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homework battles

(13 Posts)
eminoxon Sat 19-Sep-09 20:41:36

hello, im new to mumsnet; just wondering if anyone has any advice re 7yr old daughter who is very bright but "cant be bothered". This goes for everything she does; excited about piano lessons for a week but then moans about practicing, when i try to get her to do her homework she puts up a fight, then aquiesces but then acts as if she is stupid (saying 9+1 = 13 etc). This morning i was pushed to the limit with her, when she had raced through getting most questions right and then saying she didnt understand how to do the ones she had got wrong.. they were all the same sort of question, and she knwe damned well! i dont want to be pushy but i do want to see her achieve at least someway towards what she is capable! swimming is the same.. she is happy to swim along in her own sweet way ( half drowning) and wont kick her legs harder unless she is told to often by her teacher!!thanks in anticipation

mathanxiety Sat 19-Sep-09 21:05:01

I think you have a very normal 7 yo on your hands. They love the idea of things, like playing the piano or swimming, but the actual spadework is horribly unattractive. Same for the homework, which sounds to me like pretty boring work, btw, (a series of questions that basically require the same operation over and over again). If you're determined to make her practice, then perhaps a chart with some nice reward for a week of 15 minute practices for the piano might help? For the swimming, I think expecting a 7 yo to master the strenuous and simultaneous arts of kicking, arm movements and breathing is a bit too much. Does she really have to take swimming lessons? The teacher sounds like a nag. Why not let her enjoy the water in her own sweet way?

You won't end up with a child who achieves anywhere near what she is capable of if you throw her into activities that require more focus and effort and interest than she is able to muster at age 7, but you will end up with a DD who will achieve the effect of driving you nuts if you don't modify your expectations and relax your approach.

eminoxon Sat 19-Sep-09 21:20:59

thanks for your response; she loves the swimming, and so i keep them up.. not really that bothered as i know she isnt really sporty in that way, but it was to illustrate her manner. I agree i should try and relax more, but unfortunately sticker charts dont work (or any sort of reward system) as she gets bored with them too! she appears to be so much older in alot of ways that it is hard not to forget she is only 7 though..

mathanxiety Sun 20-Sep-09 05:42:19

Sometimes asking a DC to 'teach' something to you, like piano or maths, makes them more interested. Or breaking the homework or practice session into manageable time slots (10 mins each?) might make it seem like less of a monumental task for her?

ABetaDad Sun 20-Sep-09 06:37:08

eminoxon - we have a 7 yr old DS2. Just the same. What you said about being interested and then suddenly not bothered. Deliberately getting it wrong if he is pushed. He does it with reading (not maths which he enjoys) - and will put in loads of mistakes if he is told to read aloud if he does not really want to do it. Even his teacher has noticed and she sends him away to read on his own and come back when he is feeling in a better frame of mind. Very annoying as he can read really well when he wants to.

What * mathanxiety* said about put being willing to put the spade work in is very true. If it comes easy with insant rewards then great but if it requires effort then not iterested anymore.

We do try and bite our lip though as he is a beautiful incredibly charming, loving, gentle soul who is a delight to be with and will no doubt get absolutely everything in life he needs by sheer force of personaility. We pick our battles carefully and have a routine for homework which is set in stone but as long as he does the bare minimum of what the teacher asks, plays 10 minutes of piano a week and gives everything a try then we back off. Pushing too hard is very counterproductive.

We think his problem is he has an older DS1 as a brother who is good at a lot of things and DS2 tries to compete with him all the time and gives up if he cannot do it like his brother within a few minutes. We have explained his brother is older and had more practice and that in fact DS2 is better at many things than DS1 but that is not good enough. He needs instant gratification.

eminoxon Sun 20-Sep-09 09:43:08

thanks for that; this daughter is the eldest, but her sister is 2yrs younger and very competetive, so perhaps it is something similar to what you describe. I was thinking of splitting the homework, although then we have the argument over coming to do it twice..already this morning, when i suggested to her she come and finish the homework from yesterday she told me firmly that she needed a rest before, otherwise she would be grumpy! she then of course gets grumpy anyway.. ho hum. this is quite therapeutic though, being able to write down whats happening! i know i need to take things less serioulsy but its jolly hard! she and i have such opposing personalities i think, though i love her dearly, and enujoyher company very much (when she is in a good mood); its a bit like living with a teenager half the time. she is very affected by the full moon, which now i know makes it easier to be calm and ignore her behaviour at that time

ihatethecold Sun 20-Sep-09 14:52:20

i hate homework with a passion, its just so stressful if your child doesnt enjoy school work. my ds drives me round the bend with it, i think they get far too much at a young age these days , even my 5 yr old has it , shouldnt they be playing, chilling after school?

smee Sun 20-Sep-09 20:35:53

Howabout with homework don't engage with it? Say once you've finished, we'll do x (a treat maybe - a biscuit or a game she loves). Give her five minutes to do it, then walk away. Expect her to do it because she can, be very matter of fact and don't whatever you do engage in any debate. If she refuses, say fine that's up to you, but you'll have to explain to your teacher. If she does it well or even not well, well really does it matter at seven. I'd bet you can have sneaky word with the teacher and ask her to help you out by playing bad cop if you need to.

Romanarama Sun 20-Sep-09 20:44:06

Ooh ABDad, yours are like my 1 and 2. DS1 is very good at lots of things (school, sport, piano) and hugely motivated to improve and practise and be the best. It's so easy for me and dh because he's driven so really good at school, and he really enjoys all his extra-curricular activities because he gets fantastic feedback from teachers etc.

DS2 has no particular problem with anything, but is convinced he's rubbish at everything compared to his brother, who is anyway 2.7 yrs older. If he can't do something straight away he just gives up and half the time he'd rather not try. It requires a huge amount of time and energy from parents ime. Hard with 2 other kids to deal with. Luckily he's looking like being brilliant at swimming - he can swim front crawl well and he's not 5 yet. I'm sending him to swimming club and playing that up quite a lot to try to give him confidence that he has skills and talents. Fingers crossed it will last!

ABetaDad Sun 20-Sep-09 22:05:04

Romanarama - interesting the swimming has increased his confdence. DS2 is exactly the same. He has been put up a swimming group at school so now he swims in the same group as his older brother and feels enormously proud of that.

Things did also pick up in the classroom after that swimming promotion. He is also a better gymnast and Judo player and artist than DS1 so I hope that helps him too.

mathanxiety Mon 21-Sep-09 02:05:28

With the homework, I always left it between the child and the teacher. I never wrote notes if they didn't do it unless there was a reason such as picking someone up from the airport. If they couldn't understand it and gave up I would note that on the page and then the DCs would have to deal with the teacher the next day. I made a point of praising an honest effort, though. I started doing it that way because I resented being an unpaid and untrained assistant to the paid and trained teachers. I also figured the teachers would like to see, honestly, how much of what they taught was getting through, so I just let the DCs get on with it and allocated a reasonable time, broken up into small increments, for them to do it. I think homework hassles cause problems, or provide a handy battleground, for parents and children sometimes -- luckily my DCs never got any until age 6, in the US. But I think it's something that should be squarely between the child and the teacher.

mmrsceptic Mon 21-Sep-09 06:52:02

I think the reason they do the "getting things wrong" can be because they want to deliberately not try because then they can't fail. Not sure if it is the same with yours.

I would not push on the homework. You could be setting up a system of resentment and 100 pc involvement on your part which (I am not joking) can last years. Your encouragement will quickly become to her, nagging and then simply white noise. At this time homework is 100000000 pc less important than later and you really don't want to be setting up that system. It could even put her off "required" reading.

I would say "I am here to help" for whatever, 20 mins, till teatime, however long they are recommended to spend on it, and then homework stops, no more homework, it goes in the bag.

From then it's up to the teacher to speak to her. Tell the teacher what you are doing ie the recommended time, and explain the reluctance.

Your relationship will improve and within time she may be more prepared to accept help and focus for longer.

My own private opinion? the swimming lessons are more important and other activities. And reading reading reading. Reading's more important than anything. But reading and homework can become conflated under one big headline of NAG and that's really difficult to overcome!

ihatethecold Mon 21-Sep-09 17:49:00

hey good advice mmrsceptic, well put smile

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