Galen's special ed teacher (and now IEP coordinator) sent home a note yesterday that read
"I am concerned that Galen will be falling behind if he decides not to work in school or at home. If you have a suggestion to help him please let me know. Mrs. R."
Now, those of you who have been reading my blog lately know that I have some nontraditional views on education- as in I believe children are designed to learn, but not to do worksheets and definitely not designed to sit down 8 hours in a classroom on a beautiful spring day.
I responded by email and wrote the following:
Hello Mrs. R,
I got your note this morning regarding Galen's lack of cooperation/homework in your class.
The last few weeks haven been very autistic for Galen. We have had many hard days with him. However, he seems to be pulling out of the worst of it and actually was talking in sentences this morning and was willing to walk unto the bus by himself (rather then be carried,kicking and screaming, as often happens).
Spring has traditionally been a rough time for Galen in school. He has often had a strong lack of desire to be in school the last few months and just wants to play.
Galen has a "no homework" policy in his IEP. This allows us time at home to be a family rather then spend hours every night on a few worksheets. When Galen is willing to work, we are more then happy to help him, and often reward him for the effort.
My feelings on why he is not working in class lately is that his physical needs are unmet. This winter the poor kid probably backlogged hundreds of hours of outdoor time and needs to release/ fulfill that need.
May I suggest teaching him physically? Take him outdoor and have him solve math problems relating to things/actions outside. This can be things like dividing rock piles or playground toys or even trees.
For reading I would suggest the same approach- have him read signs, road maps, plan a trip, have make a map and write directions..... there are so many things you can learn from when you are outside.
If you have to be inside, give him extra outside time as an incentive, and also keep him working "hands on." It is a favorite math game here to divide toys or chocolate chips, or cheddar bunnies. And make him read the box of the cheddar bunnys. When we do the homework at home, it is through the real application that we do each problem.
I hope these suggestions help- 8 weeks to go :)
However, I kind of wanted to go on and shame the educational system for thinking of homework as learning and therefore not doing homework as not learning.... but I felt it would not help Galen to create a rift between his teacher and mother.
I also wanted to say that kids are natural sponges for learning about the world and rules of the universe and that schools are rooms that separate the children from the world and the universe that they are trying so hard to learn about. So now we will see if they seriously care about his learning or just about his worksheets.