The great homework debate

The great homework debate

Homework. Over the years since Poss started school, it’s been the bane of our lives. Every year there’s more than the year before, and every year we face the same struggles in trying to get her to do it.

There’s lots of research, and a movement among teachers and parents, that suggests it doesn’t add value, especially in the primary school years. Yet, we persist. Home work continues to come home, day after day, year after year.

Before we moved schools, I just put my foot down and said no. We negotiated hard, in fact I think it’s been in her ILP since we started having ILP’s. The stress just simply wasn’t worth it; even the mention of homework would result in tears. Tony Attwood was often quoted, with his stance on homework thrown up again and again as the source of truth for kids on the spectrum.

Home was a place for rest, a place to unwind after the day. It gave a clear break, a distinct zone, between the expectations of the school day, and the calming, safe place that we were trying to create home.

It sometimes meant school picked up the slack, with the homework being completed as extension work for Poss in class. Other times, she simply just didn’t do it. It certainly didn’t impact on her academic results either way.

Since moving across to the new school, we’ve made more of an effort. While the amount of homework isn’t any less, there’s more support provided for the kids to complete it. And with high school looming, it’s probably time that we tried to get her into sort of routine.

I’m not going to lie, the first year was hell. We got to the point where Poss’ aide would call me pretty much every day. We’d chat about what she might be struggling with, what she’d completed and what still needed to be done that week. She’d then follow up with Poss, giving both assistance and consequences when required.

It was a high maintenance way of getting it done, but it worked for us.

This year has been easier. The persistence and patience we put in last year has paid off. We still have to give her hands on support to make sure it’s completed each week, but it’s getting easier. I’m hopeful that by the end of next year she’ll be ready for high school, but if not, I know we’re at the right school to help us through it.

I’m proud of how far Poss has come with her homework, but I stand by the fact that she couldn’t have coped with it earlier.

There was simply too much other stuff going on. She needed the break, the true break, that home provided. Home needed to be school free, completely school free, so she could recharge and return to face a place that she was desperately unhappy every day.

There are still nights where we argue about homework, however most nights it’s not the inconsolable, distraught little girl we are dealing with, it’s a grumpy tween.

And if that little girl returns, we have a night off and spend time outside jumping on the trampoline, or just playing some Minecraft, knowing the routine is now strong enough to bounce back.

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  1. I had a really terrible time with homework for a lot of reasons, some of which I have blogged about in the past.

    I was pushed up a year in grade 5, and you started having to do homework in grade 6, so from the get-go I was really angry about the push up and I was very anti homework. My Mum says now if she could go back in time she would flat out refuse to allow them to push me up a grade. So I have to say a massive good on you for refusing to allow homework for Poss until you felt the time was right. 🙂

    One thing that would have worked for me would be charts and rewards, but very carefully done.

    It would be important for me to make the decisions around this – as in my parents would sit me down and say hey, we want to try and make doing homework more rewarding for you. What could we do that would make you want to do a regular homework session?

    I would suggest to them that we do it like this – either a daily reward eg 10 minutes of homework = x time of computer games – or 4-5 levels of weekend reward, which means even if I just did one homework session that week, I would still get rewarded for it on the weekend. And that is important because one session of homework still counts. I think I would suggest setting it at 4 because it is important to be able to have a sanity day, too, and if I have the option of saying this is the day I take off, I tend not to take that day.

    I’d make the homework sessions short – eg 15-20 minutes maximum.

    I would set a timer for the time – it would be important that I would be the one initiating this. Nobody sets my timer for me! 😉

    I’d want a massive, huge, sparkly chart on the wall where I would be able to tick off the day, and also stick on a cute sticker. But the ticking things off is also super important to me and I still do that every single day now. I have a day planner and the night before I put all the things I want to accomplish the next day onto the planner, and I tick them off as I complete them. If I complete them all, dessert achievement unlocked! I also tend to push myself further than what is written simply because I can. 🙂

  2. My seven year old is not a fan of homework and it’s always a struggle! I too believe there is so much good that comes from home being kept as a place for down time and for family connection, especially in the early years of school but as a teacher I know the reality of many, many parents insisting upon their child having homework!
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