Inside: Homework. Just saying the word elicits a lot of feelings. Here are some IEP Accommodations for Homework, including common questions and tips for implementation.

Can you get homework accommodations on an IEP? Short answer: YES! I know many families tired of the tears, battles, and homework’s general unpleasantness.

Especially if your child has an IEP, so, here are some things to consider, things to look at in your specific situation, and accommodations you can ask for your child in Special Education or their IEPs.

A woman sitting on a bed with a dog on her lap while working on her IEP homework accommodations.
Isn’t this the perfect homework accommodation?

First things first. Some things to ask your teacher at the very beginning of the year.

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Determine the purpose of the homework.

Homework is something we accept passively.

But what is the function of this teacher/subject’s homework?

  • Is it to test the child’s Executive Functioning skills, not the content?
  • Are there enough hours in the school day/year to accomplish this?
  • Is the child expected to learn these concepts on their own?
  • Will it reinforce the learning that took place that day or week?
  • Will this homework be graded? What is the weight? How much value does it have toward the child’s grade?
  • Is it to test learning of a concept that day or week?

The first one: executive functioning skills. Perhaps this assignment or project is not to test their knowledge of the content but to see how well they manage materials or a project.

If you know that EF issues are a struggle for your child, ask for EF goals and strategies.

There are many examples in the link I provided above. But nothing can make your whole house more anxious than an upset student who cannot find his homework, let alone do it!

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So, if EF is the issue, stay on top of that.

Tips for homework accommodations for parents of students with IEPs.

Homework Struggles and an IEP

Aside from losing the homework (see above), what are the struggles with homework?

  • Is the content too hard?
  • Does the child not want to do it (perhaps from an ODD diagnosis)? Is it a lack of focus?
  • Do they have the necessary skill set to do the homework?

Identify specifically and for what subject areas the child is struggling. Describe specifically what it looks like. “They say they cannot do this” or “they don’t remember.” Identify the struggle or problem area, then take into consideration what the purpose is of the homework.

For example, if it is just for reinforcement and not to test for knowledge, ask for accommodations.

If the child cannot complete the assignment in 45 or 90 minutes, they will stop anyway.

Establishing baselines to see how much your child can complete in one hour would be best. This varies with age.

I think no child should have to spend 5-6 hours a night on homework, especially if that amount of time doesn’t even result in correct, completed assignments.

A boy with accommodations is working on homework while wearing headphones.
Why can’t music or sound cancelling headphones be an IEP homework accommodation?

IEP Homework Questions

Talk about homework at the IEP meeting. Set reasonable time limits and go from there. Your child may need modified content if they cannot master the same amount of content in the same amount of time as their non-disabled peers.

  • Ask if your child must be graded on every assignment their peers are graded on. Perhaps if they do it more for practice and less for testing, it will take some of the pressure off.
  • This could backfire by adding more weight to test scores and grades, which may not be a great solution. Find the balance.
  • If the homework is to test knowledge and your child has strategies for test-taking, the same strategies should apply to homework.
  • You may need specific accommodations if the homework is to teach or learn something there isn’t time for in a school.
  • For some kids, they have to be directly taught everything. Learning something via homework may not be a realistic endeavor.
A boy with IEP accommodations is diligently completing his homework at a table, armed with papers and a pencil.
Does the homework serve a function?

Types of Accommodation for Homework

When we say the word homework, each of us gets a picture in our minds.

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It’s important to individualize the accommodations to the child. We may say homework, but we’re talking about assignments as a whole. This may or may not include:

  • Presentation Accommodations or Oral Presentations (even if the entire assignment is done at school and not at home)
  • Response Accommodations (because the child is graded on class participation, which will never occur at home)
  • Time Accommodations
  • Environmental Accommodations (which the parent would likely be responsible for)

IEP Homework Accommodations

Here are IEP accommodations for homework to support students with diverse needs:

  1. Extended Time: Provide extra time for completing assignments or projects.
  2. Simplified Instructions: Break down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.
  3. Homework Calendar: Give the student a homework calendar or checklist to help with organization.
  4. Quiet Workspace: Offer a quiet and distraction-free environment for homework.
  5. Preferential Seating: Allow the student to choose a comfortable seating arrangement.
  6. Visual Supports: Use visual aids or graphic organizers to assist with understanding and planning homework.
  7. Alternative Assignments: Provide alternative assignments that match the student’s abilities and interests.
  8. Use of Technology: Permit the use of assistive technology or speech-to-text software, calculators, tablet.
  9. Note-Taking Assistance: Offer access to class notes or a note-taking buddy.
  10. Modified Reading Materials: Provide materials at the appropriate reading level for the student.
  11. Communicate with Parents: Ensure regular communication between teachers and parents to monitor homework progress.
  12. Flexible Due Dates: Allow flexibility in due dates to accommodate the student’s individual pace or unexpected circumstances.
  13. Reduced Assignments Accommodation: Some students need fewer assignments because of the time it takes them to complete assignments; or the effort it takes them in processing and producing work. Consider making adjustments to the volume of work required.
  14. Extended Time for Homework Assignments: Some students require more time to produce results. As a general rule, I’m not a fan of this accommodation because, too often, I see IEP teams add it without looking at the big picture. If the skill set isn’t there, all the time in the world doesn’t matter.
  15. Opting out of Homework: Find another way for the child to achieve the goal of the homework.
  16. Provided Materials: A team or teacher can provide study guides, a test booklet (depending on the test), a visual schedule or other helpful items.

I know–teachers bristle when they think we’re going to add “one more thing” to their already full plates. Many times, these things already exist–either other teachers have it, or it’s online. Or, have other students create the study guides as their assignment or for extra credit.

These accommodations can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each student and should be included in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). It’s important to collaborate with educators, parents, and specialists to determine the most suitable accommodations for each student’s unique requirements.

Keep data on your child’s homework.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. Just a notebook in the area where you do the homework.

Please write down the date and what homework you worked on, for how long, and how much assistance it took.

It’s just a different way of doing the homework. The idea is not to give moms and dads more work to do, but you do need the data to get your child support and services….so monitor the data and keep it.

A quote concerning the relationship between homework and IEP.

Keep in mind, again, we have to individualize this and look at the big picture. Because every child is different.

How is the child completing homework?

At home or at school (study halls), there is an optimum setup for every child, and we should work toward making that possible for them.

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I’m old school enough to remember that the thinking used to be that you had to be sitting in a hard, wooden chair, at a student’s desk, with both feet flat on the floor. That was considered what was “best” for learning.

Now, my kid sits in his Yogibo. And he’s a great student!

Homework IEP Tips for Teachers

I was a teacher. I get it. You’re busy.

Not all of this has to fall on you. My goal is never to make more work for teachers. I see you and I hear you.

But you know what–when you change homework expectations for one child, no where is it written that the change can only happen for that one child.

That’s one thing you can do–just edit the entire assignment and include everyone. Make it a small group project to be done during class time instead of as homework.

Creating a calming classroom environment helps all kids. Not just the ones with IEPs. Giving frequent breaks, or a note taker or changing the time of day that you do some teaching doesn’t have to change for only one child.

Homework and Self-Advocacy

Homework is a great time to develop self-advocacy and self-awareness skills.

Give the child a highlighter, and tell them to highlight what they struggled with. Have them create an audio or video recording (if writing is too much to ask) telling their experience and advocating for themselves.

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A woman and child working on their homework at a table in a room, with special accommodations for their individual educational needs as outlined in the IEP.
Some younger kids will love playing school at home.

Your teacher only sees the homework in front of them.

Your child’s teacher sees the assignment that was handed in. If you helped your child significantly and it took 90 minutes to do one worksheet, they need to know!

All they see is the completed worksheet.

So, keep the data in your notebook at home and let the teacher know. Depending on age or social appropriateness, write it on the homework. Or, send in a separate note or email. But they need to know.

Summarizing, here are the things you can do as a parent to help end the homework wars:

  • Identify the struggles and ensure the team is aware of them.
  • Any areas of need regarding homework should be identified in the IEP Present Levels.
  • Keep data on the homework process that takes place in your house
  • openly communicate on how much time and assistance your child needs with homework
  • Work with IEP team for either reduced workload, time limits, do “only what is essential” or whatever else is appropriate for your child
  • Keep your chin up; staying motivated and keeping your child motivated every day can be hard.
  • For other ideas and strategies, see 500 SDIs for an IEP
  • As with anything else, follow the IEP process. Ask for your request in writing, ask for their response on a PWN, and take it from there.

Our kids often work twice as hard to get half as far. It’s not fair, but those are the cards we were dealt.

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