How much help do you provide your child when it comes to completing a homework assignment? How do you handle it when, even after explaining the scenario, your child is so frustrated by the process that she is in hysterics saying she can't do it? These questions are not rhetorical so by all means, feel free to answer.
There really is no way to put this gently. Katherine has more trouble putting a sentence together, forming a paragraph and summarizing a book/passage than I have ever seen. It doesn't seem right to me that it is still so difficult more than halfway through her fifth grade year. This only comes out in her writing; her speaking and language is fine (though generally it is very simplistic).
These problems are not new to Katherine. In both first and second grade she received Title I services for reading/ ELA. She made some decent gains and was dropped for third and fourth grade. I still thought at that point that she needed extra reinforcement particularly with writing. Toward the end of fourth grade, after many discussions with her teacher (who saw some of the same problems but attributed Katherine's struggles to more of an attention/motivation concern), I decided to request an evaluation. The results indicated that she had pretty much average capabilities across the board. I would have to look back, but I don't specifically remember her being given any kind of writing assignment as part of the testing. There is no question in my mind that this would have indicated a marked weakness for her had such a test been administered.
A number of weeks after Katherine's most recent report card, I checked in with her teacher, explaining some of my serious concerns with her writing and asked her if she had made any progress since the report card came out. She said she had some of the same concerns and suggested we meet. At the meeting we both agreed that the problem was real and her teacher suggested that since her testing came back okay, perhaps we should go the medical route and see if there was another possibility (read: ADHD). After filling out parent and teacher surveys, we met with the doctor, who said, yes, based on our discussion and surveys it seems like she may have the ADHD: inattentive type. She thought medication would be the best route and though I didn't jump right on that bandwagon with Emily, by this time with Katherine, it just seemed like the right thing to do. So here we are three or four weeks in to the medicine (which is supposed to be fast acting as in immediate) and nothing has changed. She isn't on a high dose (10 mgs which could go as high as 30-40 mgs but the doctor said that is usually what they would prescribe a teen) and of course, the first medicine tried might not work. Katherine was so frustrated and worked up about this specific writing assignment that she was hysterically crying and having serious stomach pains. Seriously, I was half jokingly wondering in my own thoughts if the child needed an anti-anxiety medication as well.
I can't be their frontal lobe....my own has a problem functioning correctly for me never mind trying to do the work for someone else. So, in the instance of this assignment, I made her do half of it. I could not see forcing her to finish it in the condition she was in. The quality of her work would have suffered above and beyond the struggles she already has with it and besides that, I felt really bad for her. Should fifth grade really be this stressful? It's freaking fifth grade. Admittedly, we should have started this assignment earlier on in the weekend. Instead, we enjoyed a stress free, fun family weekend and I refuse to feel guilty about that. I am going to send in a note to her teacher with the part of the assignment that is complete and let her know that the rest will be in on Tuesday. Maybe this is a cop out. I don't know and really, I don't care.
What I do know is that for Katherine's sanity and mine, we need to figure something out, and quickly.
All advice, constructive criticism, and thoughts are welcome and appreciated.