.

6. Bring your homework to therapy.

We have many parents who bring the homework in here, to therapy, for us to work on or get it started with them. Sometimes we’ll work on flash cards, sometimes we’ll work on sentences or things like that. We don’t recommend bringing all the homework in but certainly talk to your therapist about strategies. You can also have your therapist help you set up a strategy that will work best for your child’s learning style.

7. Look for modifications.

Many of our kids are on 504s or IEPs. For these kids, it’s important to work on accommodations that are best for that student. One accommodation might be reduced homework. Another might be modifications that allow the testing and assignments to be presented in a different format that’s more attainable for your kiddo. You can go through those suggestions at your ARD meeting or your PARD meeting for your 504 or your IEP.

We hope this gives you some ideas to help with homework. Homework is an inevitable thing. We’ll certainly be talking about it again! We’ll get more in-depth later, but these are just some ideas to help you get started on managing the homework.

Happy Homework!

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