Let’s talk about homework.
I was one of those odd children who used to beg for homework at primary school. Back in the good old 1980’s we weren’t given homework in primary. It just wasn’t the done thing. I remember being excited that I had maths homework to take home when I’d asked for it aged 7 or 8.
Now in progressive 2016 kids are given homework from their first day of school.
I’m a great believer in learning being fun. I find learning easy, always have done. I love to learn. I’ve never really had to struggle with work unless it was physics…and that was only because I wanted to know why these things happened. Once I stopped asking why and just learnt the physics’ facts, I achieved an A. Not because I excelled but because I had the ability to retain facts and figures and could apply them to situations.
Being the parent of a child with SEN makes homework a whole different game.
Evie is so tired when she comes home from school, I often struggle to get her to do anything for me, let alone sit and do homework.
Often when kids with additional needs come home, they relax and when they relax their behaviours at having been constrained for the day, run full throttle. It’s hard to manage homework at times like that. It literally takes a back seat.
Evie’s school have always been understanding of these things. The homework is adapted to her abilities. She is beginning to use scissors to cut along lines, she has numbers on a sheet of paper, she cuts them out, she chooses the right number in answer to a sum and she glues the right answer in place. It’s perfect for her.
Sometimes this works like a dream and other times she isn’t remotely interested and the homework battle begins.
I know from friends that not every school adapts their homework to the abilities of the child with SEN. Often the homework that has been set is so complicated that a child without SEN would struggle. Yet this piece of work hasn’t been adapted to the child with SEN. That’s wrong. It’s unfair and it certainly isn’t inclusive.
Evie generally follows what her school friends are doing. She has her own work to follow too, but she is always included in the same work…simply adapted to what she can do.
This way she is included. She is part of the school community and she doesn’t feel isolated.
Whilst Evie may have SEN she is socially astute. She knows when someone treats her differently. She may not be able to verbalise this yet, but her behaviour illustrates her confusion and frustration.
As a parent if my child’s school weren’t setting appropriate homework I would worry. Parents rightly would begin to be infuriated and irritated. The school have the job to teach…as parents we support obviously. It’s a partnership. But to set the child something that was so obviously inappropriate, well, questions would be begin to whirl…
1. Do they understand her?
2. Do they know what she is capable of?
3. Do they want her there?
4. Are they looking after her properly?
5. Can we trust them?
6. Is this school the best place for her?
7. Is it our fault that she can’t do it; should we be doing more?
And then the guilt sets in and the stress.
How do we approach the school?
Who is best to talk to?
What if they don’t help or dismiss us?
What will they be thinking about my child?
Will they treat her differently because I’ve called their teaching into question?
When the trust between a parent and a school starts to recede, it’s easy to see that it could spiral beyond control.
You see being a parent of any child is stressful…one with SEN even more so. You have to have a relationship with the school for your child to get the best out of it. We have to trust the school to tell us what is happening.
Evie can’t really tell me what’s going on in her day. When she does tell me things, I don’t even know if they’re true. I check with other parents about things that she said has happened…a child being taken to hospital in an ambulance after slipping on a sandwich wasn’t true, nor all of the blood she claimed to have seen! Great imagination though!
I’m lucky that I can message other parents at her mainstream school to chat about what’s happened. It helps me to build a bigger picture of her day. Yes we get brilliant feedback from her 1:1 but it’s lovely getting the kids’ perspectives about “What Evie did”.
Our children are our most precious possessions. Yes, we do possess them as they possess us. They are our greatest achievements.