Projects = HW for parents.

(47 Posts)
Startail Sat 09-Mar-13 17:46:17

DD2 has to build a weather station.
Why, I thought this rubbish ended in primary school.
Models of Castles and doodle bugs are bad enough, but at least they are just cardboard.

This needs more craft skills than she has, and bits and pieces that mean DHs shed. DH has real work to do to earn actual money.

When we have built it she's supposed to take a weeks worth of data. Not a chance she'll remember, more HW for me!

Just why? She might learn a bit watching met office videos, but she really isn't infused.

BackforGood Sat 09-Mar-13 17:50:50

Because this practical sort of homework inspires some dc - maybe not your dd, but some children who might really struggle with written stuff, really come alive when given a challenge like this.

It's not homework for you though - she needs to leave herself notes or whatever to remember, or take the consequences. There's no incentive for her to learn if you and dh are planning to do it for her. Indeed, it's pupils that get their parents to do it, that make the dc who have done it all themselves, feel inadequate sometimes - although of course the teachers know the child's not done it, it can be a bit depressing for other pupils to see something that 'dh has made in his shed' sat next to their solo attempts.

Startail Sat 09-Mar-13 23:41:20

She can't do it her self except in the most Micky mouse way. That's the problem. Even the most primitive weather gadgets need a certain amount of engineering and bits finding.

Even a simple rain gauge with a funnel and a narrow measuring tube needs maths she doesn't know.

It would be ok if they had done it a bit in class and a bit in school like the long history projects, but they haven't.

I suspect it's just a very poorly thought out sop for the fact that geography normal give out almost no HW at all (hence me forgetting it).

Startail Sat 09-Mar-13 23:42:20

Bit in class, bigger bit at home, like history.

Kez100 Sun 10-Mar-13 01:43:29

You are thinking it as an adult and that's not the point.

She could make a rain gauge using a open top vessel and ruler taped to the side. So long as she has thought of the correct testing conditions (I e make sure the ruler is at 0 at bottom and where you would place it so you didn't get an inaccurate reading.

Obviously it can get a lot more complicated than that but that is putting a different persons view on it and that's not the point.

OnGoldenPond Sun 10-Mar-13 18:09:30

As you are posting in Secondary education, I presume your DD is at least in year 7 so should be perfectly capable of doing this project.

Maybe you could offer some practical ideas on how she could approach it, but the actual doing should be down to her.

Certainly she should be capable of remembering to take data for a week, she needs to be organising her own work schedule at this age. If she forgets, that is down to her and she will have to explain the absence of results to her teacher.

Startail Mon 11-Mar-13 11:29:40

Yes she can do something by herself, but she won't learn anything, except that geography is annoying.

Without support and discussion a Y7 isn't going to learn the science behind making accurate instruments.

A pot and a ruler will probably teach her drizzle evaporates away before you measure it.

My scientist Y10 could probably make a pretty good attempt, but without guidance and a much more structured outline of the write up required DD2 is really struggling.

Startail Mon 11-Mar-13 11:32:03

Absent results, come off it?

DD2 may be awful at craft and practical things, but she's a wiz at google and writing fiction!

ThingummyBob Mon 11-Mar-13 11:33:58

I agree OP I hate homework for parents. Some of it is very lazy teaching imho.

Startail Mon 11-Mar-13 12:37:36

It does feel rather lazy HW as it's geography for the half term, with no staged input at all.

History do something similar, but it's really tightly tied to each weeks lessons and they ask the DCs to bring stuff in to show they are doing it.

This is just, we're doing climate, go forth and build a weather station and bring in a few photos.
This would be fine if it didn't also say - this is the whole 1/2 terms HW, therefore a few photos and a few scribbled results won't do.

ByTheWay1 Mon 11-Mar-13 15:20:07

it is a standard Y7 project - parental input is not needed.

Rain gauge - straight sided jar with a rule IS fine,

thermometer in a shaded spot is fine,

notes taken on weather 2 or 3 times a day for a month, in a spreadsheet - including a photo of the sky at the time - analyse cloud types, temperature, levels of precipitation,

estimate wind speed from the Beaufort scale (google) - put flag on a thin stick in the garden/out the window to help this one

take photos of the kit, label it and list any assumptions made - present in a folder with results tabulated for the month.

this is all really stuff that a Y7 child CAN do on their own

Startail Mon 11-Mar-13 16:33:54

Could, but sodding well won't without nagging.

Photos of clouds is a good idea and I meant to say Beaufort to her, I did it at guides a million years ago. Thanks.

"When we have built it she's supposed to take a weeks worth of data. Not a chance she'll remember, more HW for me!"

Christ, don't buy her a goldfish or a guinea pig will you? If she can't remember to do something on a daily basis for a week, she really deserves the crap mark she'll get as a result. Please don't take the readings for her. It will be good practice for her to need to remember to do this.

Blissx Mon 11-Mar-13 18:35:22

You doing your DD's homework for her in the past has obviously resulted in this current situation. Are you telling me that she cannot put a ruler in a jar, or put a thermometer up and then taken readings over a few days. Good grief.

OddBoots Mon 11-Mar-13 18:40:25

"Could, but sodding well won't without nagging. "

Don't nag unless you want to nag her through her GCSEs and A Levels and beyond. Let her do her best, whatever that is, and let the school deal with her weaknesses. By all means have a talk to her and explain this plan and ask her if she wants any reminders at any point but give her the control, she is old enough.

Sparklingbrook Mon 11-Mar-13 18:45:35

Bet you feel much better now you have started this thread Startail sad I know exactly what you mean if that makes you feel any better.

OddBoots Mon 11-Mar-13 18:48:58

It probably sounds like I'm having a go but I promise I'm not, I know how hard it is to let them stand on their own feet but it is worth it, so worth it.

Sparklingbrook Mon 11-Mar-13 18:50:58

perhaps if the thread was in Chat it would have been different? I don't know, maybe a bit of 'i know they are a real pain aren't they' and then the suggestions.

bonzoed Mon 11-Mar-13 19:00:40

It's interesting to read this. Both my DCs are still at primary but they do their homework and projects themselves although we will source what they need once they have decided what they need. Invariably any 'making' type project they do is the worst in the class because there is minimal/zero adult input. They have never won a prize because their's looks the least professional. Our motivation for doing it like this has been so they can use their initiative and learn from the exercise. I hope this will pay off by the time they get to Yr7.

Sparklingbrook Mon 11-Mar-13 19:03:16

I find that with DS1 unless it is a fascinating subject for him these projecty things can be hard going.

Having just chosen his Options he has been able to drop some subjects that require this sort of thing.

Geography coursework taught me the importance of being able to make up convincing data. Obviously there are lots of internet sources of weather data available. All your DD needs to do is find a reasonable source of data and if she forgets to make her recordings she can just use the internet data.

AScorpionPitForMimes Mon 11-Mar-13 21:34:38

I sincerely hope DD1 won't get this as we are away over Easter. She could certainly do it herself, but like the OP I think it is lazy, pointless homework. With the cake castle we at least ended up with something edible at the end of it all.

tiredaftertwo Mon 11-Mar-13 22:03:50

OP, I agree. And not only is it not edible but you will never use it again and it will get filled up with horrible green slime. At least a castle is something nice to keep.

I wish my house had all the bits and bobs needed for this sort of thing in one place, constantly replenished, next to an always functioning printer that never runs out of ink just when you need it. But we don't. And that is down to us, as parents. If it is so quick and easy, and the children can do it on their own without adult input, why don't they do it in school and bring the nice tidy worksheets that don't involve tools and parcel tape and jam jars home?

I'm impressed that so many year 7s can plan work over several weeks. I've never met any. My dc get on just fine independently with written homework including longer projects, now they are older, but in year 7, in a small chaotic busy house, they needed help. Which I was happy to give them, occasionally, but I am not sure the teachers realised how long it could take to work out which printer settings you needed to reduce photos so they all fit on one page, if that is not your bag, and it is not geography either.

Startail Wed 13-Mar-13 15:56:05

"I find that with DS1 unless it is a fascinating subject for him these projecty things can be hard going."

Sparkling You have hit the nail squarely on the head.

The rest of us are scientists to the core, she isn't. She can do it and do it well if the subject catchers her imagination, but if it doesn't its a real uphill struggle.

Frustrating in the extreme, because she's very clever and can do it.

I just feel, that a bit more input from the class teacher, brain storming ideas in class and generally encouraging them, would in Y7, have been nice.

Sparklingbrook Wed 13-Mar-13 16:46:27

Exactly Startail some projects children will find fascinating, others will leave them cold. I get fed up with the endless trips to Hobbycraft for bits and pieces that will be used once and cost £££££s. sad

The project hangs over us until it's done, generally all over the dining table/kitchen.

Haven't had one since the 'Model of the solar System' one. There must be one due......

GreatUncleEddie Wed 13-Mar-13 17:27:27

Mine are yr7 and yr9 now. I never fail to be amazed by what they can do if I just back away and leave them to it. The mantra since yr3 has been "it's your homework, not mine", I don't even have to say it any more. The younger one sometimes has what I would call an idiosyncratic approach but he gets very high marks so no doubt it is age appropriate grin

Happymum22 Wed 13-Mar-13 23:02:03

Can your DD not manage... (/you not prompt these steps)
1. Google 'how to make a weather station' (first result =
2. Get the materials i.e. ruler, water bottle, card board etc. all things in most households/school can provide if you ask the art department
3. she follows online instructions, asks if she is unsure and you can help her
4. she sets alarm on her phone reminding her to measure

These projects are designed to ensure pupils REALLY understand and are enthused also invite parent interaction- the number 1 predictor of attainment is parent involvement. Obviously not doing it for her but prompting and helping her find the resources and praising/paying interest.

When my DC were given these sort of projects I prompted but didn't 'do it' at all and was always amazed how much they got into it and learnt.

Give it a chance smile

GreatUncleEddie Thu 14-Mar-13 07:41:11

Yes absolutely. I prompt too. And say things like "We're going out this afternoon so if you're doing homework you've got until 12:00". I actually think they prefer it when it is "their thing".

Startail Thu 14-Mar-13 08:45:54

I love smug parents.
If course you can hint , scaffold and nag, in the end you still end up doing it because you need to get dinner cooked and on with the rest of life and you are sick of standing over her or coming back and finding she's typed 3 words.

Yes I'd love just to drop her in it for being madam, but she'd fetch up in such a state the night before that we'd up up staying up all night fudging something.

If I just let her get detention she will just decide she hates Geography.

I don't want her hating geography, it's a nice subject and one of the easiest academic GCSEs (loads of cross over with science and general knowledge, it also contains people which she likes).

I'm guessing I should have moaned in chat not here, sorry.

OnGoldenPond Thu 14-Mar-13 09:15:05

I don't think anyone is being smug, they are just pointing out that your DD CAN do it if she has to.

If she thinks that you will do it all for her if she moans/ flounces enough then she will let you - who wouldn't?

Look, I sympathise, have been there especially with DS, and I know that if you make it clear that you are not going to do their homework that they will just get on with it. Honestly, your DD is so much more capable than you realise!

I bet you that it won't get as far as her getting a detention - once she realises that you are serious she will pull her finger out and do it. Neither will she end up hating geography.

Go on, sit back and let her show you what she is capable of! smile

bonzoed Thu 14-Mar-13 09:34:04

I'm sorry but I don't see why you would end up doing it. It is HER homework. You have obviously made a habit of doing her homework and now she doesn't actually think that it is her responsibility. I am sure her teacher is really not interested in what you can do, he/she wants to know what your daughter can do.

Give your daughter a chance to shine - she may (pleasantly) surprise everyone.

BackforGood Thu 14-Mar-13 17:30:30

I don't see anyone being smug either. In my case, I have 3 dc - the middle one would get on with it, the other two won't, but that still doesn't mean it ends up being my homework. By "ending up staying up all night fudging something." you are just teaching her that if she doesn't do it, then "gets herself in a state" you will do it for her. It's a bit like toddler tantrums really - yes, of course it's easier in the short term to give in for a quiet life, but long term you are making life a whole lot more difficult.

GreatUncleEddie Thu 14-Mar-13 20:35:35

No I won't end up doing it. They will do it themselves and they will do it very well. Probably because they have known since they were tiny that I won't do it for them and then moan about choosing to do so, as you seem to do OP. Maybe that is why they are such high achievers. You seem to be misunderstanding the point of education.

Sparklingbrook Thu 14-Mar-13 20:39:10

<imagines tiny children going to Hobbycraft and stocking up on project supplies>

ihearsounds Thu 14-Mar-13 20:47:32

Homework isn't for parents. I dont do hw for my dc's, I had enough to do when I was in school.
You mentioned that at least in school they could brain storm within the class - you do realize that this doesn't have to remain confined in the class do you? Have none of her group though about meeting up after school to do hw together?

It isn't about being a smug parent, but it is about raising dc's to understand that they have to take responsibility for themselves. Doesn't matter if it's hw, gsce revision or whatever else. They need to made aware that their actions have consequences. And if that means she gets into trouble for not doing her homework, so what? She will have learned that she has to do things that she might not like sometimes. She will have learned that sometimes life is hard.

Startail Fri 15-Mar-13 01:16:03

No it's only anything involving craft, I end up doing, she wouldn't let me within a million miles of most of her HW.

Her teachers would know, her writing is way way neater than mine and she can spell!

Trouble with DD2 is she far too clever and knows how to make life so painful for everyone else we let her get away with it.

I choose my battles and pointless HW projects isn't one of them.

Startail Fri 15-Mar-13 01:22:05

I have no worries that she'll revise for exams, she's as competitive as she is stubborn. No way will she get lower grades than her sister.

Also, a long time ago, I said she call me an idiot when she gets a better degree than me. I bet she remembers.

Sparklingbrook Fri 15-Mar-13 06:55:54

Some children are arty crafty and some aren't. The school can't expect every child to find every project wildly exciting.

I don't get involved with DS1's HW unless he asks either Startail. Although I did help him with his French last night so hope i haven't broken any rules. grin

cory Fri 15-Mar-13 08:33:14

My ds is exactly like this, but I am afraid I do drop him in it. If he can't remember what he is supposed to be doing, he takes that detention.

I have some sympathy with your dd for struggling with the crafty bit, but as for "no chance that she will remember taking the data", I am afraid I think she needs to be to taught a lesson. This is where ds gets told that "that's what detentions are for, to jog your memory".

He is doing a fair few detentions at the moment, for this very reason that he can't be arsed to remember his HW, but I am standing firm and letting the school know that I support them.

OnGoldenPond Fri 15-Mar-13 10:43:28

Star, you don't "end up" doing it, you choose to do it.

Just because your DD doesn't find craft as interesting as other subjects doesn't mean it is OK for her to dump responsibility for her homework on you.

That's life, sometimes we have to do tasks that we don't particularly enjoy. She needs to learn this lesson for the future, as a future employer will not be impressed if she sulks and refuses to do a task which is part of her job because she finds it "boring".

Startail Fri 15-Mar-13 10:50:05

Yes, I choose to do things for DD2 because I like a quiet life.
I suspect she'll wrap her future employers round her little finger too.

She threatens to be a teacher, teacher my arse, she'll be the sodding HT organising everyone else.

OnGoldenPond Fri 15-Mar-13 11:01:15

Star - really don't bet on her being able to boss future employers around like she does with you.

You are her DM so you will bend over backwards to keep your little princess happy.

Future employers will not be impressed. If she carries on with this kind of behaviour at work she will quickly get a reputation as an uncooperative prima donna and will not be on anyones list for promotion. Even the most brilliant student would have to start their teaching career at the bottom. Believe me, an attitude like this will NOT gain a headship post.

I have worked with graduate entrants in my field with just this kind of attitude and, bright as they were, they were quickly got rid of.

Alternatively, if she intends to become Mariah Carey when she grows up, scratch all the above advice and tell her to carry on as she is.

Sparklingbrook Fri 15-Mar-13 11:52:41

I hope these arty crafty projects don't extend to the workplace. DS1 has said he may want to go into law. Hope he doesn't get asked to build a scale model of a court out of cardboard boxes. shock

OnGoldenPond Fri 15-Mar-13 12:03:04

The arty crafty projects may not, but you can bet that there will be some tedious tasks involved that your DC will find less than fascinating no matter how skilled the job is. Especially at the entry level.

Refusal to do the more crappy parts of a job will NOT endear them to an employer as someone needs to do them!

Sparklingbrook Fri 15-Mar-13 12:04:33

Ds1 isn't the sort to refuse to do anything. Sometimes to his detriment TBH.

OnGoldenPond Fri 15-Mar-13 12:13:24

Sparkling - my last remarks were really directed at OP,TBH as her DC definitely does refuse to do these things. I see your DS may hate these projects but does get on and do them as he accepts they have to be done.

Well done to him, his attitude will serve him well.

Startail Fri 15-Mar-13 12:22:53

Anyway, this thread was in education not chat because I hoped the odd teacher might see it and pause to think.

Please when setting projects for Y7, think about the brief.

Give a list of sections, questions or things to include.
A basic frame work of the style of write up you want.
Some brain storming in class.
And don't leave it 8 weeks without asking to see some work in progress.

Without some sort of scaffolding process, DCs find it very hard to get started. They don't know what is expected of them. And they put off starting.

In the end parents end up providing the guidance and DCs never take ownership of something parents help with, in the way they do things they do at school.

Projects are an excellent opportunity to learn research techniques, mind mapping, planning and time management skills, but Y7s need actively teaching them.

As adult it's easy to see a plausible structure to write this up straight off. My year 10, who does elaborate revision mind maps, would probably manage.

Y7s need guidance.

DDs school has stopped teaching study skills as a Y7 subject, which I think is right. They need teaching in lessons with meaningful examples. Projects can be the perfect opportunity for this.

There is one good thing, parents do get the last laugh. We don't have to spend the Easter holidays marking them grin

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