"I'm not allowed to do homework at dad's house"

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by waterfall, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Oct 12, 2011

    That's what one of my students told me today. She is generally an amazing student and will give 100% on everything. I had her last year too and she often even made up her own things to help her practice (she'd make flashcards or write herself notes to study- as a 3rd grader!) I don't recall her EVER missing an assignment and she very often went above and beyond what was asked. She has an LD, but what she lacks in ability she makes up for in effort. She made over 2 years growth last school year alone. So needless to say, I was very surprised when her new gen ed teacher told me she suddenly hadn't turned in any homework all week. I asked her about it and she told me she'd been at her dad's house and he doesn't let them (she and her siblings) do homework because "they're not wasting their time with him on homework." I know her parents went through an extremely messy divorce last year and her mother speaks about him as if he is 100% out of the picture. I'm sure she doesn't let the girls see him except what is mandated by whatever divorce agreement they settled on. The student was very upset today becuase there is no after school program on wednesdays, and she was worried about not being able to do any of her homework. She even asked me if she could come to my room instead of breakfast club in the morning to do some work. I told her she could, but that's only a 20 minute block of time. The dad only speaks Spanish, so I can't simply call him up and ask about it. Mom speaks English well enough to talk to me some, but I don't want to mention it to her and catch the student in the middle of some big fight between them (plus, I'm sure "telling" on her ex-husband is not okay). Is there something I can do?
     
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  3. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    In some Hispanic cultures education is not valued.
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Oct 12, 2011

    Is there a social worker on your staff who can assist in this matter? It sounds like something that would involve legal issues.
     
  5. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Is there anyone else at the school that could talk to him for you? I would otherwise talk to the teacher about it and what you have seen in this student and then wait to see if she does start doing her work again. The teacher may be willing to limit her homework to some degree when she is at her dad's if nothing else works so she could do it in any free class time or before school.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree that getting a social worker or counselor on board, in addition to the regular classroom teacher, would be a good idea.

    I'm not sure how there would be potential legal issues, though. Can you clarify what you mean?
     
  7. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    If she were in my class, and she honestly had this profile, I wouldn't give her zeros for the weeks she is at her dad's. If he doesn't ALLOW it, she won't be able to do it.

    Crazy! But still, she's in fourth grade and can't help who her parents are. She seems like she will overcome the insanity!
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    We don't have a social worker...would I really call social services on someone over homework? That sounds a bit extreme...
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I don't think the suggestion for a social worker or a counselor was intended as a CPS worker, but a school counselor who could maybe intervene with the father and maybe convince him of the value of school. I'm not sure what else to suggest other than asking if her gen ed teacher could reduce her homework load for the times she's at Dad's house and/or provide her with a time and place to do it at school.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    In our district, we have school social workers who are a lot like school counselors but they handle a little more of the home stuff, like working with families to get lights turned back on, set up with food banks, finding at-home tutors, etc. They are often a great resource when you have disagreements between parents that affect a kid's schooling. A school social worker isn't at all the same as CPS, at least not in my district.
     
  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    While the child is probably telling the truth, I would want to find out what father has to say. I would call father and find out what he says. I'd praise the child and let him know that you think she has a bright future. Listen, listen, listen to the father and find out his story. He might have said this in anger and only meant it for one day, not for always. If he refuses to allow his child to ever do homework, this is an issue you should take straight to your principal or vice-principal.

    Kevin
     
  12. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I should have added that you need to call him with someone in your building who speaks Spanish. My Spanish is poor, so I have done that several times with parents who only speak Spanish. It has worked out fine.

    Kevin
     
  13. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    There probably isn't a legal issue with the school, and even if there were I don't think I'd recommend pursuing it. The mother could potentially do something, though, even if the school had no cause of action. I wouldn't suggest it to her personally, as if the divorce is already messy intentionally giving out ammunition is a bad idea.

    You should probably find out what the father has to say. It could be that he worries that homework will take away all his personal time with his daughter. I don't find this an entirely unreasonable concern, given that he probably feels he can't help her with it and that she may spend a lot of time on it. Talk with him, with the aid of a native Spanish speaker if possible, and try to come to a resolution and how much of a problem it will be. Maybe there are only certain days that she goes to her dad's house.

    If he really won't budge, you could consider changing homework policy. This might help other students in your class as well, though it may also make teaching more difficult. Or you could just grade her as expected if she simply didn't do the homework, keeping in mind that it isn't really her fault.

    As a last resort, I suppose you could encourage him to discuss his homework policy with his divorce lawyer. There's a potential risk there for him should his ex-wife claim neglect and try to alter or limit visitation.
     
  14. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I mention possible legal issues because this may wind up becoming a fight about custody and visitation, and it would be a mess if the school wound up in the middle.
     
  15. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Oct 13, 2011

    Great advice! :thumb:
     
  16. AnonyMS

    AnonyMS SpEd Para! BASE room aide! RTI Facilitator!

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    Oct 13, 2011

    Call the father with an intrepreter and get his side of this story. It might very well be true.

    "Telling" on him to the mother is not your responsibility... I'm sure the child has mentioned it to her already.

    Look at the divorce decree - if the divorce was messy (as you say), then they should have the decree on file in the office. Non-custodial parents have just as much right as custodial parents do as far as the education of their child. If the father doesn't allow the children to do homework while they are with him, that's his call (not saying it's right or wrong). If you have concerns, it should be taken up with the father.
     
  17. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Why would it be bad to let the mom know what is going on? Isn't she going to get a report that lists all of the homework that hasn't been turned in. Then, she will put two and two together and realize that all of the missing homework is during the time that the girl was at her dad's house.

    So, no need to directly say, "Dad won't let her do homework." Instead, just go about it the other way, "Here is a notice that shows how many homework assignments haven't been turned in."
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that you should find a way to get in touch with Dad and let him know how important homework is. If he stands firm and doesn't want his daughter doing homework on his nights, that's his call as a parent. In that case, I'd recommend that you just go ahead and excuse any homework assignments given on nights that she was at her dad's, or give her an extension.

    I don't think you should get Mom involved in this at all. It sounds like their divorce and current arrangement are very messy, and it might be made worse with your interference. Let Mom and Dad hash out whatever they need to hash out without you instigating or initiating anything.
     

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