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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?

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 04-Apr-13 18:15:56

Also, to add, that where it counts, in terms of a questioning mind, willingness to think, and inquisitiveness, it is all there.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 04-Apr-13 18:14:47


Very interesting. I wonder if you are right. I succeeded through what i now think was a lot of girl swottedness, perfectionism and general fear of failure. Over- work really.

DS1 has a differrent attitude, and whilst I am trying to pass on some of my wisdom, I do sometimes wonder ifnhis pragmatic approach is actually not that bad. ........

Startail Thu 04-Apr-13 18:09:06

I'm not sure how closely attitude to HW and attitude to wanting to do well at school are linked.

I suspect far far more loosely than the home learning policy would like.

If you do well in setting tests, prepare for CAs and do well in exams a huge amount of interminable history projects, writing up science beautifully and completing geog, PHSE or REsheets doesn't matter one jot.

Practicing maths, learning MFL vocab and reading you set books yes, but an awful lot of HW is noise set because parents and HTs think it builds character and a good work ethic.

I'm not convinced, I think valuing education and knowing when effort is required is far more complicated than do pg.4 for Friday.

tiredaftertwo Wed 03-Apr-13 23:05:39


ThreeBeeOneGee Wed 03-Apr-13 20:45:38

grin He's no paragon, believe me! He has Asperger's and takes instructions very literally, so when I suggested that he do homework the day it's set, he decided to follow that to the letter. I think we might need to work on his flexibility before he starts secondary school in September.

tiredaftertwo Wed 03-Apr-13 19:23:03

MTS, you are so right. Lots of parents seem to think that, they may be right for all I know, but I cannot see why teachers spend hours setting and marking homework and setting tests and exams for internal consumption (another common feeling seems to be that only public exams matter) in that case.

So much is habit and routine - and starting with good habits early also helps the dc find the way they best like to work and revise - there is fun and satisfaction to be had.

ThreeBeeOneGee Could I borrow your ds2 please, to come and set a good example with holiday hw smile?

ThreeBeeOneGee Wed 03-Apr-13 07:58:17

As a general guideline, in primary school I would multiply the year number by five and then expect them to do that number of minutes in total of a combination of homework / times tables / spellings / reading aloud each day. So five minutes a day in Y1 building up to thirty minutes in Y6.

Secondary school is a bit more variable. DS1 seemed to have loads of homework in Y7 and hardly any in Y8.

MTSgroupie Wed 03-Apr-13 00:43:38

Whenever the subject of home is discussed there is no shortage of people telling me that homework at primary school and for the first few years at secondary school is pointless.

Well, doing regular homework since Year 1 may not have made my DCs any cleverer but it has got them into the study habit.

Speaking generally many parents have a 'children should be children' attitude with regards to studying and homework during the early years but come Year 9 or so expect them to adapt to studying for GCSEs just like that.

dabdab Tue 02-Apr-13 23:48:18

That is helpful, ThreeBeeOneGee, it gives me hope that doing some 'training' will pay off in time, and that although it won't change DD's nature, it might help her get into a good habit.

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 02-Apr-13 18:38:36

The thing DS1 struggles with is starting off a big project or essay, the sort of thing where a couple of thousand words is required. He knows how to do the research and I have taught him how to break the task down and plan it, but that first paragraph is always the hardest!

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 02-Apr-13 18:30:40

I try to set up expectations in Y4/Y5 that they'll do the homework the day it's given, unless there's a pressing reason not to (lots of stuff after school that day, for example) in which case they can delay it by a day or two but no more.

I would expect them to settle down and start the homework within less than half an hour of arriving home. Certainly no TV or computer games until it's done.

This sounds really strict but the older two (Y8 and Y6) now just get on with it out of habit, without any prompting from me. Without me mentioning it, DS2 had finished all his holiday homework (about two hours of it) on the afternoon they broke up for the holidays.

It has taken longer for DS1 to develop a similar level of self-motivation towards revision,perhaps because the consequence of neglecting to do it is more long-term. He is starting to self-motivate a bit more now he's in Y8.

dabdab Mon 01-Apr-13 22:30:16

Thanks for the clear suggestions - now have to (ulp!) implement!

tiredaftertwo Mon 01-Apr-13 17:50:46

You are very welcome dabdab smile

I echo yotty - there will be rows and then it will be much easier. And you can plan family life because you know when hw is (i agree abt the 5-6 slot as well, assuming that gives her a bit of a gap between getting in and starting but not so much she has unwound by then)

Personally, I would not start from the assumption that you do hw the night before it is due - depending how the school sets it that could mean 6 in a night and gives no time if she has forgotten something or the printer runs out of ink or something. Could you ask the school what the hw timetable is, and for any useful info (sorry, schools seem to vary so much it is hard to be specific). Or as suggested work one out with her.

I think I would then try saying - as yotty suggested - you do an hour (or whatever will keep her on top), no screen till it is done. And make very clear tat hiding hw will be met with very severe sanctions, and also that you have/could be in touch with school. And I completely agree about doing it at the kitchen table till she is older - that will help with the computer thing. Does a lot of the hw have to be done on the computer or is it what she prefers? My dc have found they are often quicker not using the computer.

Her independence will stand her in good stead, this is just a little tweak so she can be really independent from now on.

yotty Mon 01-Apr-13 12:09:46

I feel for you, this is really hard to manage. My DS, only year 4 can be exactly like your DD. I thought having a break first was good idea initially, especially after coming home at 5pm. But I found winding him back up again really hard work particularly if the TV gets switched on. So now we do homework straight away. He even has a drink/snack whilst he is doing the homework, just walks through the door and sits at kitchen table whilst I prepare supper. The first week was a nightmare but it is a breeze now.
My friend has teenagers, they all still do homework at the kitchen table and only have a computer in the room adjacent to the kitchen, so the kids know mum is close by and use the computer appropriately.
Another friend helped organise her DS at the beginning of the term. Generally, if the homework was set to be given in in say a week, generally this happened every week, so a pattern evolved. So she sat down with her DS and worked out a homework timetable for the whole week. She even accommodated for after school activities by suggesting he only do one subject on the day of his activities but 3 on the days he didn't.
Personally, I think they need a set time frame for getting the work done, so they dont procrastinate. Tell her she is doing homework from say 5-6pm then it's relaxing time. At 6pm put the books away and write in her planner that she failed to finish the work in the required time due to her procrastinating. She will then have to deal with the consequences if the work is not finished.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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?

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.

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