Homework planners can be used effectively with students with special needs if you follow a few simple tips. The planner should be a communication tool between school and home as well as a teaching tool for the student to learn organizational skills.
Special education homework planners should be used with students to teach organizational skills. Depending on their needs, students may or may not be able to write in the homework planner on their own. If students can write down their own assignments, then they should be given plenty of time at the end of the day or after each subject to write down assignments and record whether or not they have finished the assignment.
Teachers use several different methods in special education homework planners to communicate with parents about whether or not students have finished assignments. Some use color codes; others highlight unfinished assignments or put check marks next to finished assignments. Some teachers ask students to only write down unfinished work in their homework planners. Make sure at the beginning of the year that parents understand the communication system in the new classroom.
For students who are unable to write down their own assignments, teachers can adapt the special education homework planners. Students with special needs can dictate what assignments they had during the day and what they still need to finish, so they are involved in organizing their homework planners. Another method is for teachers to assign a buddy student to help the student with special needs. Finally, teachers can print out assignments, and students can tape or paste these into their special education homework planners. The same system for marking unfinished assignments can be used.
Taking the organizational lesson one step further, students with special needs can learn to use their special education homework planners to decide what books, folders, and notebooks they need to take home each night. Again, if they are not physically able to pack their bags, allow them to be involved in the process in some way -- by pointing or telling teachers or buddy students what they need to take home.
Teachers and buddy students can read the planner notes to help students make decisions on what materials to take home to complete homework each night if they have difficulty reading the assignments on their own.
Communicating with Parents
One great use of special education homework planners is to communicate with parents. You can set up your program, so that you require parents to sign homework planners every night. If you have any notes, special requests, long-term assignments, or so on, you can note these in the planner, so parents know what to expect for the next few weeks. Since you will be checking the special education homework planners each day for parents' signatures, you can see any notes that they have written back about their child or the homework the night before. For example, if a student with a math learning disability had twenty-five multiplication problems for homework, but he only finished 10 in one hour, parents can write to the teacher and let her know the student's difficulty. You can also ask the student to be involved in making sure teachers and parents see each other's notes.
Special education homework planners are an important tool for students, teachers, and parents.