Category Archives: School

Homework Too Hard

Tuesday was the last day of school for my 2E girls!  I know they’re relieved. (and so am I)  They work harder than anyone probably suspects in order to keep up with their peers in the Gifted program.

I found something sort of heartbreaking in the pile of stuff Zoolander brought home from school today, especially knowing that her ‘Stealth Dyslexia‘ makes math calculation & spelling a challenge for her.

It was a piece of paper (or some kind of royal proclamation?) from the first day of school last fall.  Zoolander said their assignment was to write down what they were worried about as they started 3rd grade.  This, from a 9-year old who scores very high on intelligence tests, but has already learned to be worried about her weaknesses.

The worries of a 3rd grader.

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Countdown to MY Summer Vacation from School

1 week to go and I will be free! (temporarily)— free from the work it takes to get Lily through school every day. Her ADHD & difficulties with Executive Function have made her first year of middle school extremely difficult for her and for me.  The organizational demands of 6th grade have been overwhelming for her and I’ve been acting as her Executive Function support and scaffolding all year.

At least for the next couple of months… I’ll be free from the torture of nagging Lily to get ready for school.  Getting her out of the house–on timeevery day is a major feat.  So, at least for the summer… no reminding, over and over again.  No fighting.  No frustration. No yelling. No tears. And that’s just the morning.

I won’t have to try to figure out every night what homework she has to do, when it’s due, if she’s done it and/or if she’s turned it in.  I won’t have to check the Parent Portal to find out what assignments she has missing. No hurrying through dinner and showers to try to get Lily settled down enough to fall asleep at a decent hour.  We can enjoy summer evenings on our porch, watching the sun set behind the mountains, while the kids goof around and I guzzle a box of wine.  GUZZLE-to drink especially liquor greedily, continually, or habitually

This has been the hardest school year for me since Lily started Kindergarten.  The extreme effort it takes to try to keep this ADHD/2E kid caught up on her assignments seems to be never ending and exhausting.  

Lily is tired too.  She desperately needs time to just play and explore and exercise, after being cooped up at school, forced into a rigid environment that emphasizes her weaknesses, instead of her strengths.

The Organization Fairy and the IEP

Nearly 3 weeks and the IEP situation has not been resolved.  I have been trying to hold my tongue here (a little bit) during negotiations.  The tension and stress just really suck.  BUT—I will not give up until they agree, in writing, to provide the support and scaffolding Lily needs to develop as a student and a human being.  Because I am NOT going to college with her to check her Student Planner every night.

Received another revised version of the IEP tonight and STILL the language makes it sound like her Executive Function deficits, which are caused by her disability–ADHD, are really only a concern to her parents. In fact, to the rest of the team, it doesn’t seem to be a problem that Lily had 9 missing or late Math assignments & 7 missing or late Language Arts assignments last trimester.  (and those are the ones I didn’t catch) C’mon? What’s the problem?  Her grades are fine. What am I complaining about?  I’m sure her future teachers won’t have a problem with that either, right?

The IEP also seems to suggest that learning those Executive Function skills is completely my daughter’s responsibility. That perhaps some all-seeing, all-knowing, list-making, anal-retentive Student Planner fairy is going to sprinkle sparkly organizational dust from the sky and it will float down upon her sweet 11-year old forehead, soak into her frontal lobe and she will magically, without help, turn in all her assignments, on time.

Maybe the Organizational Fairy could also make these wishes come true:

*After being reminded both verbally and on the board, Lily will understand what to write in her planner every day.

*After being reminded both verbally and on the board, Lily will remember to write her assignments in her planner every day.
*After being reminded both verbally and on the board, Lily will understand when it is time to turn in her assignments, where to turn them in and remember to actually turn them in.
*When Lily is unclear about what she should write in her planner, when an assignment is due, the steps she needs to take to complete an assignment, and what to do if she didn’t turn in her assignment, she will ask an adult for clarification.  

Oh, asking for adult assistance. That’s a big one and pretty much, right now, it doesn’t happen.  But her IEP goals and objectives say it should happen, somehow.  Oh, right… maybe the Fairy again?

Sadly, there is no Organization Fairy who can help break these seemingly simple tasks down into small enough steps for Lily to begin to learn to do it for herself.

I guess if Lily will just buckle down, put her shoulder to wheel, pull herself up by her bootstraps and shape up or ship out, she’ll do just fine next year, won’t she?  ‘Cause I’m sure that’s all it takes.  It’s just a character flaw that can be fixed with just a few natural consequences, right?  Yep. That’ll teach her.

Me and the 2E/ADHD/IEP

The IEP drama isn’t over.  There is still some back and forth with the school via email that makes me think that we’re not completely on the same page.  

Also, I showed Dr. K a copy of the draft IEP and he had some thoughts.  He did notice that, while the school had come up with some appropriate goals for Lily, they had not documented how they planned to help her accomplish those goals.

I asked about that in the meeting.  They told me that they exchange that information with next year’s team, verbally, in the fall.  Dr. K says the specifics need to be written in the document. So, when they send me the next version of the IEP, he’s going to take a closer look at it before I sign it.

I just realized I’m writing this calmly as if I’m not completely frustrated (paranoid, defensive, emotional, furious) with this whole process.  I ranted to Dr. K about the fact that I don’t feel like people understand the nuances of Executive Function issues, especially with a twice exceptional kid, and I don’t have the psychological language to explain it fully.  He told me that I don’t need to frustrate myself by trying to educate them, just continue to try to get what Lily needs. 

He did, though, give me some ideas on how to refute some of the arguments that people make against helping train a child with EF deficits to organize themselves.

*There are a lot of disorganized students in middle school.  Your child’s problem is not unusual, so why does she need extra help?

Answer:  Because most other middle school students will learn those Executive Function skills naturally as they mature, but a child with EF deficits needs explicit training to learn those skills.  If they are not given the help in middle school, they will be unequipped for the organizational demands of high school.

*Your child’s late assignments are not affecting her grades in a big way, so why is her disorganization such a big deal?

Answer:  Grades are not the whole measure of a child’s progress and growth as a student.

*We put the assignments on the board, online and give verbal reminders.  It is your child’s responsibility to keep track of them and turn them in.  There’s nothing more that we can do. Why don’t you (stop hovering and) let your child suffer the natural consequences of disorganization at school?

Answer:  Our goal is to eventually have the student take complete responsibility for keeping schoolwork organized, but when a child has EF deficits, it’s a gradual process.  Natural consequences will not teach this kind of student specific strategies to stay organized, that’s why support needs scaffolding to gradually reduce the structure until the student is able to form their own habits.

One conclusion I’ve come to through this process, I solemnly swear I will never attend another IEP mtg by myself.  There’s too much at stake and I’m not equipped to pull it off.

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