5 Signs the Homework Battle is Actually Something More
As parents, we've all been there - just wanting to enjoy a peaceful night with our family practicing yoga in a zen-like fashion after dinner, or something like that. But instead, what we get is an argument over finishing homework. This is a typical scene for many families. However, it's important to know that there are some things we need to watch out for that could indicate its actually a bigger problem that needs to be addressed. If you have concerns that you want to talk about, contact us, we are happy to help answer any questions you may have.
All students will occasionally throw a fit or tantrum about getting their work done. However, you need to be on the lookout for indicators that you may have a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. Pay attention to whether any of the following things are occurring:
1. Homework is a frequent struggle.
If nearly every single-night you are pulling you're wanting to pull your hair out because your child just cannot seem to get his or her work done and is downright refusing to work on it we have a problem. If you've tried motivating your child to complete homework to no avail, they may be acting out because they don't understand or want to admit that the work is really hard for them. They would rather appear that they don't want to do the work than the simple truth that they can't do the work. This is usually not because they are lazy or unmotivated although that is typically our first assumption as parents.
2. Specific aspects of homework are creating meltdowns or frustration.
This is a tell-tale sign that you have something going on that needs to be addressed. If math homework is a breeze but spelling homework is a nightmare this is a major red-flag that your child should be assessed for a specific learning disability. It's important to realize that while we call dyslexia (difficulty learning to read), dyscalculia (difficulty understanding math), and dysgraphia (difficulty with writing skills) specific learning disabilities - they are truly just a different style of learning - we only call it a disability because it can create significant strain in the classroom...or at home, and often both. There is nothing wrong with your child's brain and none of these learning struggles equate to low cognition - in fact, many of these students have very high IQs which is what makes their struggle with homework or in the classroom so perplexing.
3. The homework doesn't seem to get easier for your child even after practice.
If your child can't seem to recognize that they just solved the same math fact two rows before or your child can't read the word they just sounded out three words ago - we have a cause for concern. If even after memorizing an entire list of spelling words the week before they aren't spelling those words correctly in their sentences or paragraphs - we have an issue. If any of these things sound like something you've experienced it's important to know that it may be a sign of a specific learning disability that needs to be addressed. Students who struggle with a learning disability that isn't identified or addressed can struggle significantly long-term in the classroom - it doesn't go away, it doesn't get easier, it just makes your child feel more inadequate.
4. Your child's ability to organize, prioritize, or complete work seems abysmal.
You ask your child what homework he or she needs to complete and are met with a blank stare, an "I don't remember" or "I don't have any", or an "oh no, I forgot my homework folder at school". Beyond forgetting assignments and necessary materials, you might be wondering why your child isn't able to finish what seems like a simple multiplication or division problem. He or she may have numbers that seem difficult to follow and a pattern of completion that just doesn't seem logical or step-by-step. Even if the answer is right, you have no idea of how your child got there and he or she can't explain it to you in terms you understand. All of these are signs or indicators that something deeper may be going on that need to be assessed.
5. Your child's teacher has commented on lack of output.
You know your child is bright, your teacher knows your child is bright - he can build an incredible Lego design without instructions and truly amazes you with the story and analogy behind it and yet struggles with reading simple text or completing simple directions and requests. She can create the most intricate and elaborate models or drawings and explain to you concepts far beyond what you feel her peers are discussing and yet she can't spell for the life of her. If you or your child's teacher are noticing a disconnect between what your child knows and how well he or she is reading or writing that is a major red flag indicating a need for assessment.
So What Do I Do?
It's important that if you are recognizing these signs - you don't push it off, you don't wait to see if things will improve. If you are seeing these signs in your child you may very well be wasting incredibly valuable time by not seeking out an answer. Every day your child doesn't get the help he or she needs is moving them closer to frustration, anger, self-doubt, and possibly failure (or at the very least feelings of failure).
It's also important that you know that the school wants to help. But it's often not enough - they have limited resources and a lot of children they are trying to serve. The best services they can offer may not entirely meet the needs of your child. And the process for obtaining specialized support through the school is LONG. Schools have 60 days to complete testing from the time you formally request testing and then more time after that to meet with you to discuss results and then more time after that to begin implementing services if it is determined that he or she qualifies. It's not unusual between school breaks, holidays, and just the length of time for this process to not receive specialized support for 6-months or more.
We Want to Be Clear
We absolutely believe that you should enlist the help of your school to support your child. In fact, we believe this so much that we have included a 10-Step Checklist here to get your child the help that he or she needs through the school. START NOW!
We truly believe that a collaborative approach is the best possible scenario for your child. We want the very best for your child. More than likely your child's school does as well (we can't think of any school that would deny this as true).
But the honest truth is that they have limited resources and need to teach to a way that will support as many students as possible - unfortunately, that may or may not be the best way for your child. It's not their fault - but it's just not enough. So don't hold out on the false hope that they will completely support your child if he or she is struggling.
As long as you continue to be curious about why your child may be acting or performing in a certain way, and as long as you take action when you realize something may be going on, you are doing everything you can and should be doing.
At the very least, make sure to notice when your child is struggling.
And if you aren't sure, fill out the form and shoot us a message and we will set up a time to chat - it's free! We can help. All you need is a plan and someone to guide you through the steps. It's what we do, and we've helped hundreds of other families through this process.