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Homework....Aaaarrrghhh!!!!!

(17 Posts)
trailingspouse Mon 06-Jun-11 09:36:07

How much help do you all give your dcs with their homework?

My ds is 8 and gets a page or so of homework Monday to Thursday, usually some maths or sentences to consolidate class work. It's supposed to take about 20 minutes. He also has to read aloud to me or dh for 15-20 minutes. The reading is now no problem but getting the homework done is a daily NIGHTMARE. He has s snack and relaxes for a bit when he gets in, then goes and starts his homework - what I mean by that is he starts complaining and crying about it. I insist that he sits at his desk and has a go at the work before coming to me for help, which he always does within about 2 minutes. A typical scenario would be an hour and a half of him crying and threatening to throw the work in the bin. We often stop for dinner then try to get him to do the rest before bed, usually with little success.

Now he's not finding school terribly easy, but he IS capable of the work. I'm happy to help him, but he wants me to do it for him. My suggestions are met with more crying. He says he can't do it. If he does manage to get an answer down on paper, he will not move onto the next question. Also he refuses to attempt to read the instructions telling him what to do. He is quite prepared to go to school not having done it, or with any old thing written down even though it's all wrong. I've let him hand it in all wrong - it comes back with red pen all over it and a note telling us to do it again.

I don't let him watch tv or play on his DS until he's finished, so usually he doesn't get to Mon-Thurs. It feels kind of mean, but I don't know what else to do.

Anyone have this problem? I know he's only 8 and homework will not be his top priority, but I want to reinforce the idea that school work is not optional. Should I get tough or back off? I've got no idea, but what I'm doing now is not working. If he says he's not doing it I make him stay in his room, even though I know he's not doing it. I don't want him to need me to sit on him to even get started, he'll never make any effort to do it himself that way.

Thanks.

Flyonthewindscreen Mon 06-Jun-11 10:45:42

I think 20 minutes of homework a day plus 20 minutes of reading is a lot. My DS (9) has homework once a week, usually takes 15 minutes and no set reading. Could you have a word with his teacher and explain what a problem it is becoming?

fuckmepinkandcallmerosie Mon 06-Jun-11 10:50:42

Go talk to the teacher. My DD has reading, spellings, maths and english mon-thurs can take up to an hour and she's 9. But there have been nights I've written on the homework workbook "fuckmepinksdd could not do this homework in a sensible time therefore have abandoned the attempt. please contact me if you need to discuss further" They never have (contacted me I mean)

abeautifulbutterfly Mon 06-Jun-11 10:56:24

Well, we started the school year with the same problem. tantrums, crying, throwing things around.
I have found that the only way is to sit with my DD (7). I don't do it for her, but I do make sure she's understood and is following the instructions (I figure the more I sit with her now and instill in her the right way to read and follow instructions, the easier it will be for her (and me) later).
I also encourage her to use an abacus where necessary for sums, and to check her work once she's done it - all things she wouldn't think of on her own but improve the quality of her work and hopefully instill in her good learning habits for later on. After all, you have to learn how to learn as well as learning per se IYSWIM. Even just by reading her sentence work back to me she can spot many of her own mistakes.
And gradually we have had little bits of success. She will occasionally go into her room and say she wants to try her homework on her own now, and she only tantrums if the homework involves too much original thought hmm.
Patience is not my strong point, but I'm working on it and I've noticed that the more attention I give her (just my presence, not doing anything else), the better, faster, and more effectively she works.

Good luck smile

munstersmum Mon 06-Jun-11 11:07:28

As he always comes straight to you I just wonder if letting him start it in the same room as you might help? DS yr2 does his at the kitchen table but I am usually at the sink, so my back is towards him. This means he can ask me questions but I am not literally next to him. I tend to reply with 'well what does it day?' and a usually effective 'tea will be 20 mins later if I keep having to come over'. Not a super mum though we have our share of tears too.

I have to say though 20 mins every evening sounds a lot of homework. I would be asking if it could be split with some done over the weekend and a couple of nights off.

trailingspouse Mon 06-Jun-11 11:25:25

Thank you everyone for responding so quickly.

I guess I need to just accept I have to sit with him. He just won't even try. He sits there not even looking at the paper. Yesterday he had a question something like "You buy something for 4.50 and pay with a 10 pound note - how much change will you get?". I asked him how could he work that out - he ranted and raved a bit then eventually said "OK!!! I'll add the numbers together!" He's not even trying to think about it.

I have 2 other dcs who are being ignore because of all this drama.

It's so hard to stay calm. He's a bright boy but I don't see how he's going to get through school!

I've spoken to his teacher a couple of times and she said not to make too big a deal out of it at this stage, but to let him know clearly that just because he has a tantrum, the homework will NOT go away. She sometimes keeps him in at playtime to do it, which he does not like, but it doesn't make any difference the next time.

fuckmepinkandcallmerosie Mon 06-Jun-11 11:28:16

TBH (but DD isn't my PFB or first or second child) I'd ask the teacher what a reasonable amount of time is to spend on the homework, spend that then close the books.

There's no teach in Mum you know. wink

Up to her to keep him in, give him consequences for deliberately not doing his homework, if you're encouraging him as much as possible.

trailingspouse Mon 06-Jun-11 11:49:58

The guidelines we received at the beginning of the year said 20 mins, plus reading. The thing is, if he does it all, it probably does take him 20 minutes of actually working on it, the rest of the time is spent staring into space or protesting or crying.

MiceHaveFeelingsToo Mon 06-Jun-11 12:16:26

Talk to other parents in the class, it may be that many are finding this a struggle. In yr3, my DS has one piece of homework once a week (ie gave him the weekend to do it if necessary) plus reading and learning tables. For children who do after-school activities or whose parents work full-time, 20 mins of homework plus reading every day is unrealistic at this age. If there is a group of parents also struggling, you should go to talk to the teacher and try to find a compromise, eg twice a week but one is over the weekend.

I have found that the easiest way to get my sons to get it done is to talk them through the days of the week, what we are doing on each of them and when we can reasonably sit down to get the homework done. My DS2 (7) also gets very screamy and impatient so sometimes I just abandon the effort and tell him I cant help him in that mood. Funnily enough, that often does the trick and he then gets on with it on his own! DS1 (9) usually works in his room and if its a project-type of writing then we set a time limit, say 30 mins, after which he takes a break and can go back to it if he wants, or can leave it til another day.

You are definitely doing the right thing by encouraging the doing of the homework! As you say, it is a necessary evil and will only get more so as our kids get older. But I think that it needs to be cut down a little for your son now, if he's not to be totally turned off learning. [if the teacher is adamant that they need to do this amount, and his reading is of a good standard, then maybe you can bargain with him, eg if he gets the hw done without fussing then he can skip the reading out loud for that night. Reading is important but if you only heard him once a week, and got all the hw done, he would probably get on a lot better. Just an idea]

Good luck!

jaffacake79 Mon 06-Jun-11 12:22:46

Would a visual prompt in the instance you've given have helped? i.e. getting out £10 worth of change and letting him role-play the scenario and count the change?

DD is 8 and in yr3 and we sometimes have histrionics over homework too, mainly the ones that involve a lot of writing. She'll do it on the computer but hates having to "write". If it gets to the half hour mark and she's still throwing a fit then it gets put away and she has to explain to her teacher what happened. She normally has to stay in then to complete it. We have one set piece of homework a week and reading to do most days. So maybe an hour and a half a week total.

trailingspouse Mon 06-Jun-11 12:26:15

Good idea, will speak to other parents. We're quite new to this school so haven't got to know them that well that. I don't work, and neither do any of the other mums (not in UK, school is American curriculum), so I do wonder if's become the norm for mums to help out a lot more than normal. Or maybe 20 mins per day is normal in American schools, I don't know. Ds once went to play at another boy's class and the mum did the homework with both of them and it came back absolutely PERFECT, no spelling mistakes or anything. There's no way DS did it on his own. I prefer to help but it has to be his work imo, otherwise the teacher can't see how he's actually doing.

The homework is set each day to be brought back the next day, so he can't postpone it. He doesn't want to do many after school activities but the way it is with the homework at the moment I would have to restrict him anyway as it takes so much time just to get the minimum done.

trailingspouse Mon 06-Jun-11 12:27:47

Sorry for typos - another boy's house, I mean, not class.

trailingspouse Mon 06-Jun-11 12:31:22

jaffacake yes he's much better with visual prompts. I think he possibly has some dyslexic type difficulties but on tests he has come out in the normal range. His concentration isn't great either, his teacher says he needs a lot of refocusing in class. Luckily there are only 15 in his class so he can't dream for too long.

jaffacake79 Mon 06-Jun-11 12:37:35

Have a google of "Numicon" then. I don't know if the schools where you are run a programme similar to this, but it's been astounding in our school for children who are more visually oriented.

I agree with you, that homework is for the child and not the parent, so if there is an overload of parental involvement then the actual ability of the child is masked.

The small class size is great! But to have homework each evening to be handed in the following day is a lot of pressure, both for you and him. At 8 I think that school should really remain at school and home is for chilling out.

trailingspouse Mon 06-Jun-11 12:43:33

Thanks, I will look at that.

We are indeed lucky with the small class size. In general though I'm finding the American system very formal with lots of testing and worksheets, and a bit low on the practical hands on stuff. No choice about that at the moment though.

ragged Mon 06-Jun-11 13:06:51

Ah, American school, yes quite common. Not universal, but pretty darn popular "best practice" from I can figure out.

I wonder if I were in your shoes... I'd either
A) not do it at all and see what fuss they made, let him face the consequences (if any).

B) set a timer for 30 minutes, and tell him he has to sit quietly with the sheet until it's filled in or the timer is up. I would not check the work over, I would just hand it back and say "That's his own work".

I have 3 other children and can't sit down with just one half the afternoon, either.
Can I ask where you are, what the general cultural attitude is towards education?

trailingspouse Mon 06-Jun-11 13:25:46

We are in a small town in the middle of nowhere in Indonesia, so no other choice of international school. The prevailing attitude is not the local one, iyswim, just that of the bubble we exist in.

My instinct is to let him hand in the homework the way he has done it. However, if I ask him to check his work, he will add capital letters and full stops (sorry, periods!), but would not remember these spontaneously.

Today he eventually finished the sheet when DH came home and sat with him. But we didn't do any reading, and I'll write a note to the teacher saying he spent so long on the homework.

I do think it's too much. We usually swim before dinner but he didn't get to go today as he hadn't even attempted his homework. I hate that he misses it because it's fun and good exercise. But equally I can't let my 2 others miss out just beccause of him.

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