More yr 7 Homework angst. Please help

(45 Posts)
indignatio Wed 02-Oct-13 14:46:24

DS has moved from state primary to a selective indie school. He is really struggling with the amount of homework that is expected. He has been used to one or two items of homework per week rather than 3 to 4 subjects per night.

We have set up a system where he has 10 minutes chill out time (usually on the trampoline) on his return from school - he doesn't arrive home until 5.30. Then straight on with homework. I try to cook for him at 7pm and any time after the end of homework and before supper can be spent on screen time.

I do like him to go to be between 8 and 8.30 because he likes to read and has to get up at 6am.

Some homeworks do take 20 minutes, but just one page of written work or detailed drawings take him far far longer.

Whilst he does as much as he can on the day it is set, our timings do mean that he ends up with 7 or more homeworks over the weekend. He only has two after school/evening commitments per week.

I am assuming that those children from prep schools are far more used to regular homework and getting through tasks quickly. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I don't want to go to the school to say he is taking too long, I don't want him to be taking too long. I think I need:
1. Ways to help him speed up
2. Reassurance that he will speed up - a timescale for how long this will take would also be appreciated.
3. To be told whether stopping him at 7pm to feed him, and not pushing him to do anymore after supper is reasonable or not.

Many thanks if you have bothered to wade through all my angst and detail.

Bunbaker Wed 02-Oct-13 14:51:40

He has a very long day. Why does the journey home take so long?

indignatio Wed 02-Oct-13 14:58:57

Bunbaker, school finishes at 4pm, he then has to walk to the station, take the train for a couple of stops and then wait for the bus.

lovetoski Wed 02-Oct-13 14:58:57

If he isn't in until 5.30 and is hungry could you not serve evening meal earlier 6pm then once eaten it is homework time. Say 1 to 1 1/2 hours finished by 7.30 screen time for 1/2 then bed.
My ds year 8 trys to do the majority on the night set but will leave any art which does take longer until the weekend plus Friday nights and does it Sunday morning.

lljkk Wed 02-Oct-13 15:06:16

Can't he do some homework on the bus or train? In time-honoured fashion. 6am start sounds killer although my teens do it, come to think of it (morning ablutions take ages).

Bearleigh Wed 02-Oct-13 15:06:45

Sounds to me like too much homework. BabyBearleigh is at a selective indie school, with good results and he gets two homeworks a night, and he's in the 4th year (ie just started GCSE work). The school made a conscious decison to reduce homework, as they realised it was counter-productive.

curlew Wed 02-Oct-13 15:09:42

What does the school say? How long do they expect him to spend on homework a night?

indignatio Wed 02-Oct-13 15:16:51

Lovetoski. He is not hungry when he gets home. The other thought is to delay his supper until 7.30 so he has more time to work/play.

Lljkk. I think vocab learning would be possible on the train, bus.

Bearleigh. I can't change the school ethos, nor would I want to, we did choose the school on the basis it would "fit" DS.

Curlew. The school say 20 mins per subject and it is possible to write in the planner that the incomplete homework done was done in say 30 mins. However, DS does like to do his best and so would feel uncomfortable in handing in a half completed piece of work.

Tuhlulah Wed 02-Oct-13 16:08:56

My DS also just started Yr7.

Our routine:

He arrives home approx 4.45 (finishes at 4pm, but likes to get bus with mates, which i consider to be a good social event for him, as the bus journey sounds fun, so I don't urge him to get an earlier bus. he has to have some life too)

Cup of tea and snack. We 'agree' that he will have some free time and then get down to the nasty stuff by 5.30. This allows for one piece of homework to be done.

We eat early, at 6pm. (This can take an hour if we are very naughty and watch a TV while we eat). So say at 7pm he has to go back to it. This will usually be another two pieces.

He has until 8.30 when he has to perform ablutions and go to bed, reading until 9pm, then lights out. Goodnight Vienna.

We have sorted out a homework plan, which bits to do on what days. His homework is set in either 20/30 or 40 minutes parts, with an hour for Art/DT, etc. We have arranged so that the big things like Art/DT/IT are done at the weekend, when he has more time/patience. But weekdays, if he has a 20 minute bit then he also does a 40 minute bit. And on the days when he doesn't get set homework for that subject, I try to persuade him to bring one piece forward.

This includes Saturday and Sunday, even Friday evening.

Last night he realised he had forgotten to bring home his Maths books, so couldn't do homework due in today. Minor panic but we accepted he would get a detention after school for forgetting to take home books/do homework. Then, I looked at timetable and realised he has two break periods and he can go to library to do homework in those periods (NOT ideal, I know, but needs must when the devil drives).

So far we are managing, and he's not fraught or anxious.

So, in short (because I have been lengthy, sorry) he has to realise this is his responsibility. Then (if you haven't already) you need to organise his time (with his input and agreement) to create a 'do-able' rota.

Also, he needs to do it with some breaks, children's concentration is approx 20 minutes.

I strongly recommend some incentive/reward system, so when he manages to do all his set homework for one day he gets some treat, whatever that may be. And at the end of a week in which he has managed it all, another treat.

At (state) primary, my DS was a nightmare about homework. We had loads of silly projects, and I did most of them. Now I realise this can't happen, so i don't correct his homework (hard though this is). It's my job to get him to find the time to do it. It's his teacher's job (plural) to correct it and teach him better for next time.

It's about time management. he can do it but you are going to need to help him in the beginning. Also, It's a huge change and that makes us all tired. Remember how tiring it is when you start a new job? He may not be firing on all cylinders just yet. Also his days are long, up at 6am. Could you get him to bed for 8, then lights out at 8.30?

And I agree, handing in incompleted pieces of work will make him feel anxious in the run up to handing in/getting back, etc, and he needs to do what's set. You will get there, I'm sure. he's probably never had to organise his time before, so you need to show him how.

Good luck.

curlew Wed 02-Oct-13 16:10:41

Ah. Then you need to put your foot down. Timer on for 20 minute- or maybe 30- then stop. Otherwise the school won't know there's an issue.

Tuhlulah Wed 02-Oct-13 16:17:06

yes, I agree with Curlew too. If he can't do it all -when he is into a settled routine, and not just settling in like now -then he has to stop. He has to do it in the time that's given, because as Curlew says, the school won't know what he can and can't do in the time allotted. This was one of the things the head teacher went on about a lot as DS's school Information Evening.

bigTillyMint Wed 02-Oct-13 16:27:24

He has an extremely long day with the time spent travelling, but he is going to have to find a way of time-managing (with some support from you) if he is to be successful in his school - I expect they will have high expectations of the quality of the work. Could he do some at lunchtime in the library? Does he have to get up at 6? Then he could maybe have more time in the evening and get up say half an hour later?

My DC go to a state comp which usually sets 3 (or even 4) pieces of homework a night.
DD was/is always happy to spend as much time as each homework required to get her best result, DS does the optimum for himwink FWIW they also do a lot of hours of sport which we count as equally important as the academic side.

Bunbaker Wed 02-Oct-13 18:21:33

DD is in year 9. She gets nothing like this amount of homework.
This year's GCSE results were 80% A* - C including maths and English BTW.

castlesintheair Wed 02-Oct-13 18:32:37

indignatio, my DS can do quite a lot of his homework (and he doesn't have anything like yours) in study periods at school. They seem to encourage it. Is this something your DS can do?

Good luck with it. I've heard from most of my friends with older DCs that the adjustment in Year 7 is really hard (especially for ones like ours moving from state to indie) and can take all year.

ItsDecisionTime Wed 02-Oct-13 18:37:59

I think if he's spending more than 30 minutes on each subject and not managing to get it done, you should go and see his tutor. It may be he is in the wrong set and is being pushed too quickly. There's nothing more damaging to their confidence at that age. An 8 - 8.30 bedtime seems excessively early for a 11/12 year old. Perhaps if you moved that back to say 9-9.30, he wouldn't be so pressured into cramming homework into his very short free time and would feel less resentful of it.

NoComet Wed 02-Oct-13 18:49:25

This is why DD2 doesn't go to the grammar school, the odd A* isn't worth giving up your childhood.

Ladymuck Wed 02-Oct-13 18:52:45

There are a lot of factors at play here.
1) the travel time
2) the amount of prep he is getting - what do the school say: how many hours per week are meant to be set in total? Ds's school has one night a week with no prep in year 7 to allow the children to play fixtures etc but it also allows midweek catch-up.
3) the speed and level of detail he is spending on his homework

Personally I think you're right to keep sleep as the priority in the first weeks of Year 7. And some homework will usually drift into the weekend. I have ds's timetable labelled with what prep is due in, and he will check that even more religiously than his planner.

The travel time is an issue imo. And not so much now - wait until he gets to his exam years! 3 hours a day is not really maintainable, especially if it is not by train/coach where he can work if he gets a seat.

Speed - I suspect he should be getting faster, but if he isn't then you need to work out whether he is faffing, developing perfectionist tendencies or not understanding the subject matter.

How is ds feeling about all of this?

Waferthinmint Wed 02-Oct-13 18:59:46

Just to say first, I work in a selective independent school.

Our students have 20 min per subject (3 per night) in yr 7. We insist they don't take more than this and ask that they initial where they got up to. It is important to do this as any problems with processing or writing speed can be picked up long before exams. No long in spending an hour on prep when exams are timed. We don't know if there are problems unless parents inform us. Also, the occasional teacher sets too much prep, agiain we don't know unless getting feedback from pupils.

You aren't causing a fuss, just raining awareness of the situation. Ask how school can support your son to get his prep finished in the time allocated.

Bunbaker Wed 02-Oct-13 19:01:45

"An 8 - 8.30 bedtime seems excessively early for a 11/12 year old. Perhaps if you moved that back to say 9-9.30, he wouldn't be so pressured into cramming homework into his very short free time and would feel less resentful of it."

I think that is unrealistic. He has to get up at 6am.

curlew Wed 02-Oct-13 19:09:29

"Curlew. The school say 20 mins per subject and it is possible to write in the planner that the incomplete homework done was done in say 30 mins. However, DS does like to do his best and so would feel uncomfortable in handing in a half completed piece of work."

It doesn't matter if he would feel uncomfortable. You have to take charge here. If the school say 20 minutes a subject then that's what he should do.

I can't quite work out from your post how long he is taking, though. He only has 3 hours between getting home and bed- is he spending all that time on homework? Apart from supper?

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 02-Oct-13 19:12:38

Gosh that is a lot

Dd has similar if not worse timings (incidentally she went to a prep where she hit approximately 10-20 mind homework 3 days a week

She gets up at 6pm to be out of the house by 7.15am, only for her school doesn't finish until 6pm (it's a vocational performing arts school where they dance from 4-6pm

She gets in at approximate 7.30-8pm (having eaten at school)

She gets approximately 2-3 pieces if homework per night (1 day per week there is none, mist nights it's 2, 1 night is 3) and usually gets a full week to complete it

She usually does 1 piece in a morning when she gets to school before registration & 1 piece at night. She has Saturday morning school but then does some homework in the afternoon

Sunday is a strictly no homework day

I reckon each piece of homework has been taking about 20 mins to complete

If she was at normal school there is no way she would cope with what you describe as she was dancing 3 days from 4pm-7pm plus Saturdays.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 02-Oct-13 19:14:17

Forgot to day bedtime is 9pm. It really should be 8.30pm considering the early start but we feel she needs done relax time.

indignatio Wed 02-Oct-13 20:09:04

Thank you all for your advice.

Sorry for the delay in responding, DS arrived home tonight at 6.40 (one of his after school activities) and is only now eating supper, with his English reading to do in bed and his French at break - having forgotten to bring home his relevant text books.

Pictures: it is always comforting to know that someone has it worse, and I think your dd wins on that. Please give her a hug from me.

Curlew: whilst I agree that he should be only spending 20 mins per homework, some are taking significantly longer. I think that this is down to not understanding the need to "just get on with it" and to make a decision and run with it. He has already spoken to his form teacher, who is aware of the situation. However, he is in a class with others who seem (and. I could be wrong) to be able to cope with the amount set. Many of these come from a prep background and I wonder if the expectations placed on them in the primary years have put them in a better position to cope with the expected requirements of senior school. The 3 hours he has usually only allow for homework, supper and a shower before bed.

Re sleep: I think he needs the 8/8.30 bedtime. He is not a morning person!

Waferthinmint: I completely understand where you are coming from as a teacher. However, I think DS needs to get into the mindset of what is expected and thus increase his output in the time given. I would just be interested to know how long this is likely to take - one year sounds like an awfully long time to me.

He is currently trying to walk the line between great work which takes forever and work he is not happy with which is done in the allotted time.

Ladymuck: DS loves loves loves his school. And hates his homework. I think part of it is a mindset because he has never had to see home as somewhere to work before. I am sure study time on public transport will come into its own in due course. However my little pedant cannot as yet see that making the most of ever available minute is a good thing - homework is done at the dining room table of an evening.

Castles, ah name from the past, big wave. Hope your dreamer is as great as ever. Let's hope it is not a full year to acclimatise.

Tuhlula: how long do you think it should take to "settle"?

BigTillyMint: I also think that the extra curricular activities are vital, but trying to find a balance isn't easy

bigTillyMint Wed 02-Oct-13 20:18:33

It may well be that the level of homework settles down a bit after half-term/he gets used to doing it and so a bit quicker. If not, I would contact the school and ask for advice.

Iamnotminterested Wed 02-Oct-13 20:34:12

Can't he do some in the library at lunchtime?? DD does, very disciplined, although she gets no where near as much as your son.
Poor kid, loos like work, work, work.

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