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5 yo Just won't do her school work.

(36 Posts)
BonzoDooDah Thu 31-Jan-13 22:45:17

DD (5 yo, Year 1) has been a right pain in the neck for the last few months about doing her homework. Just will not do it without tantrums, arguments and shouting (on both sides). She'll do her reading which she loves though. I've been getting more and more stressed with this.

Today I collected her from school and the teacher asked for a word and said she has not been doing her work - refuses. All the others on her table are sitting round getting on with it and she is fidgeting, staring at the sky, messing about ... anything BUT doing her work.
Her set (top I think) have a special project to make a story book. She should be on page 6 (others are) but is on page 2.

She's bright (everyone has told us this since nursery) and the teachers say she is. She's in one of the top sets and the teacher says she wants to move her up a level with her work (but not out of the group) but can't because she hasn't demonstrated that she can do it (by bloody writing it down). Teacher is certain she is capable ... She's happy to read and wants to do that but just won't do any of the other stuff.

She's been given consequences - kept in at lunchtime etc - no difference at all and this is the threat now that she'll lose "Golden Time" - which is when she turned on the tears tonight - that's tomorrow it will be put in action. Teacher said she'll have to do her work during Golden Time instead of playing.

So having had this discussion (her involved) we came home and she utterly completely refused to do her homework - 4 lines about her favourite toy (FFS). She spent 45 minutes NOT doing it and 5 minutes of real time writing it.
All the time she is not she is pulling faces, being really rude, throwing strops, getting up and down from her chair etc etc...

Yesterday (having seen a leaflet in the school) DH and I went on a Positive Parenting Course so we are working on NVC( non violent communication ) - improved communication from our side - but seriously - I wanted to lose it so much tonight. But I didn't and I didn't even shout - but she seemed to be pushing me TO actually shout at her.

She has enough sleep, eats well, has had her eyes tested, has lots of friends (knows about 90% of the school).

Help, help help ... anyone have ANY ideas what we can do???

mawbroon Thu 31-Jan-13 22:56:46

Can you identify the feelings and needs behind her reluctance to do it? This is what I find is the trickiest part of NVC! Does she feel overwhelmed by it? Writing 4 lines can seem like loads to a 5yo. If you hit on the right feelings and needs, it might just be that she needs some empathy for her feelings.

DS1 was the same with doing his homework at that age (he's 7 now) and he would faff about for ages avoiding it. Eventually, he finally got it that if he just did the bloody homework then it would be over quickly and he could go back to fun stuff. I don't think we really did anything though, he just sussed it out himself. I used to be cooking the tea and popping over to him every few minutes to see if he'd made a start to it rather than sitting over him putting pressure on him and making a big deal of it.

I feel your pain...

jjuice Fri 01-Feb-13 10:29:07

my friends DS was very very bright and used to constantly mess about all lesson then spend the last 5 minutes doing the work that had taken everyone else an hour. His work was as good as and more of ten than not better than everyone elses. The problem was that it was too easy for him. It bored him and he knew he could do it in 5 mins so just left it til the last 5 mins of class. It took a lot of hard work to convince him to do it in the first five mins then he could move onto something that really interested him.
His mum was distraught with him at home as he wouldn't do anything unless he could do it perfectly. He seemed to know exactly what he was capable of.

CecilyP Fri 01-Feb-13 11:02:16

Even if she is bright, she may be finding the work a bit hard. Writing 4 lines is nothing to us, but may be quite daunting for a 5 year old. Especially if it is homework after a day at school. Are you sure she is not feeling totally overwhelmed by it all; certainly the threats don't seem to be working.

It is all very well for the for the teacher to be certain she is capable, but what is it actually based on if she is presenting no real evidence of that capability? Might it not be a better idea if she was moved to the group below so she could make more gradual progress to that level of work.

SuzysZoo Fri 01-Feb-13 12:04:31

My daughter used to be like this so I sympathise. School will have to do what they do at school. At home could you try the offering choices. Where do you want to do your homework - kitchen or living room? Which pen do you want to use? Blue pencil/Black pencil. I used to HATE HATE homework with DD but now my DD is 8 she is old enough to decide whether or not she wants to do it IMO. I help her if she wants and remind her to do it, but she decides when to do it and how well. Homework is pretty useless for children under 11 IMO. I never had any homework until I was 11 and got a degree from Oxbridge. Homework depresses the joy of learning I think, so try to keep that alive (hard I know)

Andro Fri 01-Feb-13 13:23:17

<has vivid flash backs of doing similar at that age>
<remembers telling teacher "if you don't know it, why should I tell you?>
<sneaks out of thread...cringing>

BonzoDooDah Fri 01-Feb-13 23:57:27

Thanks for all the comments!

mawbroon and jjuice that's what I'm hoping my DD will realise sometime soon - just DO the bloody thing then have nice things!

SuzysZoo I completely agree about homework. DD had it in reception (FFS) and I think it's a lot to ask - she's 5 - working all day at school, reading in the evening and going to bed at 7 ... who wants to spend any of the rest of the time doing MORE of what you've done all day? Seems very odd. Especially when some countries don't even send their children to school til 7 and my DD was doing homework at 4 years and 3 months!

Andro I did a bit the same but in senior school.. Can you think of anything that would have helped you act differently? <<pleads>>

paranoid2android Sat 02-Feb-13 00:16:48

It's great that you are thinking of new ways to help figure out how to help your daughter with her homework, and good in you for being strong about your positive patenting and not shouting at your daughter! It sounds like a very frustrating situation , knowing your daughter I'd bright but not seeing any results for it!
It sounds like she has some strong feelings about the homework and its pretty confusing trying to figure out why .
What has helped me is understanding that tears and tantrums, are the way children and adults release stress and tension. Tears actually contain the stress hormone cortisol.
When children can release all their feeling through crying they can change their mood and be a lot more clear headed. I think we have a common tendency to try and talk our children out of crying by rationalizing to them so they stop crying as quickly as possible , but if we can simply offer them some warmth attention and affection- if they'll let us, then your daughter can get to the end of her crying, release her stress and be in a better mood for homework.
Just setting some limits gently and warmly like 'you need to do your homework' and then being there for any emotional upsets that arise.
If she can work through her feelings with lots of warmth and love then she will be able to perform to the best of her abilities.

It might also be a good idea to think about your own feelings about your need that she must do her homework. Could you let go of this feeling for a bit ? She is still quite young and it sounds like she will do great in her own time

80sMum Sat 02-Feb-13 00:19:45

Homework? At 5 years old?! It shouldn't be allowed imo. Not fair on the child or the parents.

CecilyP Sat 02-Feb-13 11:17:44

Yes, it seems strange to unecessarily inflict this on a child in order for them to be upset, so that we can then offer warmth, attention and affection to help them realease their stress and get over it. Of course, there will be things in childhood that will inevitably be upsetting; there doesn't seem any need to deliberately inflict more than is necessary.

seeker Sat 02-Feb-13 11:20:17

Remind me how old this child is? Did you say 5?

Move schools.

HalfSpamHalfBrisket Sat 02-Feb-13 11:21:54

Don't do the homework.
It's a long day and there's far better things to do with freetime after school.
<militantly anti-homework reception teacher>

TheMightyLois Sat 02-Feb-13 11:44:33

Yikes, is homework at 5yo standard? DS is in reception so not there yet.

blueberryupsidedown Sat 02-Feb-13 17:09:57

Don't do the homework. DH is a primary school teacher and he'd say the same thing.

Or try to do it every day at the same time and put a timer on. Ten minutes a day. For some reasons when my DCs know that it's for a short time, they think it's some kind of competition and they think it's more fun. The quality isn't great though! But hey, they are very little. At least doing a little bit every day at the same time (we do this in the morning) I am hoping that they will get into the habit and it will be easier as they get older.

Andro Sat 02-Feb-13 21:57:04


I don't knot about the homework, other than reading we didn't have any in reception but with school work there were 2 issues:

1. I was bored out of my mind. I didn't like writing, I hated art and I loved maths but after attending a private prep school I could already do addition and subtraction, plus my father had taught me basic multiplication and basic division...I was streets ahead so 'learning' how count or add 2+5 was insulting. I needed the challenge before I started to really engage. My reading and comprehension were also miles ahead of my age so again, I needed very different books.

2. I genuinely didn't understand why I should put what I knew down on paper. My thought process was in 2 parts; if 'Miss' didn't know it, why should I tell her? followed by, if 'Miss' does know it, what good is me writing down going to do? The whole exercise seemed pointless.

What changed was the intervention of a very experienced reception teacher who sat down with me and explained that she thought I needed more 'big girl' work to do, but she needed to see how much I knew first so she could give me the right work. She also explained that sometimes school work was like following the rules at might not like it but you still have to do it. It took time, patience and a fair bit of one to one attention. First working orally to gauge my level and then mixing oral and written within the same exercise. Eventually it paid off, but I was 14 before I really started to enjoy writing for it's own sake.

Getting cross (parents or teacher) didn't work. I was stubborn to the point of pig headed, I needed a reason to do school work - 'because I said so' has never worked with me (either parental or teacher instructions).

Andro Sat 02-Feb-13 21:57:23


sittinginthesun Sat 02-Feb-13 22:06:10

OP, it sounds like far too much pressure to me.

How much homework is she getting? DS2 has just turned 6 and is in Year 1 - he gets homework once a week (plus spellings and reading), and that's fine, bit I wouldn't be happy with any more.

And keeping her in at lunchtimes is just too extreme IMO. At this age she should be encouraged to engage in her work, not turn it into a trial and chore.

With the writing thing, my friend's daughter is extremely bright, but has confidence issues with writing. She doesn't want to make a mistake when she commits to paper.

In your position, I would ease right off, and spend time playing, building Lego etc. Take the pressure right off.

loler Sat 02-Feb-13 22:06:34

Agree with the other comments - she's 5. Its 4 lines of writing - it doesn't matter!

My dd had similar sulks with homework (it's optional in our school) - I've never made her do it. Now in year 5 she choses to do it herself with no help, no pushing and in about 5 minutes!

At 5 it's not a big thing - so don't make a big thing about it.

IrnBruTheNoo Sun 03-Feb-13 08:41:26

DS1 is 5yo and he's had homework since his second week starting primary school. He enjoys it. From the start, I've explained that homework must be done as soon as he's home from school and then he can have all the rest of the afternoon to play, do as he pleases. He's happy with this set up and we've not had any problems (so far!).

I think if you set down what your expectations are for your DD, perhaps when it's all explained that it's important to do a little homework each day to help her learn and if she does, she'll get all her free time afterwards to play, possibly get a lovely treat after tea??

IrnBruTheNoo Sun 03-Feb-13 08:42:54

DS1 (5) has been getting homework Mon-Thurs (each day 15 mins approx., mix of reading and writing).

Badvoc Sun 03-Feb-13 08:45:08

Homework for a 5 year old is ridiculous.
Not surprised she doesn't want to do it.

CecilyP Sun 03-Feb-13 10:56:00

I think if you set down what your expectations are for your DD, perhaps when it's all explained that it's important to do a little homework each day to help her learn and if she does, she'll get all her free time afterwards to play, possibly get a lovely treat after tea??

This is just replacing the stick with the carrot. While I can see that this might work for a few sums or a worksheet, would it work for an open ended task like independent writing?

seeker Sun 03-Feb-13 11:01:39

Don't do it. A school day is quite long enough for a 5 year old- if she's having trouble getting things done in school, how is prolonging the agony out of school going to help?

teacherlikesapples Sun 03-Feb-13 11:16:56

I am also concerned about the scenario that is being set up here. With the combination of the work at school & homework- writing is becoming a punishment. Right at the stage that we want her to be practising & doing more of it.

I would ask the teacher if the school has access to any resource like handwriting without tears. I would want to know if there are any dexterity or physical issues with the writing. What is her fine motor skill like generally?- Can she do buttons, threading? What about mark-making when there is no target or end goal in mind?
Just having fun with creating marks without worrying about 'making something'.

Perhaps set up some fun mark making activities (without pressure) so you can observe her level of control. Present it as a fun game together. Tell you want to spend some special time, just doing something fun together.

One of those magna doodle boards, or perhaps drawing a picture, writing a shopping list for that toy store you want to visit, writing a birthday wish list (i.e something that excites, distracts) or a drawing game

Just so you can check things like- how does she hold the pencil? Is it the correct pincer grip? Perhaps her hand is getting fatigued?

If there is a physical reason then an OT referral would be helpful.

IrnBruTheNoo Sun 03-Feb-13 12:18:21

DS only gets one written task (sums or spelling sheet - lucky if it takes him any more than five mins to complete, tbh) and 6 pages to read from his book each day for homework (we're talking one sentence here per page, not huge paragraphs per page).

It has been stated by the school though, that if parents are concerned about the level of homework, then it will be reviewed. So far, nearly 5 months into the academic year, he's been managing fine with it all, as have many of his peers. If however, he got a huge amount to do one day a week, he probably would be put off homework for good. I am very impressed by DS's school and how they've approached homework for 5 year olds.

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