Turning “I Can’t” into “I Can”

By Daniel Franklin, Ph.D


For many children with language-based learning disabilities (LBLDs), their thoughts about school are profoundly negative •The best way to help children revise their thinking is to adapt what they are required to do so that they are not overwhelmed and can be successful • Homework provides an ideal opportunity to introduce a more positive mindset

Despite what we like to think about how growth and development occur, what we know is that it is rarely a linear process. To figure out how to adjust your child’s homework and projects to his ability, ask these questions:

1. How much help should I provide? This needs to be asked every day, because your child’s capacity for completing homework will change every day. Adjusting how much help you provide requires taking the circumstances of the day into account. Ask yourself the following questions to assess your child’s ability to tackle the assignments on any given day. Let the answers to these questions shape your expectations for how much he can reasonably contribute and how much support you will need to provide to keep the experience of completing homework a positive one.

    • Is my child tired?
    • Am I squeezing in homework before a sports practice or music lesson?
    • Is the assignment for a subject my child enjoys or one with which he struggles?
    • Does my child have the skills needed to complete the assignment or are they still emerging?

2. How much homework is right for my child? There is no single answer to this question; it changes day to day. On days when your child is capable of doing a lot, have him complete a lot. On days when he is not capable of doing a lot, be happy with what you get.

Children are not like adults. They cannot be expected to apply themselves with consistent effort.

Completing only a fraction of an assignment may actually be enough for your child. Even assignments that have been modified to address LBLDs can still be overwhelming.

Communicate Your Flexibility

It’s important that you tell your child that you are willing to adjust your expectations based on the circumstances at hand. When your child knows that you are comfortable with his inconsistency, it helps him feel safe and comfortable; it also helps him feel capable of greater effort. 

This article is excerpted from Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities (Strategies to Succeed in School and Life with Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, ADHD, and Auditory Processing Disorder), by Daniel Franklin, PhD; published by New Harbinger Publications (2018). Available at Amazon through this link: Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities. Dr. Franklin is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and the founder of Franklin Educational Services. 

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