Does he need help with homework?

Identifying homework support isn’t always as easy as calling a math or English tutor.  Sometimes finding the right type of homework support is difficult because what is needed is not just help in one subject, but support for underlying weaknesses, that impact academic learning. 

In order to get the right kind of help with homework, it is important to understand that you, the parent, are your child’s greatest resource. You may not teach academics, but you facilitate, create, and support the academic environment. Your knowledge and involvement is critical when trying to identify the right type of homework support to address the problems. Speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, counselors, learning resource teachers, special education teachers, educational therapist, and classroom teachers are all valuable team members with specialized skills and experiences, but your observations provide insight into your child’s behavior.   Write down what you observe during homework time. Reach out to your child’s teacher to discuss your observations. Here are strategies on how to effectively talk to your child’s teacher. 

Make Observations: What exactly is happening during homework time? 

Questions to ask yourself when observing homework.

  • Does your child have difficulty formulating ideas, organizing their thoughts or with the physical act of writing?
  • Are they struggling with following written or oral directions?
  • Are they unable to comprehend what they have read?  Having difficulty understanding vocabulary?
  •  Does your child have difficulty finding a place to do their homework? 
  • Does your child have trouble starting their working or do they get overwhelmed during their work?
  • Do they ask for help with their homework? or just get distracted? 
  • Are they taking too long to get their homework done or is their homework incomplete when they say they are done?  
  • Can they explain their homework? 
  • If they tell you orally the answers to homework tasks are they able to then go and complete their written homework quickly?  
  • Are they distracted by noise in the environment?
  • Do they want to listen to music or watch television and do homework at the same time?
  • Is it easier for them to work on homework as soon as they get home from school or do they do better if they work on it later after dinner?  
  • Is homework easier on days that they have a physical activity?
  • Do they feel they have the skills to finish their homework?   

Creating a good homework environment while making your observations allows you to experiment with factors and document change. Each child is different. One might need noise in order to accomplish their work others are distracted by noise. Some kids have difficulty with the process of learning while other others have problems getting their ideas down on paper.  If after observing and making adjustments at home homework is still a challenge it is time to request an academic assessment at your local public school or find a private psychologist to perform neuropsychological testing.

Neuropsychological testing attempts to identify the underlying weaknesses and causes of learning problems using a variety of tools and measures, but it is only a snapshot of someone’s ability at any given time.  School academic assessments, on the other hand, have some elements of the neuropsychological evaluation, but sometimes not enough to uncover the underlying cause of the problem.  It evaluates in terms of the skills need to be successful academically. What’s the difference? A neuropsychological evaluation will help you understand not only academic performance but how your child processes information. An academic assessment is more concerned with evaluating whether the child has the skills in a structured environment to do academic tasks. The difference is life. In life, tasks are not structured. We have to respond and react to what happens around us gathering information through all our sense and responding instantaneously.  In the typical classroom, students have structured tasks they are expected to respond to in a particular way. Sometimes students are very good at responding to structured tasks, but can not respond well to social interactions or unstructured tasks,  high functioning autism students fall into this category. There are other students that as long as the tasks are unstructured they do well. As soon as, they have to respond in a certain way they are unable to give the correct answer.  We see this with language disabled and ADHD students. They have learned strategies to navigate unstructured and high-interest tasks, but are challenged when required to respond in a specific way because their strategies no longer work.  

 Whether your child is in a private school or public school they are eligible for an academic assessment at their local public school; however, if the results are unclear or you have the resources for a full neuropsychological evaluation you will understand your child to a greater degree. In addition, the evaluation will make suggestions regarding support services that are beneficial for your student. Once you receive the assessment results matching lagging skills to the right homework support is much easier. 







What are some of your homework struggles? Successes? What strategies have your child’s teacher suggested that worked (or didn’t)? Comment below!