Getting homework done by kids with executive functioning challenges can be very difficult for the kids and their parents who are trying to help them. Executive functions are essential to be able to organize schoolwork, develop a plan for how to complete the homework, and to even start doing the assigned work. Many kids with poor executive functioning misplace worksheets, put off doing their homework, leave work unfinished and even forget to turn in assignments. These children have trouble organizing the items they need to do their homework such as notes and worksheets and may forget to bring home their textbooks. Starting week-long assignments the night before they are due is common.

There are many strategies parents can use to help their children with the homework that will reduce stress and the “battles” that often occur. These strategies can help you help your child manage the many challenges associated with homework.

Using a homework planner to write down assignments is essential. Kids with executive functioning challenges often have difficulty remembering homework assignments. These kids are often “visual learners” so a visual reminder such as a planner is helpful. For younger students, parents should ask the teachers to check the planner at the end of class to ensure the assignment is written down.

Establishing a routine at home is critical. For example, upon getting home your child should unpack the book bag, have a snack and a little downtime, and then get started on homework. It is best to have a set location where homework is done. The location should be quiet and away from distractions. Part of the routine should be starting the homework at the same time each day. Once finished, the homework should be put in the backpack and then the backpack should be placed in a set location.

Developing a checklist with the steps necessary to complete each assignment can be very helpful. Clearly defined steps can make the assignment less overwhelming and easier to achieve. This checklist should break down the assignment into manageable steps. Also, a checklist is a good tool for visual learners. Giving a time limit for each step can be helpful. Your child may have trouble estimating how much time is needed for each task. This is especially true for multi-steps projects. Time limits will help your child to better allocate the time necessary for each step.

Your child may have difficulty keeping track of not only time but also the materials needed to complete the assignments. Notes and worksheets may be missing. A separate folder for homework can be useful. Another way is to use folders organized by subjects. Where appropriate, your child can also email assignments to the teacher to ensure the homework is submitted.

Homework does not have to result in a battle. Helping your child with routines, checklists, and time management can make all the difference.

Janet Lee, the founder of Pathways Educational Consulting, has extensive experience serving as an advocate and navigator for parents of children with special needs in the Montgomery Country, Maryland public school system. Janet Lee prepares parents for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) meetings and assists at these meetings in order to secure accommodations and when necessary, appropriate school placements. She has particular expertise in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans.