Monday, March 18, 2013

Homeschool Homework?

Homework sounds so silly in a homeschool setting.  Many parents argue that it isn't even necessary.  I used to be of that mindset myself, but I have realized there is an important concept behind it that children need to learn.  It is important for children to be given a task to do later and then to remember to do it without being reminded.  Unfortunately many children never get the hang of it, even if they go to a traditional school.  Kids continue to forget or simply not do their assignments.  This is something every adult must do in their life whether married or single, employed or a volunteer.  There will be always be tasks you must remember to do.  With Gess having special needs I think it is important to begin teaching her these skills.

After the initial chuckle of whether or not we should even call it homework since all of our work is done at home, I started making assignments for Gess.  My board usually looks something like this.

My husband has recently added putting check marks beside them so she can cross them off when she is done.  Gess apparently liked that because if I fail to add the check boxes she will do it herself.  I have also started to include some chores in the list.  My main concern is not what work must be done but that Gess remember to do it on her own, without any reminder from us.  To help encourage that I started giving her gems to place in her earning gems reward jar that I mentioned in another post.  Once she becomes real consistent about doing it I will stop the gems, but for now it's a great incentive to help her remember on her own since so far that has not happened very often.

Right now we are currently focusing on teaching her to remember she has "homework."  I actually list the work for her.  Eventually I will make it her responsibility to write the list herself.  She will then be responsible for where that is kept and remembering to check it later.  How well she does on the work is a secondary goal for me right now, but it is encouraging her to work more independently and so far she has been good about coming to me when she is "stuck" on on a problem.

One thing I love about Gess is how well she remembers what you teach her.  She may have some things she struggles with but once she is taught something she will do it exactly that way from now on.  Her gymnastics coach said that is really great and keeps her safe because she never does a trick the wrong way, at least intentionally.  Her horseback riding instructor has commented on it as well, noting that Gess has been known to correct her a time or two!  While Gess remembers  well once you teach her the skill, she is not as likely to learn the skill on her own, without being taught.  I want her to learn this skill now so when she is older if she has an appointment, an assignment, a task or needs to take a medication she will not forget.  After all, that is what I do.  I do not have a great memory. What I do have are some tricks, like list making and noting important dates on a calendar to help me remember things. 

Lists help us all in some way.  Being organized is an essential part to being a productive adult and we do not always do that well, whether we have special needs or not.  I think the concept of giving "assignments" is important for teaching a person how to be organized and remember things.  I am hoping that our new homework assignments will help teach Gess more than just math and reading.  I am hoping it will teach her skills that will enable her independence when she grows up. So far it is working great.  In fact she started adding things to the list that she wants to do.  Can you tell she is enjoying her new Sonic book?  I think she has read it at least 10 times now and as you can see, she wants to read it again.

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