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Getting back into the Groove...and the Homework Cloud!

Posted Sep 04 2009 8:12am

Well this has beenlet's just say .... an interesting week!

Wiiboy returned to schoolquestioned Santa's real identity and asked me if what he'd been told about how babies were made was true! The description was quite ...... em ..... precise and left nothing to the imagination! No room for manoeuvre as regards sugar-coating or editing the information I'm afraid. The damage has already been done!

The return to school went really well. He was relatively happy to go back although he said he hates school! He described it as "I'm excited's like one guy on my shoulder saying yay...exciting and another guy on my other shoulder (which is really me mum!) saying I HATE SCHOOL!!"

I thinklike most kidshe was ready to go back. Heagain like most kidscraved the structure that school offers. They need it and the rules and boundaries that go with it. Although no self-respecting kid would ever admit it! In all honesty they don't understand that's how they feel so they can't vocalise it.

He is now queueing in the senior yard and they've been told they're senior students now! At age 9! God love them. He loves queueing there but no longer wants me with him. Which makes me a little sad but it's time to loosen those apron strings!

Should I stay or should I go?

Do I just drop him at the gate and leave?

WellI wasn't quite happy with that. I took a look around at all the kids playing various football games with numerous footballs. In a crowded playground. With no adult supervision. How early are these kids dropped off at anyway? I realise the social activity and the releasing of energies before school is important but still. Wellit's important for them. Wiiboy chooses not to take partthankfully. It would have the potential to stress him out before he even starts. He's happy to stand in line and chat to some friends.

SoI decided I'd stay but at a distance and leave when he goes through the door. Then I thought : Am I being a hyper mum? Within two minutes of asking myself that question I almost got a ball in the face and then two boys head butted each other whilst going for the ball. One boy's head came up in a huge bump. Thank God there was an adult (Moi!) there to look after him. That made my mind up. I stay. Maintaining my distance of course.

The new teacher was a different new Teacher than the one I'd prepared him for and wiiboy coped well with the unexpected change. She seems really niceconfident and competent. Howevermy gauge for a good Teacher is : How accommodating is she? That question is about to be answeredin the very near future!

He settled in very wellduring the school day that is. The evenings are a different story however. Ohhow easy we forget how hard the settling in can be! Two steps forward and ten steps back! Or so it seems.

The Homework Cloud of Hell descended upon us again! I first discussed homework issues here and not much has changed since then I'm afraid to say! I guess you can consider this post as an update.

Our week started with two issues. One was when playing Runescape on computer one evening and the other was doing homework the next evening (even though homework had gone well the previous evening). Both issues made him very angry and he said some awful things. We had done some work earlier in the year on calming down after a previous angry session which I talked about here. Time to get out some more weapons of mass instruction so!!

So nowto solve these issues. We must start as we mean to go on. Set the ground rules for the long year aheadhence the need for weapons! I believe that the issues the ASD (incl ADDADHD and Dyspraxia) PDDNOS and whatever-you're-having-yourself kid faces when doing homework are
  • CONCENTRATION. Hard enough during the school day let alone sitting still for however long it takes to do homework.
  • ORGANISATION. As regards: Taking down the homework correctlybringing the right books home to complete the homework and finally organising themselves to actually do the homework.
  • COPING. With all the above and the individual issues that affect the child (e.g. writing skills) which makes doing homework that bit harder.

That's quite a lot for a young child to cope with isn't it?

The things that I believe the ASD etc kid needs to know are:

  • EXACTLY what's expected of him/her.
  • HOW LONG he/she has to spend on homework. Teachers should share this at the beginning of the year so there's no confusion. Our lovely new Teacher did exactly that!
  • YOU UNDERSTAND that it's difficult for him/her : "I Know this is hard for you......
  • HELP is available : ..... I can help youwhen you feel calmer.....
  • HOMEWORK MUST BE DONE : ....... because homework must be done "

Words in italics are what I say to wiiboy. I also re-enforce the last one (when he's ready to hear it) by saying " if it's not done you'll have to hand a note to Teacher explaining why it's not done." Most Teacher's request that the children hand up a note . I feel this places ownership of the situation and responsibility on the child.

In our casewiiboy is not taking down all the info required so when he tried to do the easy subject first (mathsof course!) we couldn't do it as he hadn't the page number written down (I had to text to get it). That was a bad start. It got worse when we opened the Geography and History books. The work was less structuredmore discussion basedthen write (red flag!) down your findings. What didn't help was that Teacher had given them more instructions which seemed to differ with what was written down so I was confused too! There was also quite a lot of homework.

It's been my experience that Teachers give quite a bit of homework but they don't always expect it all to be done .... they are open to negotiation especially when there are special circumstances. They are aware that some kids can complete 5 maths questions (that use the whole alphabet there's so many parts to them!) with no problems but they accept others can't. Although Maths is relatively easy ( as long as they're not the "wordy" questions!) for the ASD childsitting still and writing ( damn red flag again!) out the answers isn't. A solution might be thatrather than spend the 20 mins of allotted time on one Maths question the child could do an agreed number of sums from each questionthereby covering all concepts being revised that evening. If they can do the first few sums with no difficulty then there's no need to complete them all is there?

We all know that homework is important but it is just Revision of what's been taught that day. I reiterate my strong held belief that the ASD etc child has so much more to contend with . They've had a lot to process and cope with during the school day and need time to wind down. They also need time for the extra-curricular activities which have no doubt been chosen for the O.T. and Social Skills benefits they provide. They also need play time with a friend which provides more Social Skills. This cannot be under estimated.

And soto fix.

For that particular evening I just kept came repeating my words in italics above. When he eventually got back to the table I was able to keep him calm by showing him how I could helpand by sticking to the time limits . The message is: it's OK if it's not all done as long as you do the best you can. It took two and a half hours ( including breaks for tantrums and dinner!)to achieve 40 minutes of homework. The second message is that homework must be done.

I then put a note to Teacher in the daily communication diary ( so glad I kept that up!) explaining the difficulties making a suggestion and asking to meet. I subsequently got a lovely reply and I'll meet with her next week! So she'sreally niceconfidentcompetent AND accommodating! Excellent. You knowmost Teachers areparticularly when they see how interested and committed you are in helping your child reach his/her true potential.

Teacher and SNA can help by making sure that he's organised :he has all the info taken downcorrect books in bag ( in time he'll have to take responsibility for that himself) and understands exactly what's expected of him. As he's a visual learner I'm going to ask for any visuals that can be used or perhaps a diagram setting out what has to be done in the less structured homework might help. I will also be asking for guidelines each day as to what Teacher considers to be essential homework for wiiboy to complete so that his 45 minutes is wisely spent.

We already know how long to spend and I can help him to be organised at home. I got a great tip from a Rollercoaster thread and I'll make a visual step-by-step guide ( 1. take out Homework journal 2. Take out books etcetc.) Some great tips there... check it out!

I covered concentration (staying on task) and coping in my previous post linked above. We need some more help with coping with regards to the writing issues this year. Maybe mind maps again? He hasn't got the laptop yetI'm working on "acquiring" one though! I'm not quite sure how helpful it will be at homeas it'll take time for him to be proficient enough on it to complete homework.

To supplement all the above and to keep him on taskI decided to use his obsessions and set up a reward system. hence my new weapons above! I made

  • A check list. He loves getting check marks for good behaviours so I detailed the behaviours I expect from him: Getting off games when asked? check. Homework done? Check...etc. I also give a bonus one every day to highlight a particular good behaviour that day.

  • Pass cards. OhI do so love these! A little gem. You can see them in pictures above. If he wants to play on computer ( or wii) or nintendo dsi or watch TV he takes a pass which allows him 30 minutes play. He must have earned them and if it's a school day homework must be done first. After he's used a pass he must then do 30 minutes of free play ( e.g. trampoline or anything that doesn't have a screen!) Obviously he can only have a couple a day... say 2 of each ... to start off with.

It's working a treat! He loves them. It also helps that they use cards for toilet breaks in school too. Again it's giving him ownership of the situation and responsibility. Wiiboy has moved on from the token reward boards etc so this really works for him.

If you have a Homework Cloud hovering over your house then I hope you find this of some help.

Pleaseplease do talk to the Teacher ... they will accommodate you. Take ideas that you think will workuse them in conjunction with your child's interests and try to link them to what's used in school.

Hopefully then all our Homework clouds will dissipate ... just a little!

Take care. xx Jazzy
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