Sunday, September 8, 2019

Is homework worth the mental anguish

After reading this article, it brought back memories of homework when in elementary school. I struggled with homework especially in second grade. I was in a special education classroom but mainstreamed for social studies and mathematics. I was constantly moving, which was great for me. There was no such thing as movement breaks in the 1980's but my schedule at the school allowed for it.

This was just after I was diagnosed with ADHD in 1988. I was put in a self contained class. There were about 10 students, including me in my class. With the second grade work came homework from both classes. I had an IEP. I did find it and it did not have any accommodations for homework.

I had about an hour of homework for a typical child. At the time I was considered only ADHD. It took me at least three hours. There was a lot of stimming in between questions or problems. This consisted of dancing in my room to the music in my head, squishing my stuffies, etc.  Of course when my abusive mother walked in the room, I usually got beaten or humiliated in front of my brothers and father. Her favorite thing was to have my brother do my homework for me. My brother is two years younger than me and she loved to rub it in that he was more advance than me. (One thing I never do as a parent, is compare one child to another. It is severely damaging.) My teacher promised me a unicorn stuffie if I did my homework all year. She teased me with it daily.

When I had a hard time getting my homework done, I was made an example of in my special ed class. The teacher would ask me if I got my homework done, I would say that I tried. She then moved my desk in the hallway. She made me miss all instruction and all special classes for the day. I was to finish the homework in the hallway. One thing that was helpful as a child was art class. I was made to miss art class and recess.  By today's standards, this would be considered abuse.

Because of this happening, I was overly stressed. This caused me to shut down and meltdown during ABA. The BCBA met us at home every day after school. I was doing homework after my ABA sessions. I was all pent up from ABA, I needed to stim afterwards.

When this happened over and over again, I melted down on the way home from school every day. Of course my mother said I was doing it for attention. That's what the BCBA told her to think.

Homework was literally killing me. I was very suicidal at that point. My parents were saying I just was attention seeking and used planned ignoring, an ABA technique.

I found out later that the other kids in my special ed class were passing out homework to me for classes I was mainstreamed for. I was not supposed to do that homework and the teacher pretended she didn't know. She blamed it on her disabled students.

This same teacher told me at eight years old I would never pass high school. Guess what? I have my Bachelors in Applied science of Veterinary Technology.

I never did get that stuffie. Looking back she gave me M and M candies every day I came in with all my homework. Classic ABA.

I am not saying all homework is bad. Know your child. If homework is bad for your child's mental health, get a modification at school. One of my children has a homework modification. If he is really struggling with it mentally, they are not to penalize him. That is available on a 504 an IEP.

Reading at home with your kids should count. It is great family time. Its relaxing and reading is improving if done as a family. It enriches the whole family experience. We do this with my large family often. Not every day but as often as we can.

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