For pupils with dyslexia, homework can be a frustrating experience. It is not just the homework itself that may be challenging, or the child’s levels of literacy, but also their difficulties with organisation and concentration.
As all academic work requires their full concentration, the child with dyslexia has to work far harder than their peers. They are unable to complete work to an appropriate standard on automatic pilot. Accurate reading, spelling and writing all demand effort. It is easy to understand how a child exhausted after a gruelling day at school, would resent continuing that pressure into the home environment.
How to help: –
- The class teacher needs to be aware of struggles with homework, (in addition to any excessive amounts of homework being given by other teachers). The purpose of homework is to practise something that the children are already familiar with. They should not be set work that is beyond their capability or which takes too long to complete. Simple solutions would be to avoid giving homework for homework’s sake, setting smaller amounts of work, and/or allowing pupils extra time to complete the work.
- All children need time to play and relax. Children with dyslexia find it difficult to maintain concentration for long periods and tire quickly, so a ‘little and often’ approach to homework is preferable.
- Visual supports are essential. Large whiteboards are the perfect solution for tracking homework, with homework set written on the board, then erased when completed. Lists, post-it notes, calendars, timetables or ‘to do / done’ lists will all help the disorganised child.
- Support a hesitant reader, a tired child or a slow writer by reading questions to them or copying out sums into their books for them to complete.
- If your child has difficulty writing homework down at school or remembering tasks, liaise with the teacher to see if homework can be provided on a worksheet or accessed via the school’s website.
- You are a parent, not a teacher. Do not try to teach them at home. If they ask for help, give it. If they do not, leave well alone.
- Do not give the child extra homework over the weekends. For children with dyslexia, it is essential they have generous down time to enjoy their own hobbies or simply relax and do nothing.
- Create a suitable working space for them away from distractions.
- Make use of IT. IT is a boon for a child with dyslexia. They can word process their work rather than laboriously copy everything out by hand, and use the spellcheck facility. Use text-to-speech software to read longer pieces of text or to proof read their own work. Use their mobile phone to take photos of important information, set reminders for deadlines or record voice messages.
- Be an advocate for your child. Not every teacher will be aware of the range of different problems pupils with dyslexia can experience. They may be confused by children whose underachievement appears to be due to carelessness or a lack of effort. All teachers need to have an understanding of dyslexia in order to avoid misinterpreting these children’s behaviour. It is a teacher’s responsibility to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning for every pupil within their class. Children with dyslexia will then be able to enjoy the same feelings of success as their peers.