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: 04-27-2000
Wed, 11-14-2012 - 9:36am

Can't tell you how much it helped to hear some love for DS just now.  Thanks.  We may try again with naturally speaking.  We were able to demo it a couple of years ago and he had no interest, back at that time.  I already read to him and do typing while he dictates.  That's factored in to the 30+ hours of homework.  Without at-home assistance, he'd be falling even farther behind.   We may sit down with the guidance counselor again and see if there's anything else she can recommend.  All of the textbooks are online this year.  I pushed for, and received, hard copies of textbooks yesterday.  DS was able to shave 45 minutes off of his history homework last night by having an actual book, as opposed to the online version.  Not only is the online version flaky (it freezes up all the time), but he seems to lose his place looking up at the screen, then down at his outline, then back up.  Side by side worked much better, marking a finger on the place with one hand while writing with the other.  That saves about three hours a week, right there.  He ought to be able to shave off an hour or two a week from the math now that he has a textbook.  If you think of other possible accommodations, please recommend.  Even when we go in and ask for something specific - like a requirement for shorter papers, less writing on outlines, it has been denied.  So changes at home may be all we have.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Tue, 11-13-2012 - 7:51pm

I absolutely love his response and his tenacity.   I don't have great advice for you but I would not stop with the answers you've already received.  A 504 plan should allow accommodation for allowing extra time for tests and should allow for modified homework.  The simplistic thinking that he needs to be able to work faster to keep up is just misplaced.  You need to keep looking until you find a knowledgeable person inside or outside the school system who can convey a 2E kids for dummies lecture.

 I'm very sympathetic.  My dd is not 2E but she is a very, very thorough and thoughtful kid who distills, distills, distills until she's synthesized material to her satisfaction.   She takes an enormous amount of time to write anything and tells me that she always needs extra time to complete tests at school.   I don't know if this is true for your ds as well, but I'm guessing that for him, like dd,  putting him in easier classes wouldn't change that, at least not in all subjects.  DD would certainly continue to take hours to write papers and to annotate her reading.  History tests would still take more time than what's allotted.  The only difference would be that her papers would stand out even more than they already do.   It sounds like your ds already has a really good sense of himself and understands that moving to lower level classes is not the answer.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Tue, 11-13-2012 - 4:15pm

Holy cow. My heart goes out to him. Can I just say (possibly not for the first time) just how much I love your kid? Is that okay with you?

Has he been formally identified as 2E? Being in Canada I don't really understand what a 504 meeting is vs. an IEP or whatever other procedures and policies you have to deal with. It seems to me he's experiencing a classic twice-exceptional dilemma: his intellectual gifts (and exceptional work ethic!) are allowing him to compensate for his disabilities and challenges such that he appears to be doing fine, needing neither additional support nor additional challenge -- while in fact he would probably benefit immensely from both. Your post is so clear and so poignant. Is there anyone at the school to whom you can express exactly what you wrote in your post ... and be heard? Would additional testing showing a 3-4 standard deviation discrepancy between strong and weak scores, or a massive verbal vs. performance gap be helpful? 

If you really feel you're at a dead end with the school, two possibilities (besides switching schools) occur to me. First ... what about dual enrolment? Would a community college course be less focused on grades-for-homework-completion and more focused on mastery? Second ... what about providing him with accommodations at home, even if they won't allow them in school. Things like Dragon Naturally Speaking, or reading aloud to him rather than leaving him to read, or scribing for him? Does he struggle with writing mechanics, such that having his own laptop and touch-typing would be helpful? Would an audio recorder be helpful in class, or at home, to aid with transcribing his ideas or lectures?

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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