2nd Jun, 2009

Homework Stress

It’s coming up to report writing time at school and I’ve received a number of requests from teachers for Seth to complete overdue homework.  Seth is very unmotivated when it comes to any school activities and is extremely unwilling to do homework.  He tells me “school is prison and home should be freedom” and wants to write to the Government to get them to abolish homework because kids already do enough work at school.  With an attitude like that how do we encourage him to complete his homework?

My older four kids, by the time they got to secondary school, had an idea that they were at school to learn, that there was satisfaction in a job well done, and that skills and knowledge had advantages down the track.  I guess because of his FASD Seth doesn’t look past today and certainly has no sense of the big picture.  Telling him he needs to learn maths this year so he can do next year’s maths and maybe go on to do a computer course at College (which will require some maths) just doesn’t convince him. And even if his homework is relatively interesting and stimulating he is not easily engaged.

So in the end I have to resort to bribes and threats.  Mostly this revolves around his computer time, the currency that means the most to him. I’ll put a note on his computer screen saying “You may go on the computer as soon as you finish your cultural project”.  He’ll argue and whine and attempt to negotiate – “I’ll just play this one game then I’ll do my homework”, and I try to stay calm and consistent and remind him that if he quickly does his project now, with me helping him, he’ll be done in an hour and can go back on the computer.  Instead he gets upset, slinks off to his room or goes out on his bike, returns later and starts the whole argument again.  By the time he realises there’s no alternative he’s in such a cranky mood that he puts little effort into his work, needs to be guided through step by step and ends up with a very poor project which he has no pride in and usually ends up forgetting to hand in on time!

I’m feeling very frustrated with the situation, and wonder how we’re going to get through the next few years working this way. I can’t see Seth learning anything through his homework and his immature attitude seems to be worsening with adolescent defiance, not improving with the acceptance and wisdom of age which I noted in my older “neurotypical” teenagers when they got to this age.

Some people tell me that homework should be his problem not mine and that I should let the school deal with it by giving him detentions and suchlike.  But Seth isn’t good at understanding consequences and I feel like that will just increase his anxiety about school and his reluctance to be there. We step on eggshells with these kids.

Anyway, I’d best go off and finish the housework. Seth will be home from school soon and the two of us have a lot of homework to get through tonight.


Ugh, I feel for you. How old is Seth again? Does the school downsize his assignments? Sveta is actually very good about doing her homework as long as it is not overwhelming— but her schoolwork is at her ability and pushes her only enough.

Hang in there– isn’t school almost out for you guys?

Christine, Seth is thirteen and in the first year of Secondary School. He is in the normal classroom with a slightly modified program (simplified tasks and reduced work load) with some assistance from a shared teacher aide. I think the general classroom can be a bit overwhelming for him but his IQ is above 70 so he doesn’t qualify for special education. We finish term in three weeks, when we have a two week break which marks halfway in our school year. Seth is hanging out for the holidays!

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