Homework can be a frustrating and upsetting experience for dyslexic children and their parents on a daily basis. Try these tips to make it a more productive experience.
1. Check it’s reasonable
First of all, remember that the purpose of homework is to practise something that your child is already familiar with. If homework is too difficult, you should discuss this with the child’s teacher. Don’t allow your child to become frustrated because homework tasks are beyond their skills or take too long. Setting smaller amounts of work and/or allowing extra time will often help.
2. Establishing a homework routine
Develop a daily homework routine – a written or visual plan put in a prominent place is ideal. It should include an agreed plan as to what happens after arrival home from school, with some flexibility to take into account after-school activities. Work out the best time for your child to do their homework. Keep in mind that they may be very tired after school if they’ve had to work harder than their peers so they may need a break before starting homework.
Daily reading is essential too, as lots of practice is required for students with dyslexia to master literacy skills. Read aloud with your child when they are becoming frustrated. This helps them to understand and enjoy what they are reading and it still helps them to learn. Your child can also read along with books on tape or CD – look through our tips to help dyslexic children enjoy reading for more ideas.
3. Getting started
Chunk homework into manageable parts with breaks between tasks, as dyslexic children can become discouraged when faced with large amounts of work. Encourage your child to produce quality work rather than rushing tasks.
Go over homework requirements to ensure your child understands what to do. Read instructions aloud when you know it is hard for them to decode them accurately. If necessary, practise the first example or two with them.
Help your child to generate ideas for writing tasks and projects before they start work. If necessary, revise vocabulary that they may need. Sometimes you may help to develop a writing plan. When necessary and appropriate, handwrite (scribe) for your child so that they can get their ideas on paper more accurately.
Encourage them to present work using their personal strengths – for example, they could use pictures if they are good at art.
4. Checking and monitoring work
Help your child to learn editing, self-monitoring and checking skills so they can go over their own work more independently as they get older. For example, a simple checking process like COPS can be helpful when proof reading work:
Check for: C = Capitals O = Overall appearance P = Punctuation S = Spelling.
Teach your child to use the computer for work as they get older. Show them how to use a spell checker and encourage them to learn touch typing skills on a typing tutor program.
Give your child lots of praise as they complete homework tasks. Be specific about what they have done well.
(With thanks to the British Dyslexia Association)