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Homework Help for Kids with LD and ADHD
Q: Is there any online source for ways a parent can help LD students at home with homework? I'm looking for teaching techniques for reaching primary children with LD or ADD problems.
A: Homework with kids can be a nightmare, but kids with LD or ADHD may push parents close to the brink. It's important to remember that students with learning or attentional problems work very hard during the day just to be there. Homework (when it's the right kind) is as important or more important for these kids than it is for their classmates who don't find school so challenging. However, when kids with LD and ADHD get home there are two things they don't want to do:
1. Do more schoolwork
2. Do more schoolwork with their parents
Many of these kids (and we can understand why) want to come home, "turn off," "chill out," and not feel dumb. And then the parent says: "Where's your homework?" So again, we can understand when they say, "Got none," or "Got it done in school," or "I'll do it in the morning on the bus." Successful homework for kids with LD and ADHD should have the following traits:
The work should be within their ability level. Home -- especially in front of parents -- is not a time to do stuff that's just way too hard.
Homework is not a time to introduce kids to new content. That's called "school-work."
Teachers should predict how long a particular assignment should take, and let kids and parents know that it's ok to send incomplete work in the next day, if the child and the parent feel that the student has really given it his best effort, but it was taking way too long to get it done. Kids need sleep and so do parents.
Somebody at school should have "primed the pump" by having the kids start the homework in school.
The child should see the work as relevant and not just busy work. This is the teacher's job.
Kids should have someone to call -- a "homework buddy" -- or a website to check if things get tough at night.
There should be some very positive consequence for doing homework. This can be learning something very exciting, which will deepen your child's understanding of something she is very motivated to learn. It will make her feel confident and smart and give her something she can bring to school the next day to share with teachers or other kids -- that will give her some status and boost her self-concept.
There are some great resources on the Internet that can help students with LD and ADHD and parents who are trying to make homework a more successful, rewarding, and pleasant experience. Family Education Network has a wonderful assortment of strategies that will help kids develop specific skills that are necessary to complete homework assignments:
The Homework Toolkit
More suggestions about helping kids with homework
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Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab @ Lesley University, a program that provides assessment, tutoring, and case management services for children with learning challenges. Schultz holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.