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Homework

(31 Posts)
Jellycatspyjamas Tue 03-Oct-17 16:29:45

So, my 6 year old has settled reasonably well at school, she's making friends, goes into class without fuss and seems to be happy there. Getting her to do homework however is a living nightmare.

She argues and tantrums as soon as we mention it, she doesn't focus or pay attention and each time will mess about. It's not a lot of homework - maybe copying a few letters and reading/recognising words and letters. It's stuff I know she knows because she's read through it before, recognised the words elsewhere but actually sitting her down to do her homework is dreadful. It doesn't seem to matter whether we do it straight after school, give a snack and do it or try after dinner the result is always the same, I don't want it to become a battle but she literally screams until I let her down from the table - getting her to do it means trying to find a way through tears and tantrums. We've tried using blackboards, felt letters, playing schools, talking about why it's important, using natural consequences (if you do homework without fuss you'll have time for playing before dinner). We're very affirming of her when she gets things right and give lots of support if she's struggling but she can get a word right, then look at it again 10 seconds later and it be wrong - which is infuriating and draws the whole thing out because we don't know if she's had a lucky

Today she created merry hell and I just didn't have the energy to try and reason with her so she's playing with her brother while I dread approaching it with her again because she knows I've given in this time so will scream all the more next time. And I'm feeling annoyed that she just won't sit and do the damned homework - she could have done it 10 times over in the time it's taken to scream about it.

Any ideas?

SweetThames Tue 03-Oct-17 17:13:40

Hi – TA here. I work with a child who was adopted, and the school agreed with the parents that it would be best to stop homework as it was creating too much tension at home and creating unnecessary conflict. Unless you feel there is a huge benefit to her doing it, it might be worth shelving it until she's older.

Another option could be a homework club, which lots of schools run for kids who can't do it at home for whatever reason.

Otherwise, if you feel it would help her to do the extra work, could she perhaps stay in for a few minutes at lunchtime/break time and work on it then? Many staff members would be happy to help if it is clear what the problem is and why!

exercisejunkie Tue 03-Oct-17 18:21:55

Homework club? Most schools have one, at lunchtime - my sister tells my niece, at the first whinge she will write in her planner than she needs to go to HW club and the school follow through. It works, there's no battle at home!

nNina22 Tue 03-Oct-17 18:28:42

Sounds fairly normal to me.

donquixotedelamancha Tue 03-Oct-17 18:52:44

"she literally screams until I let her down from the table"

Stop doing the homework. Now.

Teacher here. The evidence is (and by that I'm referring to meta studies across tens of thousands of children and over many years) that homework has a negative effect on children's achievement in Primary school. That's not because all homework is pointless, but too much of it is.

What does work is spending time with your kids. Talk to them, read to and with them, drop little nuggets of info, discuss interesting topics and most important of all- explicitly teach them the skills you want them to have.

Sometimes this will mean making them do things they don't want, but be realistic. Don't do random tasks that don't achieve much just because a teacher tells you to. Talk to the teacher and discuss another way.

fatberg Tue 03-Oct-17 19:00:18

Same thing here, we just stopped. We always talk about it, we all know/acknowledge there is homework, if moods are all good on a weekend I might casually mention it and see what reaction I get. But got the most part we just don't. (We play lots of counting/drawing games...)

I just figured it wasn't worth wasting any calm/happy days on.

Jellycatspyjamas Tue 03-Oct-17 19:24:23

Yeah, I'm coming to that conclusion too - I want her to have good study habits but that's never going to happen on a battlefield is it? I'll have a chat with her teacher and see if there's a homework club because she does need the revision space but if not I think I'll set it aside for a while and try again when she's a bit older.

It's hard knowing what's "normal" resistance to homework that needs to be supported and worked through and what's distress driven and just needs backing off for a while.

Jellycatspyjamas Tue 03-Oct-17 19:30:26

Yeah, I'm coming to that conclusion too - I want her to have good study habits but that's never going to happen on a battlefield is it? I'll have a chat with her teacher and see if there's a homework club because she does need the revision space but if not I think I'll set it aside for a while and try again when she's a bit older.

It's hard knowing what's "normal" resistance to homework that needs to be supported and worked through and what's distress driven and just needs backing off for a while.

PoppyStellar Tue 03-Oct-17 21:24:28

I had a very similar experience with my DD last year and the year before. Definitely second the advice about ditching the homework. I'm also an ex teacher and agree with don about there being very little benefit to it in early primary. You honestly won't be doing her a disservice by stopping doing it.

Persisting with homework in the face of epic meltdowns (which is what I did) did not help DD at all last year. I wish I'd had the courage to pack it in sooner, or to just do a bit then stop when she'd had enough. Hindsight is wonderful though! In all honesty she needed to know I was on her side and wouldn't be a source of stress or anxiety for her way more than she needed to revise number bonds or conjunctions.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Wed 04-Oct-17 13:14:44

No 6year old 'needs' homework.
Your DD sounds relatively recently placed? In which case you definitely don't need fuss and stress over homework.
Talk to the school and tell them you won't make her do it.
Pick it up next academic year.

Jellycatspyjamas Wed 04-Oct-17 13:23:19

She is very recently placed, we're 10 week in and she's been at school for 4 weeks, I think the novelty of homework has well and truly worn off and she's been unsettled by contact with foster carers that didn't go at all well. The tussle over homework filters into every other thing we do and frankly it's a battle neither of us need at the moment. Not helped by me generally being very anti-homework so I'm arguing with her to do something I fundamentally disagree with in the first place, hence me checking I'm not just doing the thing that's expedient for me. But yes, I can't think of a 6 year old who needs homework more than they need time in the park, cuddling with mum and playing.

fatberg Wed 04-Oct-17 13:33:09

Omg, I hadn't realised it was so early on. We could hardly get out the door at ten weeks.

Bin it now, nothing trumps time with you. flowers

UnderTheNameOfSanders Wed 04-Oct-17 13:34:28

10 weeks? (Congratulations). Definitely stop.
Tell the school it's not helping your attachment.

You may find that if you break until after Christmas that after then she starts asking to do it.

allthebestkids06 Wed 04-Oct-17 13:56:34

scrap the homework - bizarrely she's probably enjoying the battle with you.....

tell teacher you are simply not doing it...and don't mention it to dd.

too early - most won't be at school at 10 weeks in...

Jellycatspyjamas Wed 04-Oct-17 14:14:28

I think she is enjoying the battle - and it gives her a sense of familiarity when it spills in to other areas of home life. She is so much more comfortable with conflict than with closeness, so I know where it comes from - just removing the homework stress and not talking about is probably the way for me to go. I'll wait till she brings it up again and take my cue from her.

I hadn't planned to start her in school so quickly but she really does need the predictability and structure of the school week. She's settled well and the school are excellent with her, very attuned to her needs. I suspect the homework meets her need for something to clash over.

conserveisposhforjam Wed 04-Oct-17 14:45:07

Donquixote do you have a link to your study or meta study? Not because I don't believe it - you are preaching to the choir here - but because I wasn't aware of the research and would like to show it to anyone who will listen at dd's school with whom I have this argument with boring regularity

OlennasWimple Wed 04-Oct-17 22:21:31

Well, is the homework going to be replaced by something else? (Food? Bedtime? Clothes? Teeth?)

Which battle is the one you want to fight?

Definitely don't persist in trying to make her do homework, as all it is doing is making everyone miserable, but beware it might well become something else that you clash over and you decide to keep homework as the "power struggle thing", IYSWIM

highinthesky Wed 04-Oct-17 22:29:48

OP, she’s testing you.

It’s not going to kill her to do her homework, make your expectations clear from the outset but support her where she needs it. Turn it into a test of wits if you have to - the content of the homework that is, not the principle of who’s going to win - and she might actually enjoy it. Unless there is a valid reason that she’s traumatised by homework (eg abusive previous pre-school teacher).

sassygromit Thu 05-Oct-17 09:32:27

I am an adoptee, and I am going to say something slightly different about homework. Please feel free to take or leave my comments though.

I agree that homework is not needed or helpful, and that the pressure at school generally nowadays is unnecessary, but the problem is that if everyone else is doing it at your school, not doing it may bring its own stresses, make adopted dc feel more different, mean that dc falls behind.

I can also think of some positives about homework at this age. Firstly, bonding, if you can get to the point where you are doing it together and it is normal (or as normal as having a bath, going to bed, having dinner) I think it will be a bonding activity. It also shows you what they are doing and how they are doing. If they have not picked up something at school, it becomes apparent, and you are then able to give reassurance and help them so that they go back in more confident and don't fall behind or lose motivation. And if your dc is confident about something and she is basically just showing you what she already knows, it is lovely.

Do you think that it is possible that your dd is really struggling with the work itself, and that might be the cause of the wars over it, possibly because she is concentrating so hard to be ok at school she isn't taking things in properly?

I wonder if instead of leaving it or using homework club you could start with baby steps, eg doing just one of the tasks, the shortest easiest one, rewarded with something she'd like and building up from that? I noticed you said you'd left her to do it, and maybe at this stage if possible sit with her and prompt? It is the engaging which is important I think rather than anything else though teachers may disagree.

sassygromit Thu 05-Oct-17 09:40:08

By the way, in relation to fun learning stuff you can do at home aside from homework, if you haven't found them yet there are some great science "experiments" such as the things done by the Natural History Museum on Amazon (chopping out dino bones from plaster/growing crystals etc), chemistry experiments and water experiments for kids on amazon which are far more fun than they sound. As activities they take maybe 10 mins or so, and are hands on. The ones aimed at older children, 8 plus or so, are more fun and mostly safe (for both your dc) as long as you are hands on. DC may well engage more and more and go off in their own directions about what they want to know about as they take it in.

Jellycatspyjamas Thu 05-Oct-17 10:23:33

Thanks everyone, it's lovely to have a range of views. We generally do sit with her to do homework - when I talk about leaving her I mean asking her to write the next letter while I check on her brother or get her some water etc. My husband and I both sit with her, prompt, revise, find different ways of helping her look at it.

Part of the difficulty is that she doesn't have the capacity to focus for long at all so the simplest of tasks takes a very long time. I'd love to do crafts and different educational activities with her but she can't maintain any level of concentration to do them. She's very sensitive to being "different" to other kids and I get that not doing homework creates more difference for her but it may be worth it to not have her being so distressed on a daily basis. It's such a balance of the lesser of two evils really.

I know what you mean about the battle possibly just shifting to something else and that's a possibility but both kids need to do bath time, bed time, eat meals etc so it feels easier to manage that her doing something that she doesn't see her brother doing. There's a big issue about her perception of being treated in any way differently to her brother which I know is also fuelling the fire for her. I'll need to think about the best way forward for her and appreciate all your views, thanks.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Thu 05-Oct-17 13:54:54

How old is her brother?
Could her brother do 'homework' too? e.g. Sit at the table and scribble? Possibly only suitable if brother is at least 3.

Or, can you do anything to show that being the big sister means she has to do homework, but also gets special privilege such as staying up 30mins later or anything? So different doesn't always mean worse?

JustHappy3 Tue 10-Oct-17 12:14:42

I'd just stop the homework - the most important thing in your lives right now is attachment.
Fwiw i struggled to get my birth son to do homework. Similar low attention problems and crying scenarios. Ended up getting a tutor once a week (which my lovely parents paid for) and that worked really well. She was experienced enough to see what techniques worked best and i copied her language etc when i took over. Lots of people i know do homework in the mornings when the kids are fresh.

amornin Tue 10-Oct-17 13:01:46

When are you doing the homework with her? Is it at a time when she's tired? We used to have similar battles with DS, he now does his homework independently on a Saturday morning.
As PP have said, you're very early in to placement so you might want to drop it for a bit. BUT I'd recommend dropping it for a short time and then standing your ground on it, rather than waiting for a time when she's amenable - lots of kids don't like homework, but it's an important habit to get into.
If you do take a break, could you structure it as a special activity for you both? Maybe she gets a treat drink and biscuit half way through. Could you just take a look at the homework sheet first and then she plays teacher by telling you anything she remembers, or looking up a short video together related to homework task rather than diving straight in with completing the task? It's possible she just needs a little break, but if you do take one then I'd just make sure you come back firm when you take it up again.

Italiangreyhound Thu 12-Oct-17 21:06:37

A six year old needs homework like an elk needs a microwave.

Stop now and know you are doing the best for her.

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