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Friday, September 14, 2012

Got The Homework Blues

It's Friday, and you can't know how glad I am about that. Not only is the workweek ending, but as of yet, neither of my kids get homework over the weekends.

Thank God.

This school year has been a real challenge, and we're not even a month into it here. David is in 3rd grade now, and here they follow the "Everyday Mathematics" program. In 3rd grade, they begin a new "spiral" of learning - that means they're out basics and skill drills and into putting it all together in more complex manners.

Ohhhhhhhhhh no.

Math has always been difficult for David. He can add and subtract the basics, with some prodding, but he needs to either have memorized it or he needs to see it on a grid or a number line. Like most children with autism, he's a visual learner. It's been a real chore just to get him drilling on the basics. When they start to get into abstract concepts, we might as well be speaking Greek. Greater than? Less than? No frame of reference. Too abstract.

Last year, he was behind every marking period on the benchmark of "adding 0-10" because he couldn't understand zero. When you're adding something, you should be adding something. Zero is nothing. How are you adding when it doesn't change? The same with subtraction. He finally just memorized that when a zero is involved, nothing changes. And it took all year to get him to do that.

Now we're talking about mean, median and mode and reading paragraph-long number problems full of words that are a jumble to him. It's irritating him in the extreme, and his frustration is palpable. I have to stop a few times and let him release a storm of tears, then walk around and release his frustrations a bit before we can continue.

And it's only going to get harder.

Then there's Anna. I've been so spoiled with her. One of the blessings of having a gifted child is that she's always done her homework in class or on the bus ride home. I haven't had to sit and do homework with Anna since kindergarten. She's in her second year of middle school now, and that's changing. She usually gets it done in class, but now she's got more volume coming in and a few papers have been coming through. And when she asks me something I realize (a) just how long it's been since I had to learn this stuff and (b) how dependent I am on Google.

I swear, most days it feels like my kids are getting smarter and I'm just getting older and dumber. Is that proper grammar? Dumber? I feel even dumberer for writing it. I suppose I should say I feel more dumb. More dumb than usual, I mean.

Maybe I should just stop here.

I'll just be grateful for a weekend without tears or reminders of my own failings as a parent.

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