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Arghhhh!!! Homework! Arghhh!!!!!

(39 Posts)
dabdab Tue 26-Mar-13 22:24:44

How do you inspire/help/guide/force a child to overcome a procrastination habit? Just had my 12 yr old Dc begin homework that was due tomorrow at 7:40 'It will just take 20 minutes'. Finished at 9:40. She was brain dead and tired out and has done shoddy work, I am very cross!
If you have a child that struggles with this, how do you deal with it?

AuntieStella Tue 26-Mar-13 22:27:49

Homework before the telly is switched on.

We used to have a bit of CBBC and a snack before starting. But that always led to procrastination, and thus no post-homework wind down before bedtime.

dabdab Tue 26-Mar-13 22:40:28

I think this is part of the problem - I am a not consistent on this. She is often tired out and wants to have snack and chill out for a bit, and says will do homework after, but that leads to the sort of scenario you described. But what about the evenings they don't get in until 5 or so because of clubs?
What do you do about homework that is not due until next week - do you have them do it the day it is assigned, or do you let it slide a few days?

BlissfullyIgnorant Tue 26-Mar-13 22:57:16

Total telly ban except for weekends.
When that failed: Total telly ban, end of, including holidays.
Rewards when completed, though, and it had to be both DCs so there was a bit of mutual support.

Startail Tue 26-Mar-13 23:03:57

I keep out of it. I shout HW periodically and remind them if they are going out, but I refuse to check up on them.

I point blank refuse to read DD1 HW book it's illegible, DD2 wouldn't let me.

DD1 is a night owl and HW is often done late at night, DD2s is sometimes done at crack of dawn.

Both have lap tops and are adept at turning iPlayer into my maths at a footstep on the stairs.

ihearsounds Tue 26-Mar-13 23:14:33

At that age. I asked when they came home if they had homework. They said they would, and was fine, wasn't due until next week. Dc would waste the night doing anything but homework. Stuff that was due the next day, would eventually be done in a rush that night, because bedtime is bedtime and no exceptions.

After a detention or two, and a chat from teachers telling them they could do better, amazing how quickly they learned to manage their time better.

Sounds harsh. But, it is unrealistic to be constantly reminding them to organise themselves.

Also helped because they wanted to be more independent. And with independence comes responsibility. And if you aren't responsible enough to do your homework, then how can you be responsible to come in on time, because obviously, time is a problem for you. grin

dabdab Tue 26-Mar-13 23:36:07

I do think that sometimes I should leave her to it and suffer the consequences of her actions, but at the same time, if she leaves it until the last minute it is not just her that gets the consequences, but the rest of the family too who have to deal with hysteria, drama and tantrum. Also I do feel ultimately responsible. I am not sure how to encourage her. Nag nag nag just gets her back up and encourages obstinate refusal. Gentle 1x reminder means nothing gets done. I feel like there must be something I can do to get her into good practice of doing things early, instead of being doomed to a lifetime of suffering as a procrastinator!
When you say telly ban, does that mean mobile and computer ban too? If that is the case, how do you deal with homework that needs to be done on the computer?

Startail Tue 26-Mar-13 23:39:03

Enforcing bed time on DD1 is like catching an eel in boxing gloves.
She's not beyond reading between 12 and 1am after I've been in and turned her light off.
Or deciding she's tired and going to bed before her younger sister.

She's always been far better left to sort herself out. She gets really wound up if you send her to bed when she isn't tired. Did even as a toddler.

Startail Tue 26-Mar-13 23:57:10

Sympathy OP, DD2 does tantrum and worry and spread the misery.

I've done a lot of her project for her because it just wasn't worth it. She is the total opposite of chilled do it at midnight or at break DD1. She gets in a grade A tiz.

She's only in Y7, she'll get there, she can do the work without trying. She just gets side tracked and forgets or flustered about doing exactly the right thing hence the project panicking her. Detention will only make her very angry as she'd miss sports club. Would it teach her a lesson, I doubt it she'd just think the teacher was an arse.

Punishing highly strung people who already know they are in the wrong doesn't help.

That is the real problem with HW, children either know they have been lazy and resent the teacher rubbing it in or couldn't give a flying fuck about their grades and don't mind ending up in detention.

There is no answer, other than trying only to set really necessary HW and only going for DCs who genuinely don't try.

dabdab Wed 27-Mar-13 00:50:53

Hmm, is your DD my DD, Startail? It all sounds very familiar. Interesting post, and stuff to ponder on. Thanks.

tiredaftertwo Wed 27-Mar-13 16:03:32

Yes, I'd say (do say) no tv or Facebook (mostly) till after hw. Once they are in the habit, they see the benefits and it is easy (ish).

No way could I get in from a day at work, slump and dribble in front of tv for an hour, then power myself back up. They have snack/drink/chat if they want, then do hw. I think children hate cranking themselves up - mine both learned pretty fast that it is better to avoid the second cranking, and they often get in well after five. They often now start without even bothering with the drink and snack.

Schools, even great ones, are IME inconsistent with hw sanctions, and anyway that is a blunt instrument, and the sanctions are often delayed.

Startail Wed 27-Mar-13 16:14:49

Sanctions form school for not doing HW are always going to be difficult.
If you want to punish the can't be bothered, you have to punish DCs who genuinely forgot or who an unusually busy week.
They are upset at getting detention.

The can't be bothereds, are still not bothered.

Startail Wed 27-Mar-13 16:17:23

If you aren't careful you upset the wrong children and stress the perfectionists, who stress anyway.

The would rather chatter about Xfactor and the opposite sex bunch done care!

Startail Wed 27-Mar-13 16:35:33

Don't care

Dancergirl Wed 27-Mar-13 19:57:37

Thing is though, everyone is different. You can't force children to work productively straight after a long day at school if they're not that way inclined. Some children work better after a snack, wind down, bit of telly etc; others need to get on with it straight away.

As for a total telly ban?? I like to think this is a home not a boot camp. A bit of give and take I think otherwise homework will become a real issue and you'll end up with very resentful kids.

dabdab Wed 27-Mar-13 23:39:51

How long did it take your two to get in the habit, tiredaftertwo? Are they naturally inclined to do their homework, or not? I have one child that needs very little reminding, and is basically self sufficient, and another who is very able, but will resist until the ends of the earth. By nature she is distracted and at-the-last minute. Is it possible to get this sort of child into the habit of applying themselves?

JamieandtheMagicTorch Fri 29-Mar-13 20:02:00

I am just nodding vigourously to myself here. Having all these problems with my year 7 DS, as is my best friend with hers.

I am accepting that he does things differently from me, and that is probably good enough.

BooksandaCuppa Fri 29-Mar-13 23:39:11

I like to think that my approach, which works at the moment, is somewhere in between those mentioned here.

So, with ds (yr 7), I ask him every night when he comes in what homework he has outstanding and ask him to plan when he's going to do it: so as to give him responsibility for the decision making - but with me doing the reminding/providing the framework for the decision making. He feels like he's in control of what he does when and how long to spend on it but not left drifting with no support.

If he makes a bad decision, eg, 'I'll do some revision for French in the car on the way to school', and then gets a bad-ish mark in the test, he learns to make a better decision next time (some revision at home and also in the car!)

In the scenario you described in your OP, I would say I'd be inclined to only let her do the amount of time which is within the school's homework policy (eg an hour per subject, not two) and then write a note in her planner for the teacher to that effect, in case she could be working faster/smarter and needs to learn that, but then I've not followed through with that myself (ds spent 4 hours doing last week's English homework as he is a bit of a perfectionist but then he'd not had any for three weeks, so I felt it a bit wrong to restrict the time he spent, iyswim).

BooksandaCuppa Fri 29-Mar-13 23:45:03

I do think it's nearly impossible to motivate somebody else for them.

Ds was upset this week that, despite having a pretty full merit card, his best friend has an even more impressive tally. When I said, 'Well, I think E works and tries even harder than you do, ds,' he knew where I was coming from but not enough to warrant any more effort.

He's only year 7 and I think so long as he's not in trouble (he's not) and is trying reasonably hard (even mix of excellent and commendable for effort on his progress reports), the greater motivator of grades and careers will kick in at some point over the next couple of years.

tiredaftertwo Sun 31-Mar-13 10:14:45

dabdab, dunno. Neither of mine were extreme procrastinators, more disorganised, with procrastination as a sideline! I suppose they were relatively inclined to do their hw yes (as these things go).

The situation in your OP sounds horrid - and she will be tired the next day, get in more of a pickle and so on. So things that could be fun, stimulating and enjoyable become stressful and done badly.

I'd look at what she was doing up until 7.40, when she started her hw. I agree everyone is different and for some children this sort of delay may work - but it is not working for her. I'd also look at getting her to spend the set time on the hw provided she is concentrating, and make clear that once she has done a good hour (or whatever), that's it, her time is her own.

tiredaftertwo Sun 31-Mar-13 10:21:54

I should say I don't have much to do with hw now my two are older. And we all enjoy watching tv together of an evening. We were lucky in that they get set regular hw, so it wasn't just me saying don't get behind or things will get ugly.

I also think children get muddled between doing hw well and promptly and spending ages on it - I think that can cause procrastination because it is scary to begin. I'd encourage them in yr 7 and 8 to focus hard for roughly the time the school says, and if they want occasionally to go to town on a project or something, lovely, but being able to sit and steadily work through two or three tasks, efficiently and to a decent standard is a great skill to acquire.

fivecandles Sun 31-Mar-13 10:23:32

It's mainly about routine and it's also about teaching kids to get the stuff they don't want to do out of the way as quickly as possible so it's not hanging over them and then they spend more time enjoying the stuff they do want to do guilt free.

I wish I had been taught/learnt this lesson when I was younger. I have made very sure that my kids have learnt this lesson early so it's never an issue.

I am saddened to read that some parents leave it up to kids entirely or let them get into bad habits.

fivecandles Sun 31-Mar-13 10:24:57

My kids sit down to homework immediately after tea and before TV or chilling. They do at least some of their weekend homework on Saturday morning to avoid that awful Sunday night feeling and then the rest of the weekend is theirs.

tiredaftertwo Sun 31-Mar-13 12:39:40

I agree with fivecandles. I also think it pays off in other areas of life - I know adults who don't finish tasks - the holidays they want are always booked, they are late applying for jobs and so on. It causes stress and disappointment. So as well as school sanctions not really working (I agree with Startail), the consequences are much wider.

dabdab, just seen some more of yr qns. If she gets in late from clubs, are you around then? If so, I would give her a bit of help - not with the actual work, but make her a snack, and help her make a plan "You do your maths while I make dinner, then while I wash up you do your geography and we will both be free by seven and watch tv" or something, so it seems manageable. If you are not around, I'd maybe try saying you will be tired so let'sleave you a nice little cake, and see if you can get your hw done by the time I get home and then we can have a nice dinner in front of your favourite programme. Or whatever. I think small treats giving immediate gratification help establish a good routine, and then in the medium term dc see the benefits themselves (that lovely feeling on Sunday that everything is done). Just thoughts - I know all this varies loads between families, but I agree it is about routine and good habits. And all the schools I looked round said this too - none of them said do leave your 11 yo it.

As for hw not due till next week, I strongly encouraged my two to do it on the day it is set for - which is not always the day it is set. It depends how the school organises it. They did both learn the hard way that leaving it meant a weekend with seven homeworks or something. If she gets set big projects, I would help her break it down into smaller chunks.

dabdab Sun 31-Mar-13 23:03:37

Thank you tiredaftertwo, and others, for taking so much time to respond. I really do appreciate it. It is the wider reaching consequences that I worry about, as well as having an eye to the time when just 'winging it' and knocking it off quickly doesn't cut the mustard (GCSE's etc).
I am around and do many of the things that you suggest - make her a tea and nice snack, suggest doing it now while she is relatively fresh, etc. This is met with resistance and refusal. She is very independent. Her first words were 'do it self' and she remains that way to this day!
I think I am going to make it very clear that on days that there is homework due the next day, it must be done before any screen time (we don't have a telly - relaxation for her is to go on the computer to play games.
Only two things that I feel a bit anxious about are a) I don't want her to feel that she needs to start lying about what home work she has (or conveniently 'forget' until the last minute) b) much of the homework needs to be done on the computer, and it is very easy to switch between tabs.

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