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Monday, 12 May 2014

Today's mystery - Homework

So my 8 year old daughter is lying on the sofa kicking up her legs, shouting 'I can't do it' 'It's too hard' 'take me hoursss' and wailing as if keening for a lost relative. It is homework.

I have given up this evening. Homework takes a long, long time in our house and right at that second I wasn't up for it, I was reading a book. (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, it's very good by the way). This is a terrible thing to admit, I'm sorry, I have a child with special needs and sometimes it can get a bit annoying. Usually my way of dealing with this is to have patience. I wait. But it carries on, so I get up and mentally prepare myself for the onslaught. But it's not about the tantrum really, it's more than that. It's the frustration for her of not getting it straight away and for me putting on my 'teacher' hat and spending at least half an hour explaining in pictures, gestures and repeating, what is expected of her.

Today wasn't a straightforward topice either - 'Write instructions on how to build a parachute for an egg'. Well. Parachute took a while, 'Do you know what a parachute is?', 'Yes it's when you...' cue much miming of jumping out of aeroplane, opening rucksack and plummeting to the earth. That wasn't so bad, but 'parachute for an egg'? After about five more minutes of miming and laughing it became clear she thought the task was to give instructions to a special forces Para who has an egg on his back or on top of his rucksack, he has to balance it, perhaps or stick it on his head. Because the difficult word turns out not to be 'parachute' or 'egg' but 'for'. And so it had been a good fifteen minutes of this entertaining game of charades before we got around to 'writing instructions'. And then I was tired. And wanted to read 'Gone Girl' (it really is a very, very good book). Given the histrionics that ensued, after finally getting to the point of explanation and facing another tantrum, I announced she would have to try to do it herself, by herself. Because she is capable and I want her to try at the very least.

I gave myself 5 minutes before guilt was creeping in and moving me back downstairs to patiently run over the task again. And again. But no. There was a knock at the door. 'It only 5 minutes' a bright little voice pipes up. She has, in fact, managed the first draft without too much effort, and even made the parachute out of string and paper. Though the instructions were headed 'ingrdins' or 'ingredients' we were at least on the right track. It was remarkably painless in the end, after two drafts more and a bunch of spellings to redo. Sometimes I think it's all going to be fine, and then I remember. One year to choosing secondary school, and they are expecting her to go to mainstream?

Since then we have requested and received easier homework after another painful evening with a three hour trudge through understanding what a 'timeline' is. But the homework is now too easy! At least she can do it mainly by herself. It's a time at the moment I'm not sure whether a mainstream setting is suitable, it's time for the research and long hard consideration of what to do for the best.

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