Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Students with disabilities and the homework thing

We got a form home last week from Max's new math and English teacher about homework to fill out.

Did we want our child to have homework? ONE HUNDRED PERCENT YES. (I just circled "yes.")

Did we want the homework to be daily? Yes.

Did we want the homework sent home every afternoon or on Mondays and returned on Friday?
I chose to get it all on Monday, which is wonderful thing for a working parent as some evenings I am able to do homework with Max earlier, which is better for him.

But as is my way, I started thinking about the whole homework thing. I know why the teacher asked whether the students should get any, as it was explained to me by a social worker when Max first started at the school and I expressed surprise that it was an option. She noted that some parents felt that their students were pretty wiped out by the end of the day, and homework wasn't something they could handle.

There's a longtime debate about the efficacy of homework and students of all abilities. One meta-analysis of studies, as reported by Time, found a correlation between homework and achievement, especially with older students. It can also help instill good study habits and boost problem-solving skills. Yet there are studies that have pointed to homework hindering family time and downtime, and causing physical and emotional fatigue.

Luckily, at Max's school there is a choice.

The truth is, Max can be pretty pooped by early evening. But if I am holding him to the same standard as I do his sister, who is also in high school, he should be getting homework. And if I hold Max up to the his own standards, well, he needs homework. He learns best through repetition. Homework enables me to see where he's struggling and to reach out to the teacher for suggestions.

Math does not come easily to him; like Max, I struggled with it in school, so I relate. He is acing spelling and reading, and can do work pages independently (we use the SnapType app), but not math ones. Coming home from work and poring over addition problems at 7:30 or 8:00 isn't always the easiest thing for either of us, especially if I can't find a way to occupy Ben (sometimes, I ask him to draw in a coloring book and say that's his "homework" and sometimes, he just wants to do laps around the house). But I signed up for this parenting gig and so, there we sit at the kitchen table.

Max is usually cool with doing homework, especially his Weekend News reports so he can talk about going out for yet another steak dinner (his current food obsession) and drop in a mention of his plan to move to L.A. Homework gives him confidence. When he readily knows an answer on a worksheet, a smile will light up his face.

"That's easy!" he'll say.

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Thanks for sharing!

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