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I'm a 30-something wife and mom. My boys are my pride and joy. Together, we are navigating being a forever family post international adoption.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Homework Reboot

You might remember that about a month ago homework wasn't going so well. We took a break and came back with a new plan that is working pretty well for us, so far.

We're actually lucky when it comes to Buddy and school. He came to us used to the school environment and he's a very bright and social kid. We had some initial roadblocks and issues still come up here and there, but generally he is well regulated at school.

What is new for him, though, is a family environment with rules or expectations. Buddy thrives under the structure of the school environment. He knows it is the place where work gets done. At home, there are so many other things Buddy wants to do that he has a very hard time sitting down and focusing on homework.

Buddy is the kid who tries for a bit then throws his hands up in the air and says the work is too hard. We have seen everything from tears to destruction to self-hurt over homework. Mr. Black has told us Buddy has moved past these behaviors at school and is now able to work mostly independently.

Homework became a power struggle of us trying to force Buddy to work and him resisting. The more we pushed, the more he pushed back until we were all angry. And no work was getting done!

I read a couple of articles on Empowering Parents called Homework Hell that helped Hubby and I decide how to re-structure homework time to make it work better for the whole family. The first article focused on the environment at home and the second on techniques to use during homework.

Although these articles aren't specifically about adopted children, there was a lot of information I found really useful. Some of it re-inforced what we were already doing, while other tips helped us shift our focus. We took the advice of the writer to establish better homework structure and have clear rewards and consequences.

After school Buddy has free time to do as he likes, but homework starts promptly at 5 and goes for one hour. Video game time is from 6 to 7 after homework is done. If homework doesn't go well then video game time doesn't happen. We eat at 7 on the nose, so computers must be put away for the night at that time.

Video games are definitely the token economy in our home. Finding Buddy's token economy was key to getting him to buy in.

Rewards and consequences are tied to video game time as well. In addition to losing video game time, it is also possible for Buddy to gain extra screen time to use on the weekend if he works hard and has a good attitude. And if he finishes the work he's given early then he's done for the night as an additional reward for working hard.

No one likes to work on the weekend. Unless there is something specific that comes home from school Buddy gets weekends off.

We used to hold Buddy's hand through homework. Now, we help Buddy get started and then back off. We make sure that he understands how to do the homework, but leave accomplishing it up to him. We let him decide how hard he wants to work. Since the rewards and consequences are clearly established and he has bought into them, he can make that decision on his own.

We worked together with Mr. Black to "chunk" homework for Buddy. Instead of worrying about him finishing a page of homework containing a variety of questions, we have alternate worksheets from school that are one topic per page and several consecutive pages of the same type of work. Instead of Buddy having to shift his brain between different modes, he can concentrate on getting techniques down one at a time.

Finally, I had to accept the fact that I am a trigger for Buddy during homework time. In general, I am the parent who deals with feelings and emotional issues. Hubby is much better at keeping cool when Buddy's mood starts to escalate during homework, though. When Buddy is working, I make sure to stay out of the room.

There are still days that are better and days that are worse, but so far there are many more good than bad ones. As far as Buddy has come, we sometimes forget that he is still learning how to take ownership and responsibility for his work. He is slowly starting to see that working hard is important.

Baby steps!


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    1. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.