DS (12) feeling schoolwork/homework is relentless

(112 Posts)
BlogOnTheTyne Thu 27-Feb-14 12:55:09

He keeps saying, "Is this what life's all about then? Just work?" In term-time, his entire life revolves around lessons and then homework - this latter taking up most of the evening and lots of the weekend.

It's all going to get a lot harder too, as he gets nearer to public exams. He's happy at school - socially - and holding his own academically (v academically selective school) and wouldn't want to change schools.

It's more an attitude of mind and a reality and he sees me working most of my waking hours anyway (solo mum/ fully self employed/ family solely reliant on my income). I can't really say to him - by example - 'actually it's not all about work', when this feels a bit like the reality to me too.

However, when I was 12, I certainly didn't have a life revolving around work and exams and there seemed a lot more downtime. Is he a product of the 21st century and will just have to find a way of tolerating life as it is - or is there much I can say or do to help him feel differently?

HisMum4 Mon 03-Mar-14 19:51:46

Martorana, what do you know about selective schools?

rabbitstew Mon 03-Mar-14 19:55:35

14 lots of different homework in one week sounds bizarre to me. How many subjects is your ds studying, OP?!!!

Martorana Mon 03-Mar-14 19:57:29

"Martorana, what do you know about selective schools?"

Well, apart from having a child just finishing in one, and her and her brother having friends round regularly for the past 6.5 years who go to 7 different other ones, absolutely nothing! grin

rabbitstew Mon 03-Mar-14 19:58:10

HisMum4 - I don't see how you can have too much homework if you cope with it easily? Surely that's a perfectly alright amount for you if you cope with it easily?! Or do you mean, all children in selective schools have too much homework, but don't realise it because they lead such deadly dull lives where they have nothing more interesting to do than the homework set them by school? grin

HisMum4 Mon 03-Mar-14 21:42:27

All academic schools give out a lot of homework, this is part of the reasons why these schools are academic and why parents have chosen those schools for their DS/DD.

Students should be able to cope with this workload well and to have time and energy left for a reasonably balanced life. This is the case for vast majority.

There are however DS that spend more time on hw and this does put their life off balance. In case of my DS this is due to special needs. We are dealing with this. I often hear from DS's school about other students that are struggling because according to the school they got in there due to tutoring. My view is that there should be a reason why DSs are struggling with the workload.

I am not sure the general debate about suitability of homework is necessary or useful to OP.

Martorana Mon 03-Mar-14 21:45:37

"All academic schools give out a lot of homework, this is part of the reasons why these schools are academic and why parents have chosen those schools for their DS/DD."

Not always, not it isn't and not usually!

HmmAnOxfordComma Tue 04-Mar-14 07:34:14

Lots of academic schools (grammars, top comps and Indies) are also proud of not giving out lots of homework because they work so hard and with meaning in lessons and are lucky to have less disruption, on the whole. Some/most also have longer days meaning they don't need to give out loads of homework.

I counted back through ds's planner last night (yr 8). Between 7 - 10 pieces per wk. Some took longer than others (geog essay, English essay, revision - how long is a piece of string?) and others were much shorter. I reckon 4-5 hours a wk absolute max.

rabbitstew Tue 04-Mar-14 07:54:55

I don't see why an academic school would need to give tonnes of homework - surely academic children pick concepts up more readily and need less practice to cement them? A truly academic child could then read around the subject for pleasure in their own free time, unhampered by their school's pointless demands for homework the OP has said they don't even mark half the time grin.

Suttonmum1 Tue 04-Mar-14 08:05:10

I chose my son's super selective in part because it is known for a more sensible homework policy, he does not get tons of homework.

Needmoresleep Tue 04-Mar-14 10:50:32

OP I really feel for you. Now the end is in sight I have been able to give up the full time job I had to fund both school fees and a London mortgage. Juggling it all was tough.

Was it worth it? I regret not having the time or energy for my children, DH, our house and to some extent for me. However I am optimistic that DC will look back and feel that the investment in their education (meaning more than grades) was worthwhile. Me earning has also meant that we are now better off than we would have been. Plus I suspect I might have been bored not working.

It is not for much longer, indeed time will go far faster than you think.

Suggestions:

1. Family night in. Maybe Friday nights. Box set of your favourite DVD and heat and serve curry or pizza. We watched our way through a James Bond set, and more recently the Mentalist.
2. As others have suggested try to programme. So on a Saturday you all give yourselves a couple of hours work (eg without stressing it a set task with a time limit) then off to a farmers market, the local park with cricket bats or maybe a trip to the South Bank or a Museum. (Time out in a physical sense, eg getting outside and doing some exercise is very important. Maybe when it gets warmer a trip to the Lido, with a picnic and if need be some reading or things that can be tested.)

Its tough. You are in this together, but somehow it needs to be more fun.

I would then tackle why homework takes so long. My DC somehow managed the "good enough" principle fairly early. Their standard school reports refers to the need for them to pay more care and attention. Its Ok. They get through the workload without too much fuss and are doing fine.

The really important thing is to really listen in class. If you do, revising for tests becomes much easier. Often no more than reading through it on the journey into school.

Squeeze as much as you can into the school day. 15 minutes break..then sit down with a friend and work on the maths together. The ones with the busy sports or music schedules manage by heading for the library at lunchtime, or staying there for an hour after school.

Look at how they learn. The student room website has quite a lot of study material, in different formats including mind mapping etc. DD has processing issues and we cracked it when we realised her aural memory is good. Sending her off to her room to revise meant she spent hours not achieving much. Bursts of testing her verbally is much quicker. Learning, especially language learning, works better if you mix around where and how you learn.

Unless there is something obviously wrong, I would not worry about further diagnostics. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and need to make the most of what we have. If the school has some sort of SENCO/study support, it might be worth asking for an appointment to see them to discuss how your son can improve his time management and effectiveness. This might allow for a discussion with him and an agreed approach. If this includes a maximum time to be spend on any one homework he can then be supported by his class teacher. This ought to help him get faster. Some children will appear to be breezing through it all. I doubt all them are really bright. Some are just use their time more effectively. Great life skills to learn at an early stage.

I would then scour Council websites and other places for cheap holiday courses. For example there used to be some very cheap introduction to rowing courses offered by the relevant National Sports body. More expensive but still good value are things like the Smallpeice trust. Even an exchange. DD used to spend a few days with a girl she met on holiday and who lived in the country, and then we gave the girl a few days London experience. Both were envious of the other!

HmmAnOxfordComma Wed 05-Mar-14 07:34:42

Lots of academic schools (grammars, top comps and Indies) are also proud of not giving out lots of homework because they work so hard and with meaning in lessons and are lucky to have less disruption, on the whole. Some/most also have longer days meaning they don't need to give out loads of homework.

I counted back through ds's planner last night (yr 8). Between 7 - 10 pieces per wk. Some took longer than others (geog essay, English essay, revision - how long is a piece of string?) and others were much shorter. I reckon 4-5 hours a wk absolute max.

totallyuseless Wed 05-Mar-14 08:16:15

My son fees the same. Year 8 is a big step up from year 7 they are learning lots of new topics and are expected to do more independent study and research, which is time consuming.

I am trying to help my son with the research and planning so he feels less daunted by the amount of work. I found by breaking the homework into smaller chunks he feels more able to cope.

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