Homework supports for children with learning disabilities

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Date: July-August 2014
From: Childhood Education(Vol. 90, Issue 4)
Publisher: Association for Childhood Education International
Document Type: Report
Length: 2,080 words
Lexile Measure: 1330L

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Research indicates that parental involvement in school experiences, specifically parents completing homework with their children, can promote academic achievement (Jeynes, 2007). However, parents often struggle finding effective ways to support learning, independence, and homework completion. Difficult tasks, confusing instructions, and attention problems can contribute to this struggle. It is important to consider evidence-based strategies to break through these barriers and improve academic outcomes, especially for children with disabilities. Research suggests that children of parents who receive education on creating effective home learning environments have better success in school (Molnar, 2013; Olmstead, 2013).

Children with learning disabilities (LD) are at particular risk for difficulties with homework. Many experience challenges with organization and maintaining attention as well as problems with completing assignments and bringing home the appropriate materials to complete homework assignments (Lerner & Kline, 2006; McNamara, 2007; Steele, 2008). This can cause frustration and an added challenge for parents trying to provide support during homework time.

SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

Parents of children with LD note that, in addition to problems with organization, attention, and homework completion (Lerner & Kline, 2006; McNamara, 2007; Steele, 2008), their children are more likely to procrastinate, need constant reminders, and require someone to be in the room with them in order to complete homework assignments (Polloway, Epstein, & Foley, 1992).

Homework performance of children with LD is influenced by not only child and teacher skills, but also parent skills (Bryan, Burnstein, & Bryan, 2001). Unfortunately, parental feelings of inadequacy may inhibit parent-school collaboration (Burke, 2013), and their doubts about their ability coupled with unpleasant homework interactions tend to have negative effects on family life (Jayanthi et al., 1995). Frustrated by their inability to help their children, some parents even consider homework to be an added burden (Baumgartner, Bryan, Donahue, & Nelson, 1993). Evidence-based instructional strategies and supports are available to improve parental involvement and enhance their ability to assist their children in homework completion. By providing effective training on evidence-based strategies, we can enhance academic achievement (Henderson, 1987; Tangri & Moles, 1987).

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN COMPLETING HOMEWORK IN THE HOME

The U.S. Department of Education (2013) offers the following general suggestions for parents who are working with their children to complete homework:

* Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework

* Make sure the materials your child needs are available

* Help your child with time management

* Be positive about homework

* When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers

* Play a role in homework, when asked by the teacher

* Stay informed

* Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration

* Use direct praise for doing the homework and even more for accomplishment

* Look over the homework when it is completed.

Evidence-Based Strategies for Improving Homework Completion Techniques including self-monitoring, scaffolding, and use of mnemonics offer opportunities for parents to support their children with LD.

Self-monitoring

Since students with disabilities often fail to complete and/or turn in homework due to poor organizational, planning, and / or engagement skills (Gureasko-Moore, DuPaul, &...

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