Homework Planners for Students in Special Education: Building Organizational and Time Management Skills

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As more students with disabilities are being taught in typical classrooms, completing homework becomes even more important. Teachers assign homework to monitor students’ progress, provide learning reinforcement, and improve study and organizational skills. Just as students may need accommodations in the classroom, they may also need homework accommodations. Aside from other homework modifications, students who receive special education can benefit from homework planners to help them stay organized, track assignments, and locate information from school to show parents.

How to Use Homework Planners

To complete homework assignments, students with disabilities often need help with keeping organized. Students benefit from using calendars, lists, and other tools to organize their activities, just as adults do. A homework planner, for example, can assist students with disabilities in keeping track of assignments. Planners can also be useful in increasing communication between teachers and parents if space is provided for written messages. To use these planners as an effective tool, students should be taught how to use them.

Teachers can lead students in using homework planners by having students create their own calendars. On this calendar, each page should reflect one week of study. Calendars should have ample space for students to fill in homework assignments and include a column for parent-teacher communication. To personalize their planners, students should illustrate or decorate a cover for the calendar using card stock or construction paper.

To make effective use of their planners, students should be taught to graph the days they completed and returned homework. Students should record each day they completed and returned their homework on a chart by using the following rules:

  • Color the day’s square green when homework is completed and returned.

  • Color the day’s square red when homework is incomplete.

  • Color half the of the day’s square red and the other half yellow when homework is late.

The Benefits

This strategy has been associated with improved homework completion rates and a better sense of responsibility. For extra incentive, teachers can develop a reward system for completing assignments. Students who met success criterion should receive a reward at the end of the week, such as extra recess time. Some students with behavioral challenges may need more frequent rewards.

Older students who receive special education services can adapt homework planners to fit their needs. Students can add their own homework tips or remind themselves of how to best use their study time. Teachers or parents might ask students to note how long specific assignments took to complete. Whatever an individual’s needs may be, a homework planner should serve the student in ensuring assignments are completed and do what they are intended to do - improve learning.