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Many afterschool programs provide homework support. But, what do you do when a student has difficulty completing homework assignments?

Let’s take a look at Eddie.

Eddie has difficulty during homework time in his afterschool program. He has math homework every day, but he just can’t seem to get started. He won’t sit down, open his book, and get to work like the other students. Before you intervene, it is important to determine if the student can’t or won’t do the homework. Here are some ideas for making that determination.

  • Take Eddie to a private area to talk. Tell him that you would like to help him with his homework.
  • Have him show you his assignment. Ask him to talk aloud while he completes one of the problems.
  • Observe him while he does the problem. If he has difficulty, ask him if he understands the problem. If he says he understands, ask him to explain the problem. If he says no, explain what he needs to do to complete the problem and walk him through the process.
  • Observe what he does when you transition students to homework time. Does he pay attention to the cues? Is he distracted by other things on his way to the homework area? Does he remember to get his materials? It may be that he does not know the appropriate transition routine and will need to be taught it.

If Eddie does not have the necessary skills—cognitive and/or social skills to participate—to do his homework, then it is unlikely that he can do his homework independently. Here are some ideas to help Eddie.

  • Pair Eddie with a homework buddy.
  • Share your observations with Eddie’s teacher. Talk to Eddie’s teacher about alternative assignments (shorter or different) for him.
  • Review and even reteach skills that Eddie needs to complete his math homework.
  • Teach Eddie a transition routine for starting his homework. Break the routine into observable steps: Stop and listen to the cue that it is now homework time, get his materials (book, assignment, pencil, calculator, etc.), find a seat, take a deep breathe, and start his assignment.

If Eddie does have the necessary skills to do his homework, then it is possible that he won’t do his homework without some adjustments or

accommodations. Here are some ideas to help Eddie.

  • Give him a private “office” area in which to work.
  • Allow Eddie to take a break after completing each set of 3-5 problems.
  • Award points for completing each problem and allow him to exchange them for rewards.
  • Let Eddie chose an activity that he enjoys (e.g., help other or younger children with their homework; play a video game; etc.) once he finishes his homework.

Find hundreds more practical ideas for enhancing afterschool programs in Afterschool Extensions: Including Students with Disabilities in Afterschool Programs