asynchronous high schooler

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-27-2000
asynchronous high schooler
13
Tue, 11-13-2012 - 12:13pm

DS started highschool this fall. Our challenge is that his work speed is significantly slower than that of his peers.  He routinely does 4-6 hours of homework a night - seven nights a week.  Others in his grade/courses spend slightly less than half that much time on their coursework.  Of course, if DS steps up from honors classes to AP in the future, we hear that the workload doubles again -which is not possible in DS's case because there are not enough hours in a day.

DH and I have asked DS to consider stepping back and taking lower level courses.  His responses are that a) I will have no peer group in those classes and b) the classes I'm in now are taught way below my cognitive level so I can't imagine how bored I'd be in general education classes.  We had a 504 meeting with the guidance counselor and teachers.  The teachers for whom he routinely does the most daily homework said "If he can't keep up with the load, he should just selectively skip some of the homework and get Cs.  He needs to stop thinking of himself as an A student." DS feels that it is unjust that he should receive Cs in classes that are actually too easy for him and in which he understands the material completely - just because he does not read or write quickly.  We asked if he could have routinely modified homework assignments - especially with respect to routine outlining and nightly writing prompts.  The guidance counselor's response was that DS should self-advocate on an assignment-by-assignment basis.  Honestly, this would mean DS e-mailing four teachers per day, every day, and asking that the day's assignment be reduced, then hoping to get a response in time to have an impact on that evening's plan of work.  

Any advice on next steps either by DS or parents?  We are at a loss.  DS says he is fine continuing 30-40 hours of homework per week for the rest of high school, and taking mostly honors and very few APs in the upper grades.  But DS has some health concerns.  If/when medical treatments begin again, there is no way he will be able to continue at this pace.  Even if all remains good medically, he is bound to hit the wall at some point.  The school views DS as not in need of accommodation because he is not failing, so it is pretty clear that there is not much they are going to be willing to do.  DS is very frustrated with the amount of work.  He says "None of it is difficult or mentally taxing.  It's just cumbersome."  He feels extremely proud of himself for keeping his head above water.  I just can't help feeling that it's an extremely unreasonable expectation on a child that he have this much homework.  The teachers say that it's not uncommon for students to have this much homework in high school and that DS needs to get faster or get used to accepting lower grades.  

 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Fri, 11-16-2012 - 11:54pm
Is the taking college courses what the school told you? Or what the college told you? I live in WA, kids here have the option of taking the last two years of high school in community colleges to earn their AA. Home schoolers often do this too - they don't worry about getting a diploma as most colleges if you show you can do college level classes will be fine with accepting you without a high school diploma. Home schoolers will tend to have a diploma from the "family school", usually showing the classes they took at college as their junior and senior year. The only instance I heard of a home schooler getting turned down at university with a home school diploma was when the college wanted the transcript stamped "official" so the mom got a stamp for Office Depot and sent it back. The school my sister attended in MD basically told her the same thing you were told - but the college said she could take all the classes she could handle. So she did, and got a year and a half out of the way early. If your son did this, you might want him to focus on "easy" classes at high school, and more difficult at college. Basically, they can't stop your son from taking college classes if he wants as long as you are paying for it. The teachers strike me as asses, to put it mildly. A bright kid doesn't need to do outlines. A bright kid needs discussion, exploration and application. I am glad you were able to get real text books. But yes, explore getting him tested again, and allow for him to show in alternate ways that he has grasped the concepts. Also see if they will allow him to do work electronically - there are some really great apps out there that may help him. Ones for taking notes, recording lectures and taking photos of the board. (Get permission from teachers before using these!) A talk with an occupational therapist, either at the school or through your medical insurance may be very helpful for determining which things would work best for your son. Regular OT may not be helpful at this point, but the knowledge that they have, as well as having them as an advocate for his needs may be what you need. Sometimes with the schools you need a "professional" to tell the teachers before they will believe what you have been saying all along.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Fri, 11-16-2012 - 11:55pm
Sorry - I forgot that quick reply no longer does paragraphs. It used to work better for me with my old computer...
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Sat, 12-22-2012 - 11:15am

I'm going to try not to rant and rail against this outrageous and all too common trend in public school honors classes. But yes, we have so been there! My daughter said many of the things your son is saying, basically, that it's the quantity of the workload that's difficult, not the material itself. And I hear this all the time, mostly from gifted kids who must be in honors/AP classes to get anywhere near the challenge they need. And these are kids who do not have issues with processing speed, so I can't imagine what your son must go through every day.

My daughter was a mess sophomore year. I won't go into the gory details, but at one point, she was thinking of dropping out and applying to an early college program just so her school work would have more meaning.  She ended up transferring to a small Christian school that is perceived as less rigorous (meaning, it has a more balanced workload and fewer AP offerings, but is not intellectually less challenging) and is thriving there. I know private schools aren't the answer for everyone, but I do want to encourage you if you are thinking along these lines at all.

We got a lot of grief from friends and even family for pulling our kids out of a school ranked at or near the top in our state and sending them to a school no one had even heard of, but I can honestly say it was the best decision regarding their education we have ever made. And in spite of the lighter workload in the AP classes, the school still managed to cover the material, because DD got all 5s on her exams. This tells me that you don't need piles of homework every night to cover the AP curriculum.

In fact, I would argue that having to study for hours each night is the enemy of the gifted high schooler, especially the introverted creative types, who need down time and artistic pursuits to thrive. And I am outraged that your school's officials told your son to selectively skip homework and accept Cs when they should be reexamining their entire HW policy for everyone. Grades should reflect learning, not endurance and stamina.

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