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How do I... help my child deal with homework?

Photo: Parents offer their tips on how they help their children with their homework

Homework can be a challenge for some deaf children as they may find school more tiring than their peers or miss key information in class. We asked parents to share their tips on how they support their child with homework.

Zack has one-to-one sessions...

Two boys at a swimming pool 
Zack (left)

Tracey is mum to Zack (15) who is severely deaf and wears hearing aids.

"When Zack started high school he had lots of new vocabulary to learn and his Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) noticed that he was struggling to keep up. This was having a negative impact on his studies and made homework difficult as he didn’t understand key concepts.

With the support of his ToD I shared my concerns at Zack’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan review.

There was no space in the school timetable for individual time outside his lessons so the school agreed that the 30-minute daily form period which students use for assembly or silent reading could be used for a one-to-one session for Zack with his teaching assistant (TA).

During these sessions new vocabulary is discussed, any homework issues are looked at and if not resolved then the TA informs the subject teacher so this area can be looked at again.

The form teacher passes on to the TA any relevant news from assembly which Zack has missed. This extra support time has worked extremely well as Zack doesn’t feel he’s missing out on the mainstream lessons."

Emma finds spelling the hardest...

Deaf girl

Liz is mum to Emma (10) who is moderately deaf and wears hearing aids.

"All homework is challenging for Emma. She comes home from school very tired because she has had to concentrate 100% on every conversation every minute of the day. She also struggles with things that she’s missed in class, especially in maths. The homework Emma finds hardest is spelling as she can’t always hear the words clearly.

We usually have dinner when Emma comes home and talk about the day. I will then clear up while Emma looks at her homework. Then I sit with her and talk through the homework to see if she needs help. If it’s a difficult task and isn’t due for a few days, she only does a bit each night.

Emma and I have worked out a way to help her learn her spellings. First Emma writes down the word and sees how many other words she can find in it – this helps her to memorise the word. We usually go over the spellings again and again until Emma can memorise them by ‘sight and sound’. I also help her to make sentences using the words. It will take days to learn the spellings and Emma will work on them for an hour every evening as she wants to keep up with the class."

The ToD introduced a new system for setting homework...

Boy jumping

Emma is mum to Benjamin (15) who is moderately deaf and wears a hearing aid.

"It took a few years for us to realise why Benjamin was really struggling with homework.

His ToD was shadowing him to try to find out what the problem was, and she noticed that teachers tended to set homework at the end of the lesson.

At this time most of the pupils are packing up their bags, scraping chairs, chatting and shuffling around which creates a lot of background noise and distraction. It’s also when kids start to leave the room and head to the next lesson so there isn’t time to ask for instructions to be repeated.

The ToD introduced a new system for setting homework for the whole school. Now homework is given out at the beginning of the lesson and a written version of the instructions is available for those who ask. It also means the children have the rest of the lesson to digest the instructions and ask for help if needed.

This new system has been so much better for Benjamin – he now always understands the homework and so struggles much less."

Ryan found retaining information difficult...

Deaf boy


Amy is mum to Ryan (13) who is profoundly deaf and has cochlear implants.

"At primary school Ryan had very little homework but when he moved to high school it was a whole different ball game.

He found retaining information difficult and even when he had written the task in his homework journal or Google Classroom (a free app that helps learners and teachers connect), the description wasn’t detailed enough for me to be able to support him. I was forever calling the school to ask what the context was and check the deadline.

Ryan’s school recognised this was an issue and arranged for him to go to the homework club twice a week for 45 minutes. He is also supported to update his planner and Google Classroom so that he can remember what he has to do when he gets home.

I have his Google Classroom app on my phone so I know what he’s been set and check in with his teachers once a week to get an update.

If he is struggling and getting stressed about his homework levels, the teaching staff in the hearing impairment unit let his teachers know so they can help.

Ryan is a very visual learner and the school recognises this so homework is often re-written or adapted to accommodate this."