Parents are their children’s first teachers. I took this seriously and began teaching and reading to my children as soon as they left the womb. I just didn’t expect to be still doing it 27 years out. I’m talking about teaching here, not guiding or offering advice. I mean helping my daughter read her mail, or better yet, making sure she doesn’t throw away her important mail claiming it is only credit card applications. Spelling words for her so that she can fill out applications and inspecting the checks she writes to be sure they are properly written. But I didn’t start this until Marie graduated high school and junior college. Before that, it was enough to get her through the academics.
I believe that homework is a necessary part of any education, but it can become exhausting with a special needs student in the house.
In elementary school, the dining room table was always a mass of folded or spindled or torn papers. Pencils, erasers, and erasable pens, rulers and homework planners, workbooks and textbooks were scattered everywhere. That was where five children accomplished their nightly homework. Well, most of the children. Marie would leave the table with the rest of them, but she wasn’t finished. I would sit by this chaos closing my eyes and rubbing my forehead, as if it could all disappear and I could have some free time.
I would sigh and reach for another cup of tea. Marie’s the oldest, yet academic work is difficult for her. And, she’s a hurrier. In elementary school, Marie would look at a paper and decide she knew what to do. From my relentless “Read the directions first!” sometimes she’d look at the first word—or even the first letter—and plug in whatever word happened to be in her head. She just wanted to say she was done, like the other children.
But she’s not like the other children. She needed reinforcement and repetition. And this all took time—endless hours of correcting, reading, and explaining again and again. Downtime that I could have spent enjoying the children, playing a game with them or going for a walk. Quiet time reading a book of MY choosing, or spending time with my husband. Visiting friends or shopping in peace. But at my house, at that time, the world revolved around Marie and her education.