I believe Eric and I may be in the running for the title of meanest parents ever. I know, I know, everyone thinks we bend to the will of the mighty C and, to a large extent, they’re right. We run a Caleb centric household, partly because it’s easier to fight as few battles as possible and partly because we just love to make that little Monkey grin. So we
spoil indulge him a bit at times. Shut up.
A week ago something happened, I had a seemingly innocent conversation with a co-worker who has a child with significant special needs and, at one point, she brought up a topic and I swear laser beams shot from her eyes when she heard my response to her question. What could possibly result in that type of reaction? Homework. She asked me what type of homework Caleb does. My response was a very guilty, “None? Do they get homework in 2nd grade?” Oy vey. If it were possible to shoot laser beam eyes at myself, I would have.
It had truly, not once, ever crossed my mind that Caleb’s peers, the ones I’m SO determined that he be pushed to be like, might be doing something so advanced as homework. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have homework in 2nd grade beyond reading books I picked but it’s possible that I’m just not remembering it correctly. If my 1st grade teacher reads this she can correct my memory, I’m sure.
That evening I looked at Eric and asked him, “Do the other kids at school get homework?” I got the same deer-in-the-headlights look that I had given only a few hours earlier. It made me feel better to know it hadn’t crossed his mind either. “We need to ask. If they do, Caleb should.” I’m not sure he fully believed that, I know I sure wasn’t 100% sold either.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that if the other kids are doing homework, Caleb should be too. We have high hopes for future treatments so we really need to be setting the stage now to be sure he has good habits down the road, right? Also, it felt a little like cheating to be getting a pass on this when all the other parents of typical children don’t. lolololololololol! Don’t worry…that quickly passed because, honestly? Yeah, those parents of typical kids totally deserve at least some added hardship. Still kidding!
Actually, Eric and I have been doing homework for years already. Every weekend we have sent in a quick blurb about what Caleb did over the weekend and sometimes we sent in pictures for special events. This morphed into weekly pictures this year because his teacher has started using them to help Caleb write stories in the Writing Workshop portion of his day. It’s time spent with typical peers so we are willing to do whatever we can to make sure he has the materials he needs. Even when it makes me have a mini-meltdown. (See “Way too much pressure!” Many thanks to our fellow FX Mom Jeanie for talking me off the ledge on that one!)
So, late last week Eric brought up the subject with Caleb’s teacher. After she got over her shock that she had parents requesting homework for their child she decided it was a great idea and that she’s thrilled. Yay! There’s 1 out of 4! We talked a bit about what his homework might look like and she gave it some thought over the weekend. Her primary concern is that she doesn’t want it to feel like work for any of us, she doesn’t want it to be a struggle. Yay! Now 3 out of 4 of us were on the same page!
Today, she emailed us again.
Hi Eric and Melissa,
I am sending home a homework folder today for C. Inside you will find a book, “At the Park,” 5 sight word flashcards, and coins/bills (fake money..we always use the pretend money first). I think if he practices reading the sight words to you two or three times each that would be great. The story is very short, so he can also read that 1 or 2 times. You don’t need to prompt him for any of these activities, as he should be able to read all of these words and can read this story with about 90% accuracy. If he misses any words in the story, we always help him sound them out and have him reread the whole sentence. The more practice he has with reading sight words and short stories, the more fluent a reader he will become.
As for math tasks this week, let’s just stick to him identifying coins and bills. At school he is able to tell us the name of each coin and bill. We are working on him telling us the value now (5 cents, 10 dollars, etc.). This is more difficult because he needs to memorize which coin has each value. The bills are easy, as it says right on it how much it is worth. The prompts that we use at school when working with money are: “What is it?” and “How much is it worth?” Receptively, C knows all the coins/bills, but now we are working on him expressively saying the names and values of each. The most important thing is that he is labeling the coins, using the words “cent(s)” and “dollars.” You can simply hold up a coin or bill and prompt him to tell you what it is and how much it is worth. Since he is still learning the values, he may need help, You can tell him what the value is and have him repeat it.
I think this homework will be for the whole week. He can practice all three of these things each night. I hope this all makes sense. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Also, Ms. (Inclusion Teacher) gave me a copy of what her students are doing for homework this week. It is just for your information.
(Special Education Teacher)
Yes! Yes! Yes! Ohhhh…wait…really? Do we have to get a copy of what the typical students are doing?
I quickly e-mailed her back.
Hi Awesome Special Education Teacher Whom We Love,
Thank you for pulling this all together!
Can I be a total baby here and ask that the homework for the typical students not be included if it’s not necessary? We try very hard not to compare Caleb to his typical peers when it can be avoided. It’s really hard on us to see how far behind he is, I’d rather just focus on where he is at.
Please don’t take this as anything but me preferring ignorance when possible for my own emotions. I worry way too much about everything and C totally feeds off me!
Thanks again! I haven’t had homework in so long 😉
I’m a little worried she’ll feel badly or defensive over that request but considering that the most important, 4th and ultimate decider/participant, Caleb, isn’t yet even aware of what kind of hell is about to be unleashed upon him…I need the least amount of mental disturbance going into this as I can manage.
Please, wish me luck. I suspect this won’t go so well when I tell him that instead of a snack and his (nearly) naked computer time he gets to sit down and do homework. Also, please no one tell him that this was all my brilliant idea…