Many parents find that they have problems with their children over homework at one time or another. For parents of children with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, homework can become a nightmare, as I know full well from personal experience!! As a parent of a dyslexic child you will have to spend a lot more time helping them to complete homework.
Compared to countries such as the UK, children seem to be given an awful lot of homework in Turkey. I think, if a child has already spent 7+ hours at school they need to be allowed to rest and unwind in the evenings rather than spend the whole evening on homework!!
In the US recommendations concerning the amount of homework are as follows:
For kindergarten through 2nd grade 10 to 20 minutes of homework in a school day.
In 3rd through 6th grade 30 to 60 minutes in a school day.
In 7th through 9th grades, students can benefit from spending more time on homework and the amount may vary.
(The general "rule" is ten minutes for each grade the child is in)
Quality rather than quantity is important – for example if the child has to answer 50 math questions and doesn’t understand them then this is a fruitless exercise. All it does is put stress on the child and parent too fulfill an impossible task .It is better to answer half the questions and make sure your child has fully grasped the concepts involved. In this case THE CHILD WILL HAVE LEARNT SOMETHING AND THE HOMEWORK WILL BE WORTHWHILE!!
COMMON PROBLEMS DYSLEXIC CHILDREN HAVE WITH HOMEWORK:
For a child who is dyslexic,they will take a lot longer time to do the same homework as a non-dyslexic pupil !! Remember their brain has to work five times harder!!
They are often easily distracted and don’t focus on the task in hand.
They may experience organizational problems – forgetting the right books which they need for the homework.
They may have problems recording the homework tasks in the first place.
Some Hints for Parents :
If you child forgets his books you may wish to purchase extra copies of the important ones so you can keep spare copies at home.
If your child has a problem taking down the homework assignments see if you can arrange for another child, who is quicker at writing, to copy it down for him/ her . The other child could use carbon paper when they made a note of the homework and give the extra copy to your child.Of course, this requires the co-operation of the teacher!!
Make a photocopied table of the list of all the books your child uses and leave a column for your child to just write in the page nos they have to do. This will help them record the homework more quickly.
Make sure you have the telephone of a friend in the class – so you can check on homework – if all else fails !!
Establishing a Routine :Your child may be very tired after school - they have had to work harder than their friends because of their dyslexia. They will need a break before starting homework.
Make an agreement with your child over a regular time when homework will be started.
Decide on a place to carry out homework.It should be a quiet place with few distractions – no tv etc.
In addition to homework allocated by the teacher ,daily reading is essential, as lots of practice is required for dyslexic children to develop their literacy skills.They should spend at least about 10 minutes on both silent reading and reading out-loud. You also need to try to go over any new concepts learnt at school , (if not already covered in the homework given by school.)
Break homework tasks into manageable parts.
Prioritize: some students perform better doing the harder tasks first; other students perform better starting with simpler tasks.
First of all check your child understands what to do.You could help by reading the instructions aloud. If necessary, practise the first example or two with them.Help your child to think of ideas for writing tasks and projects before they start work. If necessary, go over vocabulary that they may need.
When necessary and appropriate, act as a scribe ( writer ) for your child so that they can get their ideas on paper more accurately. Alternatively you could get them to record their thoughts/ ideas electronically ie on an ıpod or mobile telephone and then afterwards they can listen again to the recording and write down their ideas more easily.
They could use a computer to type their assignment rather than handwriting homework – if you can get the teachers agreement!!
Give constant breaks between tasks. Some children experience tiredness when they are writing. One idea would be to get your child to exercise and stretch their fingers for a few minutes before and during the task.
Teach your child to do their work on the computer. Show them how to use a spell checker and encourage them to learn touch typing skills .This will be of great use to them as they get older.
Help your child to learn to check and monitor their own work .
For example, a simple checklist like COPS can be helpful when editing work:
COPS stands for :
C = Capitals.
O = overall appearance.
P = punctuation.
S = spelling.
Dyslexic children often get demoralized correcting lots of mistakes – so you may wish to just concentrate on correcting one type of mistake eg capital letters , rather than looking at everything.Another day you can target something else.Try to get the child to identify errors themselves rather than you telling them straightaway and don't forget to praise them if they find them !!
If they are slow to complete work, encourage them to use a timer and see how much work they can complete in an alloted time. Some children may benefit from a reward system .For example ,if they manage to achieve a certain goal when doing their homework they will be given a reward, such as being able to stay up later in the evening,being able to go to the park etc. This may help to keep children focused.
Monitor how much time they spend on homework.You will need to set a time limit on how much time they do each night . If all the homework isn’t completed then you could write a note for the teacher ( or write a note in the margin of their book) explaining how much time your child has spent on a particular task. Remember your child does need to rest !!
Give your child lots of praise and encouragement while he or she is working.
If you get into fights with your son / daughter over homework talk to your child and explain your feelings and frustrations.Often a hug or a kiss goes a long way to resolve tensions.
If you are finding you are having a lot of battles over homework one option to consider is hiring a private teacher to assist your child with their homework. Sometimes children work better with someone else.Of course you will have to think of the financial aspect.Also make sure they know something about working with dyslexic children!!
In countries like the UK, accommodations are made by schools for dyslexic children concerning homework :
Reducing homework amount.
Allowing the use of assistive technology such as a calculator, spell checker, etc.
Homework is determined by time not quantity.
Unfortunately many teachers in Turkey will not make any changes for dyslexic children and still expect them to do the same homework as their classmates !!
See this useful article from Learning Disabilites online ' Being an efficient homework helper '
For a 15 minute video about helping with homework ( from dystalk )