Helpful Hints for Handling Homework
Once again, the school year is in full swing. No more sleeping late. No more lazy summer days. It’s early to bed, early to rise, and of course once again it’s time to tackle homework. This task can seem overwhelming, particularly at the beginning of a new school year, and especially if your child is new to school. Here are a few suggestions that might help make homework time go more smoothly.
Communicate with the Teacher
Most teachers truly want parents to be involved in their children’s education. If you talk to or email your child’s teacher and ask if homework can be emailed to you, or whether homework is available on a class website, you may be surprised by the results. Some things are more easily emailed than others. Materials the teacher does not create him or herself might be more challenging to email, as will packets of homework for young children with lots of pictures. Even having the teacher email you directions to assignments or the spelling or sight words for the week or month can go a long way in helping you help your child learn.
Make Friends with Other Class Parents
This may be easier said than done, but parents of other kids in your child’s class are wonderful resources. After all, they are helping their children with the same assignments. Perhaps you could gather somewhere to do homework together. Maybe you could help with one aspect of the homework the other parent finds frustrating, and the other parent can help with parts of the homework which you find hard. Even having the ability to call or text another parent to get clarification on directions, especially for young children’s assignments, can be very helpful.
See What Your Child Knows
Often homework is a review of what has been done in class. Even a young child might understand what needs to be done because he or she has seen it before. So it never hurts to ask, “Do you know how to do this?” If they can spell, you can ask them to read the letters they see. This can be very slow, but may work in certain situations. Of course, this gets much easier when your child is older and can read.
All parents hire help for homework – and a variety of other things – for tons of reasons. Perhaps it makes sense to hire some help for your child’s homework. The helper could be someone from a church, a retired person who loves children and is looking for a little work, or even a high school or middle school student who needs some type of service hours. Another great place to look for possible homework helpers is a college campus. Education majors might jump at the chance to gain experience working with children on homework. Finally, some schools have after-school programs where children receive help with homework and other skills. Check what resources your school might have to offer your child.
There Might Be an App for That
There are a variety of apps you can use to read all types of documents. Some, like the KNFB Reader, are apps you need to pay for. Others, like Seeing AI are free. There are also services now, such as Be My Eyes and Aira, which connect the user with a person in real time who can do reading or answer other questions.
It’s Your Child’s Homework
This is important to remember. We all want our children to succeed; we all may have the desire to have our children turn in “perfect” assignments. We want teachers to see us as competent parents who just happen to be blind, and part of being a competent parent is to help children with homework and make sure it is perfectly done. Try not to fall into this trap! Remember two things. One, homework is a chance for the teacher to learn what things your child can do well, and what things your child still has to work on. If your child has trouble with certain parts of homework, the teacher will be able to give him or her more help in class or talk with you about ways you can help him or her at home. Two, especially in the early years, the fact that you care enough to sit down with your child and make sure he or she completes homework counts for a lot. Not all parents can or do take the time to do this. Teachers notice.
Concentrate on What You Can Do
It is sometimes frustrating to dwell on all of the little things that might be difficult for you as a blind parent to do. You cannot necessarily see whether your child is making letters or numbers backwards, for example, and you might not be able to verify that your child has used the correct color for something. However there are many things you can do and many ways to reinforce what your child is learning. You can have your child write letters and numbers in shaving cream or sand so you can feel his or her work. You can practice letters, numbers, math facts, colors, sight words, etc., by using flash cards you create in either large print or Braille. You can get a puzzle or other tactile map of the United States so you can help your child learn the locations of the states and their capitals. You can read to your child using large print or Braille books, let your child read to you, and even enjoy an audio book together while discussing different parts of the story. All of these things are a part of your child’s learning. Take the opportunity to be creative and teach your child in your own way, even if it doesn’t look the same as the homework your child completes.