Proof Positive That Angels Can Benefit From Homework

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

by Sabrina L. Johnson |

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Homework \ Angelman Syndrome News \ A photo of Juliana's homework, including a picture book titled

Sabrina L. Johnson

Practice and repetition are important factors in helping Angels learn. My 11-year-old Angel, Juliana, completes Mom-appointed homework to reinforce what she learns at school. Homework also makes a strong connection between school and home.

The idea for homework for Juliana came from my 10-year-old daughter, Jessa. Jessa is a fifth-grader who can work independently. Juliana needs help to support her learning. One day as Jessa was doing her homework, she whined that, “Juliana is lucky she doesn’t have homework!”

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Practice makes progress

When I thought about what Jessa said, the wheels started turning. Jessa’s statement made a lot of sense. Why hadn’t I thought to give Juliana homework?

Juliana’s former teacher made countless resources available to support skills practice. In addition to things I had made, I had a ton of other items to use for the task. The other thing I have done for great resource material is to buy products that are identical to those she uses at school.

Homework \ Angelman Syndrome News \ Juliana's homework box, with picture cards and custom resources from a former teacher

To reinforce concepts from school, Juliana’s homework box includes picture cards and custom resources from her former teacher. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

When Juliana does homework, we work on one or two skills. Generally, we focus on one language and one math skill. I continue to use the old resources I have and rotate in any new worksheets they have used at school. We also read a book of her choice. For some added Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC, practice, we use her talker for her to say that we are all done with homework.

Homework \ Angelman Syndrome News \ Juliana relaxes on the carpeted floor of her house as her sister, Jessa, reads a story about having nice hands.

Cozy in her favorite spot, Juliana listens as her sister, Jessa, reads a story about having nice hands. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

The year that I added homework to our routine, Juliana’s teacher also began sending short homework assignments using picture exchange communication systems. The assignments were optional. However, since Juliana can experience skill regression, I was on board with the extra practice. We made the time to do the optional homework, and I think it was a good choice.

Having teachers and friends at your house

Juliana’s comfort with homework is why I didn’t panic too much during COVID-19 school closings. Like other families, we got creative to make the school-from-home arrangement work.

Initially, I had concerns about Juliana sitting still during online instruction, but her transition was flawless. Focusing and doing schoolwork at home was not a new concept for her. She was able to use the same skills for digital instruction.

Although she would start to fizzle out at lunchtime, Juliana was attentive to her teacher and did her work.

I think Juliana did so well during digital instruction because she was already doing work at home. The only differences were the new classroom in Daddy’s office and joining her friends and teachers online.

Homework \ Angelman Syndrome News \ Juliana hangs out in her classroom in her dad's home office.

Juliana hangs out in her classroom in her dad’s home office. Digital learning was an easier transition with Juliana’s adaptive chair and other materials from school. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

Because Angels are not always attentive, reinforcing skills at home is a great idea. Making the time, however, is tricky. Sometimes, I start the homework and my husband finishes. I also spread it out with breaks to do other things.

Like so many things in an Angel’s life, we just make it work. Finding the time for homework is well worth the long-term benefits I know the extra practice will bring.


Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.


Diana Kantor avatar

Diana Kantor



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