Ask the Experts

Q: “Can a 504 Plan Help My Son Remember to Turn in His Homework?”

“You can build it into your 504 Plan to have the teacher contact you if your son has missing homework assignments or his grades have dropped to a certain GPA.”

A teacher assigning homework on the blackboard, which 504 accomodations for adhd can help your child to complete by improving communication.
A teacher assigning homework on the blackboard, which 504 accomodations for adhd can help your child to complete by improving communication.

Q: “My seventh grader’s teachers report that he has forgotten to complete assignments or turn in his homework — even though he insists he has done them. I check his computer every night, but some assignments don’t show up as missing for weeks. How can I help him remember his assignments and keep him focused? He has a 504 Plan. Is there anything I should add?” — FrustratedMom

Hi FrustratedMom:

I totally understand your frustration, especially if you and your son are doing everything you can to stay on top of his homework and class assignments. You have many different concerns: You don’t know soon enough when homework is missing, your son thinks he’s getting everything turned in, and you’re also worried about his grades.

Some seventh graders don’t need help remembering homework. However, for students with ADHD and executive functioning challenges, being organized, remembering to do homework, and knowing how and even where to turn it in are all tasks that can be extremely difficult to manage. So, your son may really need help! Seventh grade, for many kids, is a transition year — from elementary school to middle school, from childhood to adolescence. There’s much more going on than just weekly homework. In other words, it can be an overwhelming time.

[Free Download: Proven Homework Help for Kids with ADHD]

The good news is that because you already have a 504 Plan in place, you can expect his seventh-grade teacher to implement a system to help him remember to do and turn in his homework.

Before I suggest changes to your son’s 504 Plan, I think it’s important that your son knows you believe he is doing the best he can. It can be really demoralizing for a child to feel like he’s doing everything he’s supposed to, only to discover something went wrong. It could be that your son is turning in the work, but it’s going to the wrong spot, or the teacher has misplaced it. And while it’s possible that your son hasn’t turned in anything, avoid placing blame and instead focus on establishing a system that will help your son be more successful, more accountable, and keep his teacher accountable, too.

Begin by contacting your CSE (Committee for Special Education) point of contact to request an amendment to the 504 Plan. Depending on the district, this may require a CSE meeting, but in some schools, they can just add the amendment and send it to the teachers.

Top 504 Plan Homework Accommodations for ADHD

Here are 504 Plan accommodations that I recommend:

  1. A prompt from the teacher to turn in assignments. A 504 Plan is not an IEP — it has fewer teeth. 504s work more like recommendations than the enforced rules of an IEP, but it’s often enough to have it in writing that the teacher should prompt the student to turn in work.
  2. A homework checklist can also help keep your son accountable — not just the online grading system but a physical piece of paper that the student has the teacher initial when he turns in the assignment.
  3. A paper planner that is checked daily by the teachers to ensure your son has all his assignments noted as well as completed and turned in.
  4. A special accommodation, such as taking a photograph of his homework or submitting homework via email to eliminate that extra step in class the next day.
  5. Communication! You can build it into your 504 Plan to have the teacher reach out to you promptly if a certain number of assignments are missing or your son’s grades have dropped to a certain GPA.

[Free Download: Sample Letter to Request an IEP or 504 Plan Evaluation]

You can also talk with your son’s team about having extended deadlines for turning in assignments if your son is feeling overloaded and overwhelmed. And many schools offer a second set of textbooks to keep at home to ensure the student has what they need to do homework.

As your son gets older, you may find that the 504 Plan simply isn’t enough. Then you may need to move to an IEP, which gives you more tools to help support your son’s educational needs and stronger requirements for following the ADHD accommodations. Remember, any accommodation that makes it more likely your son will succeed is worth putting in writing!

It sounds like you’re doing all you can from your end. Hang in there, FrustratedMom.

504 Plan: Next Steps

ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!

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