Life As Rocket Science, Part 3: Homework

September 13, 2012 | 1 Comment

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by:  Staci Stallings

Anyone who has read the blog for a couple years now knows that my son has a lot of trouble in school.  It’s not that he’s not a hard worker.  The only one who beats him in that category is his oldest sister.  It’s that his eyes have not played fair with him and didn’t play fair when he was younger.  So in kindergarten and first grade, he missed a lot of pieces of information and knowledge that are needed to build upon later (now!).

This makes homework extremely difficult.

Now his just older sister is like I was in school.  She has to study, but she can look at something and with a few repetitions, she’s got it.

Not my son.

To “get” something, we have to repeat it and repeat it and repeat it.

Worse, simply repeating it in normal ways often doesn’t work.  For example, copying spelling words.  That sounds so logical.  To learn them, you copy them, right?  Yeah.  Not so much.

Why?  Because he tends to copy LETTERS not words.  So he will copy…


then look back at the paper and copy A

then look back at the paper and copy P

Then get tired and go get a drink of water.  Once back, he looks at the list, figures out where he is.  Copies a T.

Then the phone rings and he talks with his cousin for a few minutes.  He comes back and copies an I

Then an O.Deep in the Heart Audio cover

I come in and ask if he’s got his homework finished….

Well, no.  Not exactly.  :)

Add to this that he is only now learning to pull words apart.  To me, that was cool.  To him, it’s like brain surgery.

My eyes would look at demolition and pull it into dem o li tion with no trouble.  He looks at the WHOLE word and starts guessing about what would start with a d have an l in the middle and end with an n.

So he’s having to LEARN to do in spelling and reading what for me came naturally.

That means we are having to experiment extensively to figure out WHAT works for him because what works for him is not what most teachers and parents know to do.

Add to this that if you try something and it doesn’t work, he tends to shut down, and you’ve got a fun experiment going!

We have learned a few things since the start of this year in August (3 weeks ago).  Jumping into 20 multisyllable words a week doesn’t work.  He has to SEE the words pulled apart, not just together.  He has to do a lot of repetition of seeing the words pulled apart.  He can’t see the words MISSPELLED as homework (i.e. pick out the one that’s spelled right).  If he gets one in his head wrong, it’s a major challenge to ever get it right… so get it RIGHT the first time.

Kindle works great to send the words to it and have him read them over and over.  Flip index cards from the store also work well.  Cutting the list down to ten and then adding one or two each week so he doesn’t feel overwhelmed also helps.

It is still a challenge, but with our experimenting, we’re learning some things to do and some things not to do.  That’s how experimenting goes!  It’s more a process than a destination.


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  1. says: September 13, 2012

    thank you Staci……you are to be commended love, eileen


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