Things That I Learned About Being A Teacher Now that I’m a Parent

backtoschoolAttendance is overrated.    As a teacher I was always a big believer in good attendance.  And don’t get me wrong, I still believe.  But my son works his butt off and every once in a while he needs a brain break in order to recharge.  It takes him exponentially more brain power to do half of the work of everyone else so it only makes sense that he might need a breather.

Homework really is a problem.  A MAJOR problem. My son comes home from school each day and he needs to play.  It has been a long day and he needs to blow off some steam.  By the time he’s ready for homework its time for me to cook dinner.  By the time dinner is done, I need to put my 2 year old in the bath.  By the time we’re ready to start homework, my son is exhausted and homework is a nightmare.  I know for some kids the homework is too easy but for my son it requires a lot of time and a lot of help.  It is homework for me just as much as it is for my son.  The battles we have- you wouldn’t believe!  Or maybe you would- any suggestions?

Kids love worksheets and workbooks.I used to think that worksheets were a teacher’s easy way out.  You can give a kid busy work and he or she will quietly do it.  But I never really believed that these worksheets offered any useful teaching.  Now that I’m a mom I see it a bit differently.  My son LOVES workbooks.  He loves feeling that he can sit down and independently do something and feel successful.  So I have become more open minded about these pages.  If they’re correctly chosen they may actually serve a purpose.

Being on time is not as easy as you think.  Unless your brain works like my son’s, you might not realize that there a lot of cool things to distract you while you’re getting dressed in the morning.  Or brushing your teeth.  Or putting on your shoes.  Or getting your backpack.  Or walking to the car.  My son is an early riser.  He typically wakes up in time for us to have almost two hours to get ready before he needs to be at school.  Yet EVERY DAY we end up rushing at the last minute.  EVERY DAY.

You might as well just check out the library book to me.  He is so excited when he brings home that Star Wars book from the school library.  He runs in the door and puts it down so he can remember to read it before bed but, alas, forgets where he put it.  We often don’t see the book until the next week when we’re frantically searching for it because tomorrow is library day again at school.  Thank you, god, for the Iphone reminder I programed into my phone!

Report cards really don’t give me much useful information.  Developing. Progressing.  Needs improvement.  I’m not sure what these mean.  I know what skills you’re working on.  I know what his IEP goals are.  But at the end of the day, I want to know how he’s keeping up compared to everyone else.  I used to work at a very competitive private school and parents used to ask me how their child “ranked” academically in the class.  I used to feel that it was such an inappropriate question.  Teachers don’t rank first graders!  And they shouldn’t.  But now I understand that place of anxiety from which the question is coming.  What we’re really saying is, “Is my child keeping up with his peers?”  “Is he going to be okay?” “Please tell me he is not failing”.

Kids love desks.  As a teacher I preferred cooperative tables because of the type of learning they provided.  I always assumed that kids like tables better too because they felt less rigid.  But then my son started first grade and the thing that he was the most excited about was that he got his own desk.  He felt like a big kid and he takes the responsibility seriously.

I’m more nervous about school than my kid. I want you to like my kid.  Hell, I want you to like me.  Enough said.

Kim Clary Cafiero

Kim is a stay at home mom to two boys. She came to parenthood through adoption and was a teacher and school administrator before taking the plunge to stay home full time. She lives in New Jersey.

Related posts:

academic achievement, adhd and school, General ADHD, homework, Kim Clary Cafiero, parenting ADHD, Uncategorized ·

About the author

Kim is a stay at home mom to two boys. She came to parenthood through adoption and was a teacher and school administrator before taking the plunge to stay home full time. She lives in New Jersey.
  • Kristen Cornejo

    Yes! I have advice on the homework. My 2nd-grader has ADHD and is
    currently unmedicated.Organic eating has helped him – our doc
    recommended trying this, but warns it doesn’t help everyone. For getting
    dressed, we use a chart in the morning. He likes following the chart.
    Then I remind him throughout the morning that if he can get dressed
    super-fast, he will have time for homework. Whatever time he spends
    doing homework in the morning will be time he has free for playing in
    the afternoon. Many times he is able to complete all of his homework for
    that day – BECAUSE – I have let him fail and feel the consequence of
    not being able to go out and play after school because he didn’t finish
    his HW in the morning. I understand the “letting him unwind” at the end
    of the day, and in fact my neighbors on both sides do this with their
    kids, who happen to be the same age as my son. But I have found that it
    is much more difficult for my son to go out and have to stop his game to
    come back in to do HW. Forget about concentrating right before bed. NOT
    gonna happen. So we do it immediately after school. Hearing the other
    kids playing outside is distracting, yes… but it’s also hugely
    motivating for him to finish his work. The other thing I have found with
    him, and it could be different for you, but – the more I butt out, the
    better he focuses. After two years of school, I have finally realized
    that I am exactly what he DOESN’T need… ONE MORE DISTRACTION. So I
    tell him to try to figure it out on his own and let me know if he has
    any questions. I try to only intervene when he asks me to. I can’t
    believe how much better he concentrates without my presence! (what an
    ego-dasher!) When he reaches certain “checkpoints,” he tells me, and I
    check his work for him. This also allows me to cook dinner while he’s
    working. Again, if he stares off into space or goes all ADHD on me, I
    don’t make a big deal about it other than occasionally saying, “hmm, if
    you finish in ten minutes, you might still have time to play!” and that
    helps him bring his brain back down from wherever it goes. For now, it
    works for us. Geez I’m long-winded. Sorry, but I hope you’re able to use
    something from this! I really appreciate that you write this blog –
    makes feel less alone!

  • keira2

    I could have written EVERY SINGLE WORD OF THIS.. except, I’m not a teacher… but, otherwise, EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://burbstoboonies.blogspot.com/ Stephanie in Kansas

    Oh geez, we have the homework thing too! I’m mulling over doing a little when he first gets home and the rest later, breaking it up, it’s so hard though, really hard. My kiddo’s pretty goal oriented (he’s 7) so I am thinking of putting some type of goal to it to motivate him. Nice post, thank you for sharing. It helps all of us out here to know someone else gets what we go through :)

  • barjobo

    Teacher of kids who learn differently here. I’m printing this to share with teachers and parents, so thank you. If homework is not as exciting as a workbook, perhaps the teacher needs to modify it. Homework should be something the child is able to do with minimal support; it’s practice or extension, NOT instruction. When it is, children are more likely to get it done. Switch HW time to shortly after school, for a set period of time and give positives for increasingly completing more and more. Independently. Sometimes kids “yank our chains” to get us to do the work for them. I’m not big on meds for kids, but with or without them, kids who struggle need behavior instruction/therapy and possibly counselling. Sometimes their teachers do, too.

  • K Lowe

    Reading your blog bring me so much comfort -that I am not alone with the daily struggles of raising two boys with learning disabilities and one with ADHD! Keep it coming!

  • mother of 2

    I love your blog! I just stumbled a crossed it when looking for advice and literature about swearing and have been intrigued by your other blogs.
    Homework is a struggle in our home as well. The work load is intense for any child – even if they do not have ADHD – and they need to play (as there is great educational value to play). One website we did come across for reading is http://www.readingeggs.com . They are reading and not even noticing it!
    Thanks for sharing your blog!

  • dawn

    My son just started 1st grade this year, so this is the first time we’re dealing with homework. We’ve been having him do it as soon as he gets home and explain that the quicker he accurately finishes it, the quicker he can play. He is also medicated, so if we waited until after dinner it would be that much more difficult to focus on. It’s normally done in about half an hour and he goes back to bouncing off of the walls. Now, like I said, it’s 1st grade so we’re copying spelling words, flash carding sight words, and reading a short book so it’s not that much. Good luck!

  • Crys

    We struggled with this for years. I spent most of my son’s elementary school evenings sitting at the table with him trying to complete what seemed like relatively easy and short assignments. The work would take enormous amounts of time and typically caused much frustration and sometimes tears. By the time middle school came around the assignments were much longer and more difficult. I ended up setting a limit on the amount of time he would work on school work outside of school. In middle school it was about 45 minutes to an hour. Whatever wasn’t done in that amount of time went back unfinished. Anything that took longer than that he either didn’t understand well enough, meaning I was reteaching the lesson or he was so unfocused that we were wasting our time even attempting to work on it any longer.

    That was a rough decision and really hard to tell his teachers we were just done and not going to ruin every evening in our home. I just had to look at what was more important and homework lost out to peace in our family. It is difficult to send your child to school with blank assignments and difficult to let them get poor grades but ultimately he wasn’t learning anything sitting at that table with me other than when we both hit our frustration point.

  • tejaswoman

    One reason the worksheets can be encouraging sometimes is that they have structure and predictability. The student with ADHD can see what is left to do. The steps often are clearer and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Heck, I’m in grad school (again!) and my cataloging class — where I have to look at materials and figure out what info goes in each blank on a worksheet and come up with only some of it myself — is the first class I’ve truly enjoyed of the six in which I’ve enrolled over the past year (four completed). Still remember the time in junior high when I got the only “A” I ever got in science: when our teacher decided for one quarter to use “contract grades.” It was fantastic … and it even got me to do a science-fair project after 4+ years of being scared to death of them!

The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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