Homework and Special Education
I'm a psychologist and a parent and have a keen interest in the relationship between homework problems and special education. It has been my observation that large numbers of students end up in special education for behavioral problems when they actually have what I call under-the-radar learning problems in disguise. These minor learning issues, often difficulties with working memory and processing speed, manifest in difficulties at home more than they do at school. Since the school day is bound by the clock, these students are able to do what they can within the timeframe allowed. They then go home.
At home, these problems have an inverse impact on homework time. Children without these problems get their work done quickly. Those with these problems take longer, in fact, longer than we can reasonably expect. Instead of giving them the relief they need, parents and teachers get together to pressure these children to get their work done. The children rebel and end up appearing to have behavioral problems. Eventually, they get evaluated and classified, and possibly sent to alternative classrooms or alternative schools where, voila, they are no longer given much homework to do. These students would do much better if they had limits on homework at the beginning. I think this process strains resources and misdirects attention to problems that have been manufactured by the system.
In my practice as a psychologist, I talk with parents whose children are in the situation I just described. I typically recommend that they place time boundaries on the homework their children have to do. I think this approach would free child study teams to put their attention where it really belongs. What do you think?