Homework and study skills are challenging for students with a learning disability who often find getting organized, planning ahead and
taking control of their learning quite difficult to do. It is not uncommon for these students to become poorly organized and have trouble locating their work, keeping track of deadlines and completing tasks. Does this sound familiar?
Sometimes a child with a learning disability simply gives up because it is all too hard. Often the student can fall behind to the point where he or she discovers the rest of the class is working on different tasks. From that point, it is difficult to get learning back on track.
If this is happening to the student in your life, read on for some helpful tips on helping your child achieve the life-long skill of task organization.
Get Organized — Calender and Task Lists
Getting organized often sounds easier than it is, but by putting in an effort to learn this invaluable skill, work can be planned out over time. That means homework tasks are not left until the last minute, with a sudden panic at the end. Developing good organization skills can take a little practice. Here's how:
- Set up a calendar or wall planner with large spaces to write for each day. (If a calendar or wall planner will not work for your situation, then use a diary or notebook, but make sure there are large, clear spaces to write in each day.)
- Set aside a time each day for homework tasks. Make this a time when your child is fresh and their mind is ready to work.
- Write in the time and each task on the calendar, then check it off when the task is done.
- Put detailed information in about work tasks – this is a vital part of staying organized! If there is not enough information then the task requirements may be lost over time.
- Gradually encourage your child to take more responsibility for their own calendar and to-do list, and fade out your own involvement.
How Does Your Student Learn Best?
Some kids learn best by using their visual skills. Some learn best by using their auditory skills. Some learn best by using kinesthetic skills (this is when you have a good sense of where your body is in space). Work out the learning methods that suit your child best. Then do some planning. Is there a way they can use their best learning methods to learn a new skill or get a task done? For example, can they write out a list of challenging words for an essay and then look at them and remember the shapes of the words?
Reviewing and Planning Ahead
At the end of each day and week, encourage your child to go back over what they have learned. Get them to organize their work folder on a Friday night so it is ready for Monday. Check if there is anything that has not been understood, and then do something about it – fast!
Don't let your child get into the position of getting behind in studies and then giving up because it is all too hard. It is the job of the teacher to help your child understand and follow the content they are teaching. If their methods are confusing, encourage your child to check back and try and work out why. Suggest that they do frequent reviews of what they have learned, and highlight what is still difficult for them to understand, so they can ask questions. This can also help alert you if additional tutoring on a specific subject may be needed.
A communication book is simply a notebook that travels in the school bag. You set up an arrangement with the teacher and someone at home, such as yourself, where both parties help the child to stay on track with their learning. Note that a communication book has one simple rule – it must be positive! This is not a place for parents to say the child hasn't done something or for the teacher to get the child in trouble at home. A communication book is a tool for helping your child learn about taking control of the study process.
Using technology does not mean just turning on the spell checker in your word processing software. There are lots of simple programs that can subtly but effectively help out when doing a homework task. For example, the program Tiny Spell can sit on the bottom toolbar of the screen and help to spell words, or change color when you spell a word incorrectly, no matter what program you are using. It just picks up errors as you go along.
You can also use calendar and task software that can sync between your home computer and your student's mobile phone. Some programs are created specifically for students, such as StudyMinder, but the key aspect of choosing a software is to find one that your child likes and will use! Enlist your student's help in choosing a scheduling or task software program. You might want to start with a large visual planning center hung on the wall, and then once the routine is established and your student is older, move on to a technology-based solution.
Patience and Encouragement
As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day, and alas, hanging a calendar on the wall won't suddenly turn your disorganized child into a homework superstar. There will also be days when neither you nor your child want to review homework tasks. Be patient with both your child and yourself. Encourage your child to do just a little every day, even on those days when it seems like nothing is going right. You'll soon discover that while you haven't built Rome, you have built a successful and solid routine that gets homework done and assignments handed in wiith very little stress and anguish.
For more tips on helping your child with homework, read Lynn-nore Chittom's Guide to Ending the Homework Hassle.
Source: Author's experience as an Educator in Special Education