Sunday, October 18, 2009
Taming the Homework Monster
Before I was married, I didn't believe I would be anything other than a No-Shit Mom.
Okay, this is the second time I used an inappropriate word on my blog and so I apologize if anyone is offended but some words just say it all.
My kid was going to study, I told myself up until he was born. He would not be spoiled. And he would be able to speak at least three languages, one of them being Mandarin Chinese. (By the way, I am not Chinese American)
Even when you have typical children, I'm sure parents laugh at themselves when they compare their pre-baby goals to their actual goals after birth. Gosh, now my goals are not even anywhere close to him being multilingual! My goals are more like: Logan will stay in his seat for five minutes without being told to do so. and Logan will make one non-school friend by the end of 2009. Of course, now I must share my personal goal which of course is: Jenn will no longer need anti-anxiety medication after 2010 and/or lose 20 pounds.
Anyway, this year Logan is in Big School and with that I am dragged into the world of Homework Hell. Ohmigosh, this No-Shit Mom is no match for the ADHD Homework Monster. The Homework Monster has daily ways to annoy you so much that in twenty minutes, you don't care if your child wrote the letter "b" or "d." Just get it done and go to sleep! Argh!
But alas, No-Shit Mom is not dead in me. She is still alive and breathing somewhere in my psyche and will not let me give up. Somehow, she lets me believe that he can be a lot of things and he can be as smart as he can be and wants to be.
With that, I have tried to be mindful of what we need to make homework a positive experience because for the past few weeks, homework has been so taxing. It took me several weeks to come to this point but here is what I've done.
1. Clean up! Holy cow. I'm still a slob but I know that Logan appreciates neatness. When Logan wrote a Thank You card to my sister-in-law after we visited her place, he wrote, "Dear Auntie, Thank you for letting us play in your home. Your house is very neat...." My sister-in-law's apartment is indeed immaculate and I think Logan loves that so today I went to Staples and bought more office supplies to organize my files on the dining table where I work and where Logan does his homework.
2. Use a "Parking lot": I use this Parking Lot when avoiding a tantrum that I don't have time for but now I use it to make him focus. He used to ask me a lot of questions and make comments when he did his homework but now I write them down in a Parking Lot and he then clams up and stays on task. I am currently trying to make it not so negative because I really do want to encourage thoughts and ideas even though he has too many of them.
3. Respect his homework: Logan's kindergarten homework is all on worksheets and so I have been collecting them so I can see how his writing improves and the challenging work increase. I also did this because I actually don't know what to do with all these pieces of paper!!! I feel bad throwing them away. I also want him to know that I value his homework and hope he'll look at it from time to time and be proud of himself.
4. Make a homework checklist: (see picture) I did this because the Checklist gives me a little more patience and I think it relieves some of his anxiety. He seems less overwhelmed. I just printed a checklist on paper and laminated it. He can then check the boxes with a dry-erase marker whenever he does a task. I should have added colors and pictures to this but I got lazy. I also like it because my husband can now do homework with him without feeling like he's doing something wrong.
5. Remember that homework connects me to his academic life: Logan amazes me when he is asked to draw a picture starting with a particular letter. For example, for the letter "s" he draws someone sitting or standing but never a noun like sun or strawberry or star. Isn't that interesting? They are always moving, even in their language. He also does this assignment really fast. I also see how it is hard for him to read a book when the pictures are really detailed and there is a lot going on.
6. Fix my attitude and take baby steps: I am sooooo impatient and I can see it moreso during homework time. I really need to figure out how to slowly transition him to working more on his own. I think if I was organized about my expectations, I could be more patient.
So far, these interventions seem to be helping, especially the homework chart. He really likes that one. It only cost me a dollar to laminate it. What would special needs families do without Staples????