Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Not Just Mom That's Scattered

Today is a pro-d day, and although I had the option to go to work today, I also had the chance to stay home with Jake. Like any other mom would, I jumped on the opportunity to sleep in, have a quiet morning coffee and lounge in pjs until noon. Well-not just that, but I didn't trust the boy at home alone all day, along with his love for explosives.


Jake would say that I've turned into the homework slave driver these days, since his last report card. You see, the first semester of high school we were always on him about his homework.

That wasn't going well because Jake was really resisting Mom knowing TOO much about his homework. He thought it was creepy because now, Mom is this all knowing being that not only knows the due dates, but what is expected for each assignment and it's entirely too much information for his 13 year old brain to handle.

"No I DON'T have to do that! Number 4 is OPTIONAL!"

"Jake Mrs. S does NOT make that optional and every other grade 8 class is doing it so just do the damn question!"

"How do you know?" (cue eye rolling and "Oh. My. Gawwwd." muttered under his breath)
"Because I've already helped 6 kids with this same project TODAY!"

We finally came to a deal. I would back off and not mention his homework at all, but if his grades slipped, then he'd have to succumb to the adult's rules for the rest of the year. Sometimes in my frustration I wonder if Jake is the most unorganized kid on the planet, only to be reassured that such a thing is very common with boys his age. Then I remember that Jake has dyspraxia, and needs HELP with this stuff.

"Mom, I need a new calculator."
"But you've already had three this year-what happened to the last one?"
"Lost it."

"Why did you get such a low grade in this class?"
"I forgot to hand my project in."

"What happened with this lab?"
"I didn't see that there was stuff on the back so I didn't do it and got 0 for it."

"Did you hand your project in?"
"What project?"

"How come you aren't using full sentences like you've been told to and so you get a lower mark?"
"She never said that."
"She said it at the beginning of the YEAR!"
"Oh. Whatever."

"Why didn't you finish all your math sheets?"
"The teacher is mean and I'm always tired in math and I didn't eat so I couldn't work and math is JUST SO EVIL, Mom!"

I need this painted on a wall in my home:

We ended up establishing the following routines-not as punishment, but as a way to keep Jake on track.

-NO TV or Computer time until homework is finished, which goes for EVERY day of the week.

-After school is free time to run around outside with friends-he really needs the downtime.

-a homework schedule to break down large assignments..he gets to choose what part he'll do first, but he has to work on the assignment for a specified amount of time.

-the instructions for large assignments are posted on the fridge. I photocopy the instructions and post them so that I have a copy in case he loses them, which is often.

-I encourage him to talk to his teachers about his assignments and possibly adapting them (for example, doing a power point slide show instead of a poster)

-Due dates are posted on the fridge-and highlighted!

-at the end of the day I always ask if he handed in assignments that are due, and if he has the appropriate books before we leave the building (I'm considering getting brightly colored Post It Notes to put on stuff that needs to be handed in)

-a binder check now and then to make sure it's somewhat together and not falling apart all over the place, which is a real issue. Jake needs a binder that is easy to handle, and so far we haven't found one.

-a calculator at home and one at school

Hopefully this stuff will help. Jake tries so hard that it's sad to see him not do well because he's having trouble being organized. Heck, I have trouble-it's taken me years to figure out strategies that work for me!

What do you do to keep your kids on track?

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