Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What Does "No Homework" Really Mean?

I used to LOATHE doing homework with James!  He would tantrum for hours over putting 5 words in ABC order or doing 3 addition problems.  I have requested countless IEPs to discuss homework modification. I have been a strong advocate for teaching kids at school and allowing them to have time to just be kids at home.  I have spent so many years dreading the minute James walked through the door knowing that the next 30 minutes - 4 hours were going to be a living H E double hockey stick time!  Fast forward to August 2016.  I am not sure what happened but time at home supplementing what has been done at school is now a pretty special time.

The following is an actual recap of the class from my son's teacher's website,

"Today, we reviewed percents, decimals and fractions.  It has been a while since we have had a full day without MAP testing, so I wanted to go over the material again.  We will be reviewing this information tomorrow and have a quiz on it by Wednesday. ​NO HOMEWORK" (Thank you Mr. H. I chatted with him briefly when I picked James up today and he said that there is no homework but that doesn't mean James can't study.  Huh... is that going to be the next battle in my house?  I think I will stick to not telling James we are studying and continue what we are doing because it is working.)

Most kids would probably dance a jig when told there was no homework but for James, that doesn't apply.  No homework in our house just means that there is no formal homework but there is Mum work.  We go over vocabulary learned in Science, and currently we are tirelessly going from decimals to percents, percents to fractions, fractions to decimals and every combination that can be done until James doesn't even need to think about the process.  James reads and is read to.  We do about an hour every day after school as soon as he gets home.  It is working because James is doing very well.  

This is the picture I think of
when James does his best
Not every kid with Autism is like James.  But it doesn't matter if your kid is in preschool or high school or a special day class or a regular class with or without supports; every kid can do some kind of Mum work, Dad work, Grandma or Granddad work when the backpack gets dumped in the hall.  It could be learning a new PECS word, hanging their coat up and placing their shoes neatly in the hall, matching colors, sorting silverware, listening to a story and pointing to a picture in a book, memorizing multiplication tables, or unraveling the mysteries of Shakespeare.  EVERY kid on the spectrum is capable of great things!  Just don't be fooled; most but not all, will require additional support from the home team.  

Even if his brain is giving him the silent
treatment, it is often willing to spend
time thinking, learning and becoming
the best student he can be
To be a successful home team takes planning, research, great communication with teachers and other school personnel, and sometimes the patience of Sisyphus. Start small; 2-3 minutes for each subject, and work your way up to 15-20 minutes.  Put it on your child's schedule, (Unless it is on his schedule, James won't do anything without me knowing how unhappy he is about it.) Take many breaks, have finger snacks available, invite a lovey to the table for comfort and settle in.  In the beginning, you child might need a lot of support.  Give them the support they need to answer the questions and feel proud of their accomplishments.  I promise that in time, your child WILL become more independent.  James and I have been working on this plan for many years and we have finally found a place where all I have to do is set the timer and let him go at it.  Sometimes he wants me to correct as he goes, and that little extra support is usually all it takes for him to finish the Mum work in good spirits.