Finding a After School Program to Help with Homework

When looking for a good afterschool program for children with learning and attention difficulties, it is important to explore how programs address homework.

Homework is key to academic success. However, finishing them requires organization and know how to manage time, and it is in these areas that many children with learning and attention difficulties need help.

How can you tell if a program offers enough help to ensure that the time to complete homework is productive? Here we show you what to look for.

A dedicated physical space to do the tasks

A place to do homework needs to be quiet and well lit. You should also have:

A table (or ideally, several tables) to work together small groups of children. That place could also be where your daughter gets help if she needs it
A separate area where children can work on their own
A research area with computers so that children can search for information and write their assignments
A comfortable place to read
A structured routine to do homework

A good program dedicates a specific amount of time for children to complete homework. That amount of time can vary from 30 minutes a day for primary school children, up to two hours a day for high schoolers. If children finish their homework ahead of schedule, good programs will allow them to do other activities such as participating in a game that uses math skills.

Some programs may offer snacks and allow children to play outside for a set amount of time before it is time to start homework. If the amount of time is important to your child, be sure to ask how the homework adapts to the schedule.

Assistance to help your daughter with homework

Good programs have employees who oversee tasks and offer help when needed. That person could be a certified teacher (this is likely if the program is located at the school). Some programs hire college students.

A process for communicating with family members

Children with learning and attention difficulties perform better when their families and program staff communicate regularly. Ask if staff alerts family members when their children:

It takes too long to finish a task
They need a lot of help to finish a task
They get distracted or just do not do homework
It is also a good idea to find out if they send notes to the house or if family members are expected to talk to the staff when picking up their children.

Willingness to work with the systems you or the school have created

Children with learning and attention difficulties can benefit from systems that help them keep track of their duties. For example, you and your daughter's teacher may have created a contract for the assignments. This could detail the expectations your daughter has to meet, the consequences if she does not meet them and the consequences if she succeeds. Program staff should be willing to enforce the contract, if possible.

Another option is for you to have a record that your daughter uses to keep track of her duties. If a signature is required, program staff must be willing to sign it.

Assistance for adaptations

It is important that after-school programs offer the accommodations your daughter needs. For example, a child with writing difficulties may need to dictate what he says instead of writing. In that case, the program needs to offer access to voice-to-text conversion software, or have someone who can write what the child dictates.

Successfully completing homework on a regular basis can increase your daughter's self-confidence in school. A good after school homework program can help, but keep in mind that there are other topics to consider when looking for afterschool programs.

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