Guest Author - Vicki McCarthy
Homework is always a contentious area for parents. In fact it’s almost guaranteed to create stress and tension within the home and can be an uphill struggle for parents of children with special needs given that school is essentially more difficult for them and they may be more stressed after the school day than their peers.
Knowing that the school day can be tough enough for special needs children, it begins to make sense that they may become obstructive when they are asked to continue their school day within their family home. For many children with developmental difficulties - home is home and school is school and ‘never the twain shall meet’. They just can’t comprehend why they would ever need to do homework. It just doesn’t make sense to many of them.
However, homework is like an institution – it’s always been there, we’ve always done it and we feel we need to keep doing it. But do we really? Is it just an added pressure for the child, parents and the teachers who have to mark it? Maybe it’s time we rethought the whole issue.
My own experience of trying to encourage my daughter to do her homework when she was so against it, resulted in frustration, tears and a few sleepless nights (mostly mine). Until I was forced to ask myself was it really worth all the upset. She would tell me it was difficult enough to get through the school day without having to do more work at home. I eventually listened and spoke with her special needs teachers who were open and willing enough to accept that perhaps homework wasn’t the answer for her. The result – she’s more switched on to learning because the pressure is off and our family life is so much happier.
Now granted there are some children who seem to be ok with homework and thrive from the challenge. If they are happy to do it then of course they should be encouraged. But what about those children who struggle with it? Maybe we should stop forcing them into doing something they clearly don’t want to do and accept that when the school day is over so is the school work.
Many forward thinking teachers are beginning to look at this issue and looking at children on an individual basis, taking into account the effect their special needs may have on their ability to do homework, thus making life so much easier for the child, their parents and the teacher themselves. After all, how many of us really like to take work home with us after a busy day at work?