As a parent, there is no doubt you have experienced the dynamics of homework as it relates to your child’s education. In many public school settings, homework is a vital part of the academic progress, bridging lessons taught at school with the home environment and functions in day-to-day living. If you are the parent of a child who is involved in special education programs, homework may be assigned in not only the academic setting but also by your child’s mental health professionals or rehabilitation providers.
Homework, by its design, should promote your child’s assimilation of lessons taught into the realm of their natural environment. While academic homework is important to your child’s ability to transition to a more independent living into adulthood, there are those homework assignments utilized by mental health professionals that may be far more important. When trying to balance the varieties of homework given to your special needs child, it is important to focus on those that are considered priorities to health and then move to those that promote independent living.
If your child’s mental health professional has assigned “homework” following a therapy session, it is important, as the parent, that you understand not only what the homework is but that you also understand what the ultimate goal of the therapist may be. If your child lives with a severe psychiatric impairment, the use of homework may prove most effective but must be diligently and routinely assigned by your child’s mental health therapist. As part of that assignment, ask your child’s therapist to provide you with the written guidelines for the homework assignment and work to ensure these assignments are managed on a consistent frequency and requiring the same time in duration. Any variations to frequency and duration can impose distress on your family, especially your child, when working to balance other homework assignments.
While, at first, the frequency and duration of homework may be established by the mental health professional, as time passes, you may find the frequency or duration needs to be adjusted. Communicating your concerns with your child’s mental health professional will provide for a chance to modify those homework assignments over several weeks until, ultimately, all of your child’s homework assignments can be effectively managed.
If your child’s mental health professional never assigns homework, this may be an issue you need to address. Because the majority of mental health professionals agree that homework is essential to the therapy process for special needs children, as a parent, you may need to insist on its use. If the mental health professional refuses to accommodate your request, a change in therapists or psychiatric care may be necessary.