The Homework Blues

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by Telina Knight

Homework. That word really makes me cringe. To me, it's equivalent to phrases like “Charge!” or “Forward MARCH!” You know, battle cries. Because that's what homework means at my house—a battle between my son, his pencil, me, and that dreaded piece of paper that is Cooper's take home assignment.

I have mad respect for Cooper's special education teacher and his speech therapist. I have no idea how they do it, but somehow they get my son to practice his ABC's, 123's, and language skills every day. I, however, am not so successful.

One of our biggest hurdles with homework is the actual writing part. It appears my child may be ambidextrous, as he has shown almost equal strength in both hands and neither favors the right or left. As for me and my husband, I'm a lefty, he's a righty. I often blame ourselves for the confusion over which hand Cooper writes with best. His special education teacher advised us to lay the pencil down in front of Cooper to allow him to choose which hand he picks it up with. She insists that he picks it up with his right hand when he's at school, but when we do homework, for me, he chooses his left. We've speculated that he does this because he watches me write with my left hand, therefore deciding he must write with that hand as well. The fact that Cooper has developmental delays in cognitive, physical, communication, and social skills makes it much harder for Cooper to express to us what he thinks works best.

Homework frustration

Despite his delays, Cooper is incredibly smart, which is why I believe he gets so frustrated when he suddenly has trouble writing letters or trying to sound out words. He knows what he wants to say, but he can't get it out, so he gets upset. Nearly every homework session is interrupted at least once because Cooper gets frustrated and refuses to do anymore work. Then, my husband and I have to talk to him and coax him back into continuing his work.

Cooper's quest to conquer his developmental delays has been a learning experience for all of us, and we're still in the beginning stages. Sometimes we have to get pretty creative to get Cooper to sit down long enough to read flash cards or practice writing. One positive aspect that's come from the never-ending homework battle? It forces the three of us (Cooper, my husband, and I) to work together. I always wait for my husband to come home from work before starting homework or extra practice work. This way, we tackle homework as a team. Sometimes, when Cooper is frustrated and doesn't want to do anymore work, all it takes is the other parent taking over for a bit.

Help With Homework

I strongly advise having a partner to help you help your child with homework, be it a spouse, life partner, grandparent, older child, or friend. Having someone there to 'back you up” and offer a different view on how to achieve an assignment is beneficial for both you and your child.

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