In my last blog, I talked about all those projects, book reports, research papers, etc. that strike fear in the hearts of parents. I tried to help parents sort out what was reasonable to expect of their child, and how to help their child develop good organizational skills for the projects. I got some feedback suggesting that parents might wonder about how much help to give, so that’s what I decided to write about.
- If the work or project comes home, and you know your child can’t do it independently, what do you do? Do you rescue your child, as you probably want to do? Yes—by making sure he can do it himself.
- If your child has an IEP or 504, the work should come home in a modified format. Parents should make sure this happens starting in September, so the project is at an appropriate reading level, with writing expectations your child can meet, and simplified instructions with enough organization.
- If it’s homework and your child can’t do it—send it back. Simple as that. Put a post-it note on it stating that your child couldn’t do the work, and follow up with an email. Ask if the teacher wants to work with your child before or after school. If this happens more than once a week, make an appointment to meet with the teacher to talk about modifications.
- Any reading that’s sent home should be readable by your child, independently. You can ask for a novel or a textbook at a lower reading level. For kids with a significant reading disability, you want high interest-low difficulty books. They exist, and your child should have assignments that use them.
- For projects, you want it to be simple enough that your child can do everything except drive to the craft store herself. You can sit beside her, offer suggestions about layout, lettering, colors, or how much research is needed, but don’t do the work yourself. If you can’t stand the thought that it won’t look as good as her peers, don’t look at any of their projects! Just praise your child lavishly for her efforts, and for completing the project.
- The best way to help your child is to teach him to help himself. Teach him to self-advocate with teachers and ask for help, find information online, think about what a project should “look like”, to read written work out loud, and to figure out how difficult a project will be. Help him to get organized, but try not to do the organizing for him.
Use your communication book to keep track of the assignments and projects your child receives. Write down the problems he has with each one—and the progress he makes in dealing with them. Celebrate that progress!
Your job is to help your child become more independent, and if that isn’t working, to bring this problem to the school. If they assign the work, and your child can’t do it, then they need to change what they expect, or how much help they give your child, so your child will be able to do it.
Remember, you are the expert on your child. Help the school to understand your child and give him the necessary skills to work independently.