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To think the pressure is too much

(38 Posts)
RedandChecker Mon 10-Mar-14 10:16:00

Coming here for traffic mainly, not sure if I'm the only parent who thinks this and wondering if there is anything I can do to help/change things.

My DS is in reception, youngest in his class. He never read or wrote before school, apart from his name. He did amazingly well first few months and was excited to read and picked it up very quickly starting off with books of about four pages and phonics.

He has to hand in a book every day - that's the aim anyway, that's what the teachers want us to be achieving.

We are finding this hard and AIBU in thinking this is rediculous. The books he is on now are about 12 pages, a lot more words, trickier, double sounds, etc.

Now, this would be ok if we didn't also have the pressure to complete words lists seperately and hand in a other homework (maths, drawinings, etc) He is reluctant to even draw a picture for school at the moment.

The time we have makes it almost impossible now that he is reluctant. We get in from school about 3:45 and he goes to bed at 6:30 in that time I want him to have some time to play or watch a bit of telly, then we have tea, then bath then it's bed. I've tried to do homework and reading after school but he is just too tired and reluctant it turns into a chore. So I decided to wake up earlier and do it in the car before school. Which was better at first, but now the books are longer he is becoming a lot more reluctant and it is a very stressful task to complete, I feel like I am constantly nagging to meet these expectations of the school, I wanted it to be fun but it is turning into quite the opposite for the both of us.

This morning, it was so bad that we only managed to get past page 2. I felt very stressed so I imagine DS did too - not a good way to start the day. I thought I would speak with his teacher but as DS went in she was in a hurry and shut the door. His main teacher has been off sick a lot and ATM is off for the forseable future.

I think the pressure and expectations are unreasonable. However, that's not something I can really change. I do not want DS to fall behind or see school work in a negative way at such a young age. I work full time so unfortunately our evenings are quite rushed - Does anyone have any advice as to what I can do to bring back the fun and make it less of a chore for the both of us. Just mentioning story time causes touble at the moment.

Hoppinggreen Mon 10-Mar-14 10:27:48

That is a lot.
My son is in Reception and is one of the older ones.
He gets one book a week of about 8 pages ( 3 words or so per page) on a Friday for the weekend and that's all. We also read with him and do some maths but only if he wants to and in context.
According to his teacher he is performing well and above average. The most important thing fior me is that he loves school and enjoys learning.
My daughter is in year 4 and even she doesn't get a book every single day!! She's at a very high level and can do year 6 work so I don't think that pressure like your child is getting necessarily helps them to achieve

craftynclothy Mon 10-Mar-14 10:45:48

Blimey, no, I'd be cutting back and explaining why to the teacher.

My reception child gets one reading book a week and no other homework. My year 2 child gets one reading book, one or two maths sheets and a list of spellings each week.

Fwiw my kids love school and they often play teachers/schools together - they'll write registers and practice phonics and maths for fun.

RedandChecker Mon 10-Mar-14 10:55:23

Your schools seem a lot more realistic. I do not compare DS, as I know how far he is come so quickly but I do wonder if all other parents/children are coping OK with these expectations for it not to have been changed.

I spoke to his teacher last parents evening and she said maybe just try reading 3 times a week but with homework inbetween, I would still be making him sit down 5 nights a week. I feel as though they will think I am being rediculous if i say we cannot do 3 books a week down from 5.

I think I am just going to have to put my foot down and explain DS isn't coping and it is having the oppositte affect to achievement.

I would love for him to be enjoying school more and play schools and on a Monday not to ask me when it's the weekend! He's to tiddly too feel like that :-( I need to bring back the fun.

ElenorRigby Mon 10-Mar-14 11:05:37

What type of school is he going too?

DD is the youngest in her class. We were going to send her to an independent school but I found the atmosphere there too oppressive for a young child. We sent her to a good state school instead.

I think hot housing very young children is not productive instead we have been concentrating on giving her a love of learning.

She is in Y2 now and loving it. She is at and above where they expect her to be by the and of Y2 too.

Next year we will get her a tutor to challenge her more in a supportive not oppressive way.

RedandChecker Mon 10-Mar-14 11:47:08

He is in a normal state school too, Elenor.

When I go to pick him up today, I will see if his teacher can arrange ten minutes with me to discuss it.

Thanks for your comments, I realise I am not being unreasonable!

CrohnicallyFarting Mon 10-Mar-14 11:52:32

We give out books at the child's pace. We listen to them read 2-3x a week in school and most children manage about the same at home. Children who only have a few pages in their books will have 2-3 a week as they will change it every time the teacher hears them read, children with the longer books might have the same one for a week or even 2, and read 4-5 pages at a time to the teacher.

Reception children at our school have flash cards (sounds, high frequency words and numbers) to do alongside their reading books, but no other formal homework. Year 1 children get 1 piece of homework a week.

If there is too much pressure on them, children will be put off from learning and at such a young age that is the last thing we want to do!

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Mon 10-Mar-14 11:54:53

Remember it is up to YOU how much work he does at home! If he's becoming put off by it all, just explain to the teacher that he won't be doing home learning from school for a while, and you'll start again when you feel he's ready.

KellyElly Mon 10-Mar-14 11:59:07

That is a ridiculous amount, especially during the week. I work and won't get home while DD is in reception until 5.45pm so that would just not be possible. Why can't they just give a bit more at the weekend, when parents and children have more time, and ease up during the week?

WilsonFrickett Mon 10-Mar-14 12:02:32

That is a ridiculous amount of homework. A 12 page book per night is just plain daft.

I once asked DS teacher how long, in her considered opinion, a child of DS should take to do their homework each night. 15 minutes was her response. So DS now does 15 minutes (he has been known to use a timer) and then the books go down.

I insist it's done every night and of course support him, but 15 minutes is ample. 20 at a stretch. I'd be telling her you're adopting this approach, to be honest. It's not worth this level of stress.

RedandChecker Mon 10-Mar-14 12:13:45

Thank you for your responses, I felt like I was failing in some way by not being able to do this - I was expecting people to say we manage you're not making enough time! But it seems his schools expectations are odd. I feel like I should have put my foot down earlier so that we wouldn't have gotten to the reluctant 'I hate school work' stage but hoping it can be undone and find ways to bring back his love for learning.

KatnipEvergreen Mon 10-Mar-14 12:27:25

We get through 1.5 reading books a week, DD2 is on stage 4 so the books have about 12-15 pages. 10 minutes a day is the guide- she does read to us most days but sometimes she is tired or I just read to her (or she falls asleep on the sofa after tea and neither of these things happen).

TBH as long as you are hearing him read a few times a week that's certainly about as much as any parent in DD2's class is doing. Regular reading does make all the difference but it shouldn't be forced or unenjoyable. I don't think I ever heard DD1 read as regularly as I do DD2 when I was working FT (but we always read to her at bedtime) and DD1 was on chapter books in Y1 so it was obviously good progress.

The thing I find hard is the reception homework has to be handed in on Monday, and because it is writing and/or drawing a picture about your weekend, you have to have actually done something before they can write about it, so it ends up Sunday afternoon/evening, or first thing Monday morning as it was today! Also they now have "Word Books" which they have to write one or two words in they come across over the weekend.

It's a lot to manage, especially when it's nice weather and they want to play out (and you don't know when you might get nice weather again) and when you also have a Y4 child with a ton of maths and literacy homework, and somehow trying to fit in piano practice.

And you know, sometimes we actually do stuff at the weekend...

Dinosaursareextinct Mon 10-Mar-14 12:30:41

That sounds more like a private school workload.
He does go to bed very early though, so you are giving yourselves less time than other families for that reason.

fullerlonger Mon 10-Mar-14 12:37:23

mine had a book a day at this age but no other homework. It was perfectly doable but they enjoyed doing it - sounds like your ds is not enjoying it. 6.30 is early surely 7.30 would be fine at 5?

Summerblaze Mon 10-Mar-14 12:40:06

At the dc's school, my ds who is in year 1 brings home a book that they have to read every night. But they dont have to complete it. My ds used to read the full thing when he was on first ones but now it is just a few pages. When he gets to the end of the book, they change it.

He also has to learn flashcards which we do every night but it is only a quick thing. We do it and his book before bed and i say if he does well then i will read a story to him.

Children in year 1 also have maths and spellings to do on a nightly basis but it isnt to be handed in daily. My ds doesnt do this as we are concentrating on reading as he has learning difficulties.

My dd in year 5 gets the same minus the flashcards and both get a termly project.

Ds goes to bed at 6.30 too and dd at 8.00. I also have a 2 year old 2 nights they go to an after school club as i work.

Tonight i pick them both up at 5.00, then go to pick ds2 up from nursery. Get home, give them tea. By this time it is 6.00 and time to do the homework and bed. Its ridiculous and far too much pressure on such young children. When are kids supposed to be kids and play. Childhood taken away too quickly.

CrushingCandies Mon 10-Mar-14 12:43:32

DD is 4 and in Reception and she seems to be doing just what CrohnicallyFarting said. She goes to bed at 6 and some nights she dosen't want to read and just wants me to read to her and we do just that.

No math homework either, although the school have started a new project to improve the writing but she gets a whole week before she has to hand it in.

What you describe is a lot.

TruffleOil Mon 10-Mar-14 12:44:17

That's way too much for a four year old. Sounds like the perfect recipe for putting him off reading.

fullerlonger Mon 10-Mar-14 12:44:46

"Tonight i pick them both up at 5.00, then go to pick ds2 up from nursery. Get home, give them tea. By this time it is 6.00 and time to do the homework and bed. Its ridiculous and far too much pressure on such young children. When are kids supposed to be kids and play. Childhood taken away too quickly."

I disagree, I think it's absolutely fine and its possible to make schoolwork at this age part of bed time - ie mine read their few pages to me when they were in bed, then I read to them. They didn't watch tv and still don't in the week. Encouraging your child to read to you and making it fun is not pressure.

RedandChecker Mon 10-Mar-14 12:45:11

It is just an average state school. He is extremely tired after school - He has a compromised immune system which seems to effect his energy levels - I'm sure waking up at 6am every day doesn't help either but groclocks and blackout blinds have not yet worked. We prepare for bed time at 6:30, pyjamas, bedtime story and is usually left to sleep by 7 - 7:15. It is not too early for him, he wouldn't cope too well the next day if he was going to bed later than that. He is 4, not 5, if that makes any difference.

Katnip - His homework has to be handed in on a Monday too often some maths as well as weekend activity. It can be difficult. Sometimes you just want to enjoy the weekend with them as a break!

I am not even sure of the level he is on if I am honest, I will find this out too. I think he needs to go back a level though, just for a while to have some easier reads to get his love for reading back.

fullerlonger Mon 10-Mar-14 12:51:30

does sound a lot for a 4 year old
maybe just read three pages in bed? Even if it is supposed to be a book a night? And loads of praise when doing it, if you are getting stressed over it then he will be too.

WilsonFrickett Mon 10-Mar-14 12:53:49

4 is tiny! And certainly in my DS first year of school his bedtime came forward a bit because he was soooooo tired.

That said, maybe doing 15 minutes in the morning could work better for you? If he's up at 6 does that mean you have some spare time in the morning?

fuller some children are reluctant readers and anything you do wrt reading is seen by them as pressure.

RedandChecker Mon 10-Mar-14 13:01:04

Wilson, I did change it to the mornings and we read in the car together (meant we got a good parking space and a quiet area to read!) It's just as the books have got longer, the pressure has increased and there doesn't seem any right time of day.

I think our only option is to aim to read 2 full books a week amongst homework, and take it back a level for now. I know that is something we can achieve. So that is what I will do despite what his teacher says, but hoping she will understand and be in agreement.

Any advice for making it fun now though, he seems to see it as a chore now :-( anything I can do to undo that or just hope as the pressure eases it will be ok.

Xenadog Mon 10-Mar-14 13:01:10

A 4 year old child learns from playing, from discussion, from sharing and from general interaction not just formal academic pieces to complete. That amount of homework (homework FFS!) for a 4 year old is stupid. To me (a teacher - albeit a secondary one) it sounds like the school in under huge pressure to get results and so the class teacher is now putting pressure on the kids and parents.

OP, I suggest you speak to the class teacher and explain it's too much work for your DC and you need to reduce it. The teacher should be able to work with you on this. If there are any issues then you would obviously then speak to the Head but I think your initial contact should be with the class teacher and your concerns are genuine.

To the poster who said about getting kids to write about their weekend (and thus having to do it Sunday) that is crazy! Again go and speak to the teacher. They probably haven't realised the implications for the average family - it may be that it would suit your family for your DC to do their homework on a Friday evening but with this type of homework that is impossible. I would also argue it is lazy homework from the teacher too as they haven't got to plan something new for each week and it is very easy to say, "Write about your weekend."

Essiebee Mon 10-Mar-14 13:01:49

I assume your son is just over four; the amount of homework sounds excessive, even if he wanted to do it. It sounds as though the reception class is functioning at the level of five year olds starting; quite a lot of Reception teachers have not adapted their curriculum to suit younger children or allowed for their natural development. I expect the teacher is having pressure put on her to meet unrealistic targets. I would prioritise over what homework is suitable for your son. The way you are tackling his reading sounds excellent; your attitude is totally realistic also; how refreshing that you don't know, and don't care, what level he is on; what is most important, at this stage, is that he is happy and secure; the wanting to learn will follow. It will be interesting to see what the school's response is; ask what his targets are, and how they intend to achieve them.

fullerlonger Mon 10-Mar-14 13:07:35

wilsonfrickett I have had a very reluctant reader and two very keen readers - looking back I can see that the fault was mine - I put too much pressure on him to do it perfectly as he was my first and I wanted him to do well. With the others I learnt to praise effort rather than outcome and it has made for much happier readers (fwiw my original reluctant reader is now top set English and loves books)

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