Two days into school and the homework tears and battles have begun.
Drew had a summer assignment that involved reading. His least favorite thing to do, which wrenches my gut because I love to read! He read one book, Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. I read it too. Just so that I could talk to him about it. I loved the story. Drew of course, “hated it.” He kept crying in frustration that he didn’t understand it. The story was written in free verse and had a lot of Spanish terms in it and since Drew has a difficult time with “typical” writing, it just confused him. When he gets frustrated, he loses it and it is like talking him down off a ledge to bring him back to normalcy.
Over the summer, when we got the assignments, there was a math packet and to do the reading. He worked on the math packet a little bit each day in August. All I can say about that is….there is a reason I don’t teach middle school math! I helped him as much as I could but had to defer to DJ for a lot of it!!
Drew came home from school the first day and told me that “I” had not given him the whole summer reading assignment. Apparently there was a page that went along with it that required quite a bit of work about the key concepts in the story. We never received that assignment but fortunately I was able to reach one of his teachers from last year who passed along the assignment and for the last two days we have been working on it together. Doing it alone was getting him nowhere except to the point of tears.
When he gets this way, the two of us have to separate for a bit. I still haven’t found a method for helping him deal with this homework anxiety – and I am a teacher!! You would think that I would have some tips and tricks up my sleeve but I don’t. None that work for him at least. I tell parents who come to me with their own homework frustrations that I can teach 23 kids on a daily basis but when it comes down to one to one time with my own boys and their work, I feel like anything I say or do is wrong.
I wish there was a way to calm this anxiety. It has been one of the most difficult thing about his schooling. There are so many pros and cons about homework and the value of it. The debate has been going on for years. I go back and forth with it myself. As a teacher, I see the value in it but as a parent, I also see some of the opposing issues. I found this list of pros and cons on eduflow.com
- Homework helps to consolidate and clarify what was learned during the school day.
- It gives practice with content, concepts and skills.
- Homework improves performance in standardized tests.
- It is an extension of classwork that allows students to achieve mastery of the content or skills to be learned.
- Students do not have enough time during the day to fully understand all the information they are given.
- Homework facilitates rote learning.
- It lets parents see what their children are doing at school.
- Homework teaches self-discipline, time management and research skills.
- It reduces time for TV and video games and promotes good study habits.
- It increases interest in schoolwork when it is corrected quickly.
- Homework must be corrected quickly or students get frustrated and lose interest.
- It can be too burdensome and stressful at times.
- Homework disturbs family life and prevents students from doing household chores.
- Parents or relatives may do the homework for the student.
- Students need time to relax, play and pursue sports and hobbies.
- Homework can make students too tired after a long day at school.
- It keeps them up too late at night.
- Homework is often meaningless busywork which does not promote real learning.
- Students from middle- and upper-class homes have better resources to help them with homework.
and this great quote by Kenneth Barrish, Phd,
“For children with learning difficulties, doing their homework is like running with a sprained ankle: It is possible, although painful, and he will look for ways to avoid or postpone this painful and discouraging task.”
Once he gets back into the routine of school, and meets the teachers that will work with him in his inclusion classes, I know that he will start to feel less frustrated. At least three times today he mentioned that to me. He is looking for guidance, (and not from his mom.) The worst thing I want for Drew is for him to get frustrated. He had a great school year last year and the teachers were more than willing to work with him and with me to ensure that he benefited from his classwork and homework as much as possible. I am hopeful that this year’s team will do the same. Day three is tomorrow. I am already braced for the homework battle…