HOMEWORK: THIS MOM'S PERSPECTIVE
by Patricia Maurer
Blind parents face the same challenges as sighted
parents. Here Patricia Maurer brings us her perspective on one
common to all--getting the children to do their homework. Here
is what she has to say:
My husband and I are both blind. We have two wonderful
children, David and Dianna. My daughter, who is eight, does
not find her homework much of a chore. She doesn't really
enjoy it--she just is rather indifferent about it.
Our son, on the other hand, does anything he can to get
out of it. The punishment and penalties continue, but
sometimes the homework just doesn't get done.
I went to a public elementary school in a small town in
Iowa. It was the only school in the community. I was blind at
My friends, teachers, and parents read to me and, in many
instances, wrote information down on paper for me. I could not
read what I had written although I was taught to print and was
taught handwriting. In the fourth grade I learned to type on
a standard typewriter so that I could write and others could
No one ever considered teaching me Braille because there
was no one there to teach it to me. Each evening my father
would read my homework assignments to me. Once in a while he
would go to sleep reading, and I would wake him up. He had
worked all day and was tired. He wanted to help me and did,
but sometimes it was not easy.
Later in junior high or high school I learned about the
Library for the Blind, and some of my textbooks became
available on record. I listened to them on a long-playing
I had a tiny amount of vision, and although I tried, I
could not ever really effectively use large-print materials.
But, oh, when those books came to me on record--I not only
read textbooks but began reading novels. You see, I had never
read many novels because there was never time for anyone to
read them to me. I would occasionally check something out from
the public library, but it took too much effort to read it.
In high school I learned Braille. I spent an entire
summer learning to read and write Braille. Now, for the first
time in my life, I had a way to write something down, and I
could read it for myself.
Although I did not have much confidence, others in the
National Federation of the Blind, both by example and just by
taking the time to talk to me, made me begin to understand
that I could do more. I went to college, and boy, did I read
and write. I studied all the time. Well, most of the time. I
got a degree in elementary education and became certified to
teach elementary and special education.
My first teaching job was in a small school in Iowa
teaching reading to third and fourth-grade children. These
children were sighted, and I was blind. I remember talking
with the administration of the school and landing the job.
When I got it I thought, now I have to figure out how to get
I hired a high-school student to read to me. He and I
made games, and I Brailled materials. The children used print,
and I used Braille. It was a wonderful summer, and I got a
contract for the next year. I took another offer, and my
husband and I were married and moved away from that small
You see, I was thinking about my reading and my homework,
because I am trying to figure out how to get that boy of ours
to do his work. I want him to learn to love to read, because
it is so important when it comes to learning and living a
complete life. He's not blind. He can pick up any book and
just read. It seems so much easier for him than it was for me
when I was doing my homework.
But for now his books and homework pages sometimes get
lost. The assignments seem very hard. He doesn't want to read
them out loud so that we can help. He just wants us to know
the answers. Soon, I hope he will begin to look for the
answers and read the assignments. Because if he does, I know
he will find at least some of it interesting.
I know there will be the nights when my husband and I
nearly fall asleep helping the children with their homework.
There are the nights that we are relieved just as much as the
children because there is not much homework. I believe that if
I ever go back to teaching I won't be able to help the fact
that I now have a mom's perspective on homework.