Tuesday, October 06, 2009


We had a really good weekend.

We had a lot of fun with the kids and Alex worked hard and got ALL of his work done with minimal whining. That in itself was amazing. I had hoped it would carry over into school yesterday.

But no.

He did nothing at school yesterday. And it's not that the work is confusing for him or too difficult--the two papers he brought home completely blank were handwriting. He had to copy the words or letters--already written on the paper--a certain number of times.

I gave him a little over an hour to work on it yesterday (thanks, BT!) and he got almost nothing done. So I sent a note to his teacher today telling her what had happened and asked that she give whatever consequences she thought would work best for him to get his work done. I also suggested one other thing she might try, so we'll see if she takes me up on it.

He has been told he will not go on his upcoming field trip if he is not doing his work. And if his Monday and Tuesday work is not done before this evening, he will not go to soccer practice which means he will not play on Saturday. It's a hard stance to take but we aren't sending him to school to play. He gets plenty of time to play at home.

In other news, I think Mark got a big kick out of watching me work with Alex on his flashcards last night. I told him I was about ready to assist in some further remodeling of our house by taking out some of our plaster walls. By banging my head on them. ;) A couple of the walls only need one or two good blows to bring them down, so I figured I could have taken several walls out last night. If I'm going to be frustrated, I might as well put it to good use!


Jane said...

Can I suggest you use a hammer rather than your head? It's probably more satisfying & you can avoid a trip to the ER (hopefully). Still, life with kids may be easier with a bit of brain damage yourself!!!!

MamaPoRuski said...

I know trying to find the balance of motivating your child, disciplining and rewarding is difficult at times! Praying the internal desire starts to click and he becomes passionate about learning! HUGS! God bless!

Erika said...

Way to multitask, remodel, release frustration, good job! Seriously though, I will be praying for you. It is so hard to feel like you are spinning your wheels no matter what area it is in.

Diana said...

BTDT many times. I'm really beginning to dislike school myself for this very reason. I can't stand the politics and the games that are behind it.

If you know it's work he is fully capable of doing, though, I'd honestly give him say 15 minutes at the most - which is more than a reasonable amount of time to complete a copying worksheet. Also let him know right up front what will happen if he chooses not to do it. After that time, remove all emotion from the situation, send the homework back to school as is with a note stating he was given ample time to do it, but he chose not to and you chose not to negatively engage with him over it. You can then let the chips fall where they may and how they may and let the school do the same.

As one who's BTDT, if he's taking an hour to "do homework" that you know is well within his capability level, it's all about control and attention...both from you and his teacher. Seriously, the more you can remove YOU from the equation, the less appeal his little games will have, therefore rendering them ineffective. It will also be a whole lot less frustrating for all of you in the end. Otherwise, you'll quickly find yourself stuck in a nasty snare that gets more and more and more difficult to get out of as time goes on. The quicker you get yourself and all your emotional investment out of the deal, the better off you'll all be.

I actually told the school flat out at the beginning of the year that I refused to engage in homework battles with my son. Their job is to educate and my job is to foster attachment and emotional healing. I can't do my job if we're engaged in a control battle over homework - especially when the homework they were sending home was 2 years above his ability level. I'll help him with it as long as it is something that is actually appropriate for his ability level, but I'll only do so as long as he's invested in it and not trying to drag me into a power struggle over it. The school was cool with that...except we found out at parent teacher conferences that they're still grading him on it and he scores in the "needs significant improvement" range. Whatever. I'm just glad I'm not a teacher. I would go absolutely bananas trying to balance the individual needs of all the students (and their parents.)

The balancing game is so not fun and it really is hard to know what to do...especially when very often what works today doesn't work tomorrow. Hang in there!

BT said...

Hello. I am following your saga of the school work struggle with a lot of interest because of the ups and downs we've been through on this. I know how much of a struggle it feels like, so know you are not alone in this!

To clarify something: We follow Love & Logic on the homework (or unfinished schoolwork) front. And, like Diana said, we have our son sit with his work ("you can do your work or think about doing it") for some length of time. We choose the length of time according to what the work looks like it should require plus a little bit of a buffer. So if it's two easy worksheets, we might ask him to sit with his work for 20-25 minutes (he can leave the desk earlier if he gets the work done satisfactorily sooner). The point is that the time sitting there is not intended to be punitive, or even a consequence (aside from the fact that work not completed at school does cut into his free time at home). It is simply time allotted for the task to get done. We now absolutely refuse to engage negatively with him about his work. Sometimes the work would be having to write some 10 paragraphs in french -- different parts of an assignment that the class had worked on for many days, and he had not done any of it on any of the days. (Don't ask me why the teacher sent the work home only at the end!) Something like this we would give an hour, which of course was not enough, but we told the teacher that for his age group an hour spent on school work at home was it for us.

I am convinced that this strategy can only be effective if the school is holding your child accountable for completing the work. It took us a ton of back and forth with the school -- mainly classroom teachers -- to get them to hold our son accountable.

Another angle you might want to explore with the school: What is Alex doing instead of getting his work done? Is he just sitting quietly? Fidgeting? Leaving his seat? Reading for pleasure? It helped us to find this out in our son's case.

Faith said...

I remember you saying recently that your boys wanted to go by their english names. I'm wondering if this change in Alex occurred around the same time. If it did perhaps you could tell him that since he has been going by Alex he has been making poor choices and therefore he can not be called Alex any longer. I have no idea if the two are related or not but I thought I would throw it out there.
I'm praying for you.

The Flying Eagle said...

Oh Courtney! I have been thinking of you and Alex so much! Aley & I struggle the same and have for 10 years (all started at 7 too). It is so exhausting. And I wish I had some nice words of wisdom but considering she still struggling in focusing and working consistently - I clearly haven't figured it out! Take care and I will be praying for you both.