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To not agree with this amount of homework or awards for it?

(98 Posts)
Skatingonthinice16 Mon 23-Jan-17 08:04:46

Ds is 7 and a younger year 3. They've just been given their first big project. We have six weeks to do it and there are 15 tasks all of which take at least an hour and some - like the one we did last week - take several hours and a considerable amount of resources. This is on top of spellings, reading, numeracy homework.
So that's my first moan. Too much I think. Plus without significant parental support they aren't going to be able to do it because of the range of the tasks involved.

However my biggest issue is that on top of this school have decided to give prizes to the 'best' three projects - considering creativity, effort and presentation. Now aside from the fact ds is dyspraxic and his presentation is not good (we will use the computer for some of it admittedly) I just feel that a) it ramps up the pressure and b) what about the other 27 kids who've worked hard but don't get a prize? Why can't they have an end of topic celebration for everyone where they look at each other's projects and have some golden time or something? I just think this is too much. Ds is already crying and saying his won't be good enough to get a prize. He's very competitive and a perfectionist (ASD strongly suspected) and he's already decided his project won't be good enough. I've talked to him about effort etc but he said it doesn't matter how much effort he puts in, he won't get a prize and he's more than likely right.
Why bring prizes into it at all?

This is a good state school by the way. Not private or anything.


neonrainbow Mon 23-Jan-17 08:13:37

What do you mean "we" have this project? It's his project not yours. You should only be giving minimal supervision. Presumably he will produce work equivalent to his skill level as will all the other kids ... unless their parents think that the homework should be done by them too.

And whats wrong with awarding prizes for good work? If your son was really good at sport do you think prizes shouldn't be given out at sports day, or do you just disagree with prizes for this because you don't think your son is likely to win one?

Skatingonthinice16 Mon 23-Jan-17 08:20:40

No I just think it's a lot of work for only three kids to be rewarded. They will all put a load of time and effort in. My ds never wins at sports day either by the way but that's just one of those things isn't it? In this instance they will have put hours of work in and only three will be chosen as special prize winners?

They need parental input. The letter states they will. They need to print out photos, do research, make films, cook things. They can't do it on their own.

myfavouritecolourispurple Mon 23-Jan-17 08:23:16

What do you mean "we" have this project? It's his project not yours

Meanwhile, in the real world....

weebarra Mon 23-Jan-17 08:24:48

Neon - can I just ask whether you have a dyspraxic 7 year old?
Even a 7 year old with no other issues is going to need some parental support, especially if the project involves use of the internet or a visit to the library to research.
The OP didn't seem to indicate that she would be doing the bulk of the project.
I have a dyspraxic nine year old who still needs support to focus on tasks, it's part of the condition.
As for prizes - those prizes may end up being given to those whose parents have had a bit much input into the project. My DS1 would also be upset about the prizes, because no matter how hard he tries, he can't present work as well as his peers.

claraschu Mon 23-Jan-17 08:24:59


I hate this kind of thing. If schools want to encourage competition, there are plenty of activities which are inherently competitive, like chess or football. I hate it when schools take something like music or a history project and ruin it for everyone by turning it into a competition. All this does is detract from the children's interest in the subject itself and make them focus on comparing themselves to other people. Surely schools should be focused on getting every child interested in a wide range of subjects, and confident in working in as many different ways as possible.

myfavouritecolourispurple Mon 23-Jan-17 08:26:01

Sorry pressed submit too soon. The point is primary schools set loads of homework they know the parents will do, or help extensively with. And they must know that when these amazing models come into school which a 7 year old could not possibly have made. They still continue to set those homeworks though.

CecilyP Mon 23-Jan-17 08:29:15

What do you mean "we" have this project? It's his project not yours. You should only be giving minimal supervision.

Unless you are psychic and know exactly what is in the project brief, that is a daft thing to say!

IWantATardis Mon 23-Jan-17 08:33:55

So you've been told by the school that parental input is needed?

I don't have any objection to prizes for children that produce the best work when it is all the children's work.

But the requirement for parental input? That's a big thing that would make the prize unfair IMO - not all parents will be equally involved, will they? And not all parental input will be of equal quality. Some will have less spare time, some will have less of the skills or resources needed to help, and some may just not feel this project is as important as some other parents do.

You're immediately giving an advantage to pupils whose parents have the time, willingness, resources and ability to devote hours of spare time to this project. They're surely more likely to win the prize than a child whose parents aren't providing much input for whatever reason.

wettunwindee Mon 23-Jan-17 08:37:02

I agree with Neon.

It should be his work. The teacher will know what he's done and what you've done anyway. Overzealous parental involvement helps no one and is a waste of time.

2.5 hours doesn't seem unreasonable. What are the resources? If that is an issue, schools can usually help out.

What about them? I disagree with 'also ran' prizes although I absolutely do agree with prizes based on relative achievement. You said that it is based, among other things, on effort.

The problem here isn't his disparaxia. It's his lack of belief in his ability to win. Have you spoken to his teacher?

I'm in education. While I like to think I'd know him well enough by now (over a term into the year) to guess how he may feel about it, a heads up from a parent to let me know he's under pressure and a little disheartened would be helpful.

Get him to complete one of the tasks. Give your teacher a heads up as to how he's feeling and have him submit that one part asap. If your teacher is any good they will glance at it, stop the class and have him show it as such an incredible example of what was wanted.

Those prizes aren't used as a stick to beat other children with and nor are they used purely as a carrot and awarded to the 'best' work. There's usually a good bit of thought into who will benefit most from winning.

If I knew and taught your son, I would consider whether to encourage him throughout the course of the work and then reward him or encourage him, tell him he was second and how, by listening to constructive feedback he was sure to win next time and, of course, he would.

I think you need to work on your sons confidence. Not saying you aren't aware or aren't trying but it should be your focus.

I get the distinct impression on MN (though not in my job) that parents resent being needed for "parental involvement". I hated KS1 and EYFS as well as the demographic at that school, due to the number of parents who washed their hands of their children and wanted teachers to be responsible for everything.

The children who do best at school are the ones with parents who are happy to work with the school but, at the same time, aren't the ones who send their children to bed and do an entire project on their behalf. Some parents are lazy. Some don't understand the purpose of a teacher and school, some are simply a little confused. You don't seem to be one of those 3 OP, but for some reason are against the school giving anything to do outside. Is 2.5 hours a week really that much - yes, on top of spellings (10 mins) and reading (20).

Oliversmumsarmy Mon 23-Jan-17 08:38:13

Now is the time to teach your child the art of not giving a shit.

If you are not going to win no matter how much effort you put in but have to present something then spend as little time as possible on it.

Celebrate the crapness of the finished product and have a laugh with your son about the stupidity of it all.

Leaned early on that effort is not rewarded. Only the finished product is what the teacher thinks about.

My ds and his classmates were sent home with a piece of paper with the template of a viking long boat drawn on it. The homework was to colour in the flag cut out the pieces and make a viking long boat. A prize for the best one.

And the winner was the teaching assistants dd who presented a wooden one bought from Tesco.

Skatingonthinice16 Mon 23-Jan-17 08:40:21

wet it's 15 tasks at at least an hour each. It's going to be about 30 hours work over 6 weeks I'd say.

SansComic Mon 23-Jan-17 08:43:36

15 tasks of an hour = 15 hours. That's 2.5 hours a week. About 20 mins a day.

Oliversmumsarmy Mon 23-Jan-17 08:43:59

I should add ds was also year 3 and there was no way could he or any other of the boys we knew put this thing together. As a parent I was not the only one to find the gluing together extremely hard to get right

FrancisCrawford Mon 23-Jan-17 08:49:54

Could you give an example of the tasks?

E.g. If the task is "setting and clearing the table every evening" that would be different to "read this passage, answer ten questions and draw a picture)

Oliversmumsarmy Mon 23-Jan-17 08:50:52

sans that's 20 minutes per day every single day + all the other homework. And if you have a dyspraxic 7 year old you can take triple that time to do somethings.

wettunwindee Mon 23-Jan-17 08:53:55

Oliversmumsarmy - most teachers will be well informed about dyspraxia as well as an individual pupil's problems.

It goes against the grain here but in my experience, most teachers would praise the OP's boy for handing in 1/3 of the work at a relatively great standard.

ifonly4 Mon 23-Jan-17 08:57:17

Unfortunately, homework will only increase as they get older, so it's just something to get used to. I have mixed fillings about prizes for the best three projects - just having a bit of fun, and announcing the top three - and then explaining why so the children can learn.

By the way, my DD had something similar in Year 4 - in the end all she did was a drawing of what was required with some notes. She took her work in and I felt I'd let her down as other parents had obviously helped DCs with ideas and made some fantastic models, used different textiles on paper. DD got an award for hers - I asked the teacher why when some of the other work was so brilliant - the answer was because she'd clearly done it herself with no help, so it helped teacher assess it was good work for her age!

Seryph Mon 23-Jan-17 09:03:24

Firstly you need to have a chat with school about why they think this kind of thing is appropriate. There will be children who have little to no parental input at home and so will not be able to complete the work.

Secondly, why will his presentation not be good? Dyspraxia does not have to equal poor presentation. Especially since you say you are cooking things and printing things out as part of this project. It might take a little longer to go slow with it but if he puts the effort in he might well be rewarded. Also one of the categories you listed was effort, and the school know that he is dyspraxic presumably so will know exactly how hard this will be. He could win.

Why don't you suggest a big treat for when this is all done, that way, if he doesn't win he has something to look forward to, and if he does then it will be all the sweeter.

echt Mon 23-Jan-17 09:04:39

The problem here isn't his disparaxia. It's his lack of belief in his ability to win.

So the kid's just not got the right attitude. Sorry, growth mindset.


Skatingonthinice16 Mon 23-Jan-17 09:06:00

Yes but it's AT LEAST an hour a task.
We did one last week that took several hours. And I say we because yes ds needed some help.

It's things like researching and producing leaflets / posters / non-chronological reports, making and constructing things related to the project, cooking, constructing a board game related to the project, re writing a story in your own words, discussing and debating and giving reasons for things and producing reports in 'interesting and creative ways' making a video diary... it's quite in depth.

Rainydayspending Mon 23-Jan-17 09:11:08

Youngest has dyspraxia and frequently did really well with task based projects, eg in year 3 she was the only one out of 2 classes to get 'gold' (they had a points system). She used to play to her strengths on them, but that's a good learning for the coursework years in the future. It's achieveable. The school have ditched them because the majority of children didn't try (maybe the scale put them off). So i guess there's hope for the OP. But it's not a bad idea to learn that a massive task just needs starting on. Rather than being overwhelmed by it.

TENSHI Mon 23-Jan-17 09:11:50

Don't bother doing the project with him op, just let him get on with it himself. Stop being so involved.If he is unable to cut with scissors etc you could assist, of course. But all ideas should come from him. If he finds the making side of it too much surely he could scribble a picture of what he'd like it to look like and the present the actual result with a bit of humour?

He's dyspraxic so why not celebrate any small achievement with positivity?

It sounds as if you are the one piling on the pressure and why shouldn't the school reward the best one?

I have never done any school project with my dc apart from help them find the materials out of scrap /scissors. Then let them get on with it, however eye opening.

Have a sense of humour op! This is not a board of architects convening to design a new town layout! Just a little school project fgs!

If your son is distressed then talk to the school and say could they have a prize for the most original too?!

timeforabrewnow Mon 23-Jan-17 09:14:22


And what Claraschu said

Also - life is not all a competition and why it has to be made so with little children is beyond me.

Lots of fun and great for those who win lots, but not so great for those who don't do well despite having perfectionist tendencies and trying hard.

ittooshallpass Mon 23-Jan-17 09:15:14

What some teachers need to realise is that many parents work. I'm a single parent. I work full time with an hour commute each way and zero support. My DD goes to wrap around school care, so spends 10 hours a day at school.

By the time we get home and have eaten it is easily 7pm. By which time there is just enough left of the day to fit in spellings, reading and maths homework.And some chill time, chat and hugs.

Weekends are a whirl of activities, housework and actually spending time with DD.

So when teachers throw 'just an hour' for project work into the mix, which we all know doesn't take an hour (in the same way that spelling and maths homework don't take 10/ 20 minutes) is it any wonder that parents are unhappy? Turning it into a competition is grossly unfair.

Teachers making comments about parents 'washing their hands of their children' and 'not working with the school' need to take a long hard think about what they are saying.

How about the teachers 'not washing their hands' of working parents?

Where are the home work clubs? Where is the support? (Fed up of being asked to 'pop in' at pick up if there are any issues.)

Parents are doing our best!

Sorry this has turned into a bit of a rant... but OP... the school are ridiculous for turning everything into a competition. It's the same ill-deserving kids who win everything at DDs school too.

As others have said. Teach your DS to not give a shit. Laugh about it. We play 'guess who'll win/ star in the play/ get chosen this time. We're usually right.

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