We all know how hard homework can be, those of you who are parents or remember it from your school years. Well, here at Family of 4, we are facing one little girl who does not want to do her homework.
Part of it I attribute to the ADHD brain and not being able to focus. Part of it is she just doesn't want to do it. I'm having some issues as her report card came out last week (BGA) and in the section for homework, it was marked for the VERY first time ever, "Unsatisfactory." I think my jaw dropped and I was really surprised when I saw that U on her report card.
A bit of background..............BGA's teacher is a bit older, she sort of reminds me of a 'lived hard' sort of person. I can't really describe it in more detail, but I'm sure you know what I mean. Little details have come home with BGA about her teacher and her life, etc. I know way more than I thought I'd know about her teacher, but I think that is what teacher's do these days, they relate their life experiences to the kids they are teaching. At least that has been the experience here in our section of N CA and our school district. Not to say this isn't bad, but some of the life choices teachers discuss, in my child's case I really would like to be able to know ahead of time to talk to BGA about it.
SO...........you might remember that BGA's teacher was very glowing in her reports about her right before Christmas, telling me that she never gave her any problems, other than she likes to chat (and according to her report card, becomes involved in 5th grade girl drama......part of that is my fault, after listening to it and BGA not heeding any advice I gave her, I told her to talk to her teacher about it, since it was occuring at school..........so, ahem, that might be why she has that on her report card and I probably should not have given that advice). There was a previous mention to the teacher, in a note, that asked if BGA was supposed to be doing a whole page on her reading summaries (after BGA told me that she didn't need to). Note was answered back that teacher does not always give homework. So I assumed when I asked BGA if she had homework (and we all know what assume can mean, don't we? Egg on my face most definitely) she would say yes, "I need to read a book and draw a picture." Or "No I don't have math today." So assuming, (based on what the teacher wrote) she had no homework, we would proceed on to our afternoon. I would make sure she did at least read a half hour, though.
Imagine my surprise when the report card comes back and says that she has a "U" for not turning in homework! I immediately write a note asking what we can do to help her remember, stating that last year this was a VERY big issue and her teacher kept wanting her to be organized (last year's teacher was a bit milquetoast in my opinion but we dealt the best we could with it) and insisting that she MUST have an afternoon booster ADHD med to focus. We never did get it set up for pm at school as I was not sure it was the way to go. I have asked this year's teacher repeatedly if we need to add in the pm booster med to help her. Teacher has not replied, but then BGA said, "I don't want to take my meds at school"and this is mainly because no one else in her class (as opposed to last year) takes meds in school.
I get the very flowery handwritten note back from the teacher. It first tells me "don't worry." Well, I really do not appreciate that as I'm getting to see I know more about ADHD than this teacher does and I can see we will have a battle on our hands to get what we need. Don't get me wrong, I like this teacher and she has had a very positive impact on BGA this year for which I am extremely greatful. BGA had to endure a new school and leaving her friends of 4 yrs behind so having a teacher that knows '5th grade' drama as well as she does, and has daughters, really has helped. She gets BGA and I am SO glad for that this year.
The note proceeds to tell me that I should not worry about BGA and that she's "a treasure, a real prize" and "you have done a fabulous job with her." I appreciated that very much. If you have read this blog or the previous one for any length of time you know how much we have all gone through to get where we are now. It also states that she does not know what a "pm booster" is and that she thinks we are ok for now. Clearly we are not, but how much of a fight is this going to be? I write back and tell her what a pm booster med is (ADHD small dose of meds given in the pm to help with focus and hyperactivity till bedtime) and thank her for her comments.
It's decided by Dave, the teacher and I, that we will put BGA on a homework contract. So far it's working well, and she's either writing down her homework or the teacher is and signs off each day on it. Then of course we make sure she does homework and then we sign off on it and BGA returns it. All electronic devices have been taken away and will not be used (even though they were sparingly used, like when I needed to have peace to cook dinner and two girls were fighting, before dinner) at all until the "U" is brought up to an "S" (completely bypassing the "P" for progressing). BGA is not happy, however, she contributed to it so there is the consequence.
But..........that being said, I am a bit peeved at the teacher. My 80something aunt, a former 4th grade teacher, pointed out that there should have been some idea that homework was not being turned in and that there was an issue so it could be addressed before report cards came out........uh, yeah, I agree. Why were we not told of this, so we could work on it before report cards came out? Also this teacher has done NO parent teacher conferences at all. So we have no idea where BGA really is, other than her grade in math also slipped (she might need a tutor) quite a bit. Our former first grade teacher at the previous school (who previously taught 1st grade then got moved to 5th last year and BGA started out in her class till she got bumped due to the class being full) said 5th grade is when the grades start to slip, so I'm sure that and going to a new school, trying to find where she fits, friend wise, has a lot to do with it. So we didn't say too much to her, other than we might need a tutor to bring up her math homework and she would need to bring it home and complete it.
The first part of 2013 has been working on homework each night and it's getting longer and longer, as I work with LGA on her homework (and she is doing fabulously as she got an "O" for outstanding on her homework) and BGA works with Dave on hers. BGA, early on learned to act like she could not do homework which would frustrate us completely (when clearly she could as she would do one problem correctly and then claim she couldn't do another one just like it). The first inkling we got was at age 6 when she could barely read and we thought we needed a tutor. So I asked her first grade reading teacher if she felt we should sign BGA up with a tutor. Her response? "What??? She's the best reader I have in my class!" So that has been the pattern, seeking out the negative attention for homework. Dave gets frustrated because he knows when she does and doesn't know it. Homework is a struggle. And so to avoid the struggle, she chose not to bring her homework home. Evidently the teacher found a few students lacking, as there are a few 5th graders on homework contracts.
Both girls are attending after school Girl Scouts on campus so one day a week I get two whole extra hours to myself, and I've been enjoying it immensely. No having to rush back to pick BGA up (LGA gets the bus). Last week was the first week and LGA's teacher attended with LGA and another girl and this week, LGA's 'semi' friend (they have a love hate relationship with each other, and the girl is autistic I believe) attended and the GS leader told me that they have to redirect and ask LGA to listen a lot, but that they felt it would be ok. I told them if they need me to be there to help I would, they could call me, but the leader assured me it would be ok. LGA enjoys it so I really hope it is something we can keep her in. I know that girls in another troop won't be as kind to her so we will stick to the school troop, and the leader says she likes working with the younger kids. I am hoping she can be a helper. BGA enjoys it too, so I'm glad she got to go. She thought she missed the sign ups and would not get to go for the first time in 4 yrs, but the sign up sheet came home after the break and she was estatic. I would think of putting her in another troop but I really think the school exposure is good for her and the right fit so we will stick with it. And I really enjoy that extra two hours once a week! The first two years BGA attended at her previous school the troop met after school, but then switched to the lunch break, which really shorted them some time. This new school they meet after school. They will get to sell cookies for the first time also. I don't have vests for them, but they do earn patches (I can't remember where the patches are though..........need to find them and see about getting them vests). I really don't want to get too involved in it, so I am really hoping it can just be a school troop for them. They do have breaks where the kids can go to a day camp when school is out, so we might do that too, now that LGA is old enough.
That is the start of our 2013 so far........homework. The dreaded homework. Hoping to get into a groove soon. I'm also trying to find my way in 2013 for myself, not sure where to start though. I want to do something for myself but can't quite figure out what it is yet, but I know it's out there.