Jan 24, 2009

Helping Your LD Child Conquer Homework

If your LD child is anything like mine, he is easily frustrated when doing homework. The sheer amount of homework intimidates him from the very beginning. He has assignments to complete in two, three and sometimes four subjects in one night. Since his ADHD and LD prevent him from being able to prioritize and plan ahead, he has no idea where to even begin. This is where I come in.

While I want him to learn independence and self reliance, I also do not want him to flounder and fail because he simply cannot accurately determine which assignments to complete when. Consider this...

The National Institute of Health say that 75% to 80% of special education students identified as LD have their basic deficits in language and reading. Thirty-five percent of students identified with learning disabilities drop out of high school. This is twice the rate of their non-disabled peers. A National Longitudinal Transition Study indicated that 62% of learning disabled students are typically unemployed one year after graduation.

My LD son is already in the 75% - 80% of LD students whose deficits are in language and reading. Do I really want him to join the ranks of the high school drop outs and unemployed too? I think not! That's why it is so important that we help our LD students now, while they are in elementary and middle school.

It is up to us to help them not get frustrated and aggravated with school, especially when it comes to homework. Homework is a necessary evil that they will encounter their entire school careers so we needs to encourage them and help them get through it when necessary. Hopefully, our help will deter them from giving up and giving in.

So, what do I do to help my son in his daily homework struggles? I'm so glad you asked. Here are a few tried and true tips that work in my house:

  1. Have a set time to do homework. My son gets 30 - 45 minutes every day to unwind after school. During this time he can do whatever he'd like, except leave the house. This helps him relax and de-stress from the school day.

  2. Create a homework toolbox. Ours is actually a divided tub that holds everything he could possibly need to successfully complete his homework: sharpened pencils, erasers, markers, pens, glue stick, scissors, ruler and calculator and pencil sharpener. We store it in the same place so he always knows right where to find it.
  3. Be lenient when it comes to where homework is to be completed. Some children like the kitchen table and like being in the center of everything. My son prefers his room however. He likes the quiet that the seclusion provides. He does have to leave his door partly open though so I can make frequent checks as I pass by (just to make sure he isn't goofing off).

  4. Allow your child to listen to music if that helps. Some children require complete silence in order to concentrate and think. Others like to have something to listen to while they work, provided it isn't too distracting.

  5. Help your child establish what needs to be done and when. We use a calendar for this purpose. By seeing what is due when, my son can visualize when he needs to begin working on a project. He can also see how long he has to complete it.

  6. Always go over your child's homework once completed. This will assure him that you care and that he is going to have to be accountable for his work. However, always comment of the correct work before pointing out the items he made a mistake on. This will help encourage him and help build his confidence.

  7. Help your child learn study skills. My son is in the fifth grade and is just now getting the hang of studying for a test. Before, he had no clue how to do this. We have successfully used flashed cards in the past as a form of studying. I let him make them which also helps him remember what he's written. We have also recorded test information onto a tape/CD so he can listen to it. This has helped him as well.

  8. Perhaps most importantly, do not under any circumstances do your child's homework for him. This will only sabotage him. It is okay to help and offer suggestions, but not to do the actual work. After all, he is the one that is supposed to be learning... not you!

While we, as parents, could not control the fact that our children are LD. We can help insure that they do not become another statistic. With our love, assistance and encouragement we can help make sure that they rise above their LD. It all starts with helping them over the hurdle of homework. Once they conquer that, they'll be better prepared for the next.


  1. My son is in first grade and they have homework each night, Mon-Fri. Once he began ADHD meds I thought it was best to do homework right away after school before meds wore off. That did not work -- he became very angry (part was that it was the wrong meds)! So I set a time 1 hour after getting home from school for homework. He has free time until then. It has helped greatly. But any task with a lot of writing on a page overwhelms and frustrates him (now that his focus is improved, writing is his main struggle).

    I love the idea for the "homework toolbox!" We'll have to implement that.

  2. I just found your blog and it's really helpful, particularly this homework post. It's a pretty big issue. My daughter was just diagnosed ADHD-Combined Type in the last month, so we're on a new journey here. Thanks for sharing your homework help!


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