homework horror - FamilyEducation
homework horror
02/06/2012 at 20:06 PM

My son is in 5th grade, and has a disability in the area of communication (receptive and expressive). My problem really has to do with attitude, not learning. He has been having meltdowns at homework time. It is homework he has done before, and I know he can do it, there are times when I watch him and he does it fine. But too often he takes it out and the "I can't"s start...and then the tears come, and then it takes him hours. I have tried being supportive, talking him through it step by step, I have tried being firm "I know you can do this, I've seen you do it before". I have lost my patience and said "Just do it!" Homework that should take him 20 minutes if he would just sit and do it, is taking him an hour or more, with constant cajolling. I'm at my wits end, and can't see him possibly being able to handle middle school next year, at this rate!

Advice please?

This doesn't seem right for a child of his age. No child should be taking hours to complete homework after being in school all day. My suggestion would be to contact his teacher for suggestions on how to help him. She/He should have some techniques to help you help him or can recommend a tutor or a different course of homework of something. How long has this been going on?

The homework itself isn't taking him hours...it's the buildup of emotion...once he sits down to do it, it goes quickly. If he didn't get the attidtude, and just sat down to do it, he'd be fine.

Give him permission to do the work without the emotion. Here's a strategy you could try. First, write down how the scene usually goes. Have him help you with it. for example. "John comes home from school. Mom asks if he has homework. John describes his homework. John explains how lame it is that he has homework. John asks if he can play a video game. Mom says when the homework is done. John yells. John knocks books on the floor. Mom takes John by the shoulders and sits him at the table. Mom puts books from backpack on the table. John does the homework."

Have good humor while you develop this narrative. Laugh about it. Add in silly details like, "John and his pet elephant go for a jog to cool off." (cross off the silly ones.) Then, tell him you two will take turns circling the sentences that are required, and substituting sentences for the ones that are not required, or simply deleting them. You get to go first. Circle "John does the homework." Then give him a turn.

Hours of homework is too much. That can be fixed on your IEP or 504 plan. Regarding the breakdowns. Take a look at your child's day. Both my children have special needs. I found that when my child (one in 5th grade too) had breakdowns he was really struggling with some sensory issues. He was having little incidences at school and a child w/ sensory issues has a harder time recouping from each incidence. (An incidence could be your child tripped at school to being bullied) After so many incidences it is much harder to recoup and the child will have a meltdown at home because that is the release for them. Look into it. I had no idea my son had sensory issues until my youngest was diagnosed with Autism and I learned about this.