Sandy Gauvin

Article Summary:

Ten tips to support and improve learning disabled students' efforts to understand and complete homework assignments.

Teaching a Student with a Learning Disability

As a teacher of students with learning disabilities, I found that one of the most difficult things for many of my students was understanding and completing homework assignments.

Here are 10 tips to help students be successful in completing their homework for you:

1) Make sure your students and their parents understand the homework policy.

2) Assign work that the students can do. If your student has a learning disability in written language, chances are you won't get the 10-page written report you assigned. Perhaps he could tape the information or present it in a different way, such as through the use of pictures or a skit.

3) Make sure the student understands the assignment and has written it down correctly. That may mean you'll have to spend a little extra time with the student to show him examples of what you want and to answer any questions he might have. Often, this involves an element of trust, especially as the child gets older. He needs to be able to go to you and know that he will get help, not rejection.

4) Don't overload the student with homework. Remember, it takes these students longer to complete the assignment in the first place. So, it might be a good idea to cut the number of multiplication problems you assign him in half. Or, perhaps you would reduce the amount of reading you want him to do in his reading book for the night.

5) Relate new learning and homework with real life. If the child understands how she can use this information in her life, it means more to her and she will learn it much more easily.

6) Have the student begin the homework in class so you can check to see if he is doing it correctly before he goes home.

7) Remind the student of due dates periodically. They may have it written down, but many students with learning disabilities have trouble with organization and may not have it as a current assignment.

8) Allow students to work together on homework. This can help the child get reinforcement of the information from his peers, and it can also help promote social skills.

9) Establish a routine at the beginning of the year about homework assignments. Be consistent and fair about reinforcing that routine.

10) Allow the student to tell you at the beginning of class time if he was not able to complete his assignment. There are valid reasons for not completing an assignment. Perhaps the student just needs more reinforcement in that skill.

Ensuring that the student can understand and complete assignments goes a long way toward boosting his self-esteem.
He feels good because:

  1. he was capable of completing the assignment, as did the other kids,
  2. he knows he has pleased the teacher,
  3. he has pleased himself, and
  4. he has that much more information in his brain.
Increased self-esteem will encourage him to take risks with searching for new answers and contributing to class discussion. And that will earn him more respect from his peers, as well as from himself. He will be a happy, successful student.

Sandy Gauvin is a retired educator who has seen learning disabilities from many perspectives - as the parent of a daughter with learning disabilities, as the teacher of children with learning disabilities, and as an advocate for others who have diagnosed and unrecognized learning disabilities. Sandy shares her wisdom and her resources at www.LDPerspectives.com.

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