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Homeschool nightmare- please help!

(28 Posts)
noloh1 Wed 06-Jan-21 13:55:08

I need some help, it’s day two and I’m really struggling. My son is 9, in year 4. The school set work online that needs to be done each day, but each day is a nightmare and I end up shouting and we both end up stressed. I just don’t know what to expect from a 9 year old regards doing the work himself.

For example today, he has to read some info and create a fact file. So we read the information together, watched a video on how to make a fact file. I told him how to get started, we did a spider diagram thing of ideas and then I told him to crack on. For the next 3 hours, I pop in and out asking how it’s going, but each time he’s staring at the paper. I ask if he needs help, I explain how to do it again, etc. And in all the time from 9am til now, he’s wrote 5 lines. Unless I literally tell him exactly what to write, or do it for him, he just sits there doing nothing. And then unfortunately today, I’ve shouted, said he can’t go on Xbox later and now he’s upset and crying. I feel awful. There’s four other pieces of work to do today. How can I get better and not shout? Am I being unreasonable, and do all 9 year olds need a constant level of support/telling him the answers? Is this what teachers do? I don’t know how to get round this, or if I’m expecting too much. I feel awful that I’m all he’s got to learn from for the next few months.

Yesterday, he had to answer some questions, we talked through the answers but he doesn’t seem to have any ideas himself. I gave him a few ideas and left him to write them down, and an hour later he’s wrote one tiny thing that doesn’t make sense.

Everyday I wake up, thinking we’ll have fun learning together today, but everyday descends into arguments. I feel like the worst mum in the world! Please be kind and help me!

OP’s posts: |
OverTheRainbow88 Wed 06-Jan-21 13:56:53

3 hours is far too long, at that age the learning is broken down into about 10 min slots as such.

10 min read info, 10 min watch, 10 min fact file, break, 10 min fact-file

noloh1 Wed 06-Jan-21 13:57:43

Sorry this is long, but so as not to drip feed, he has problems being slow at school. All his teachers always say that the work he does would be very good, if he only did enough of it. He’s had this problem all through school and I’m worried as he gets older, it’s really going to impact him negatively.

OP’s posts: |
OverTheRainbow88 Wed 06-Jan-21 13:58:20

Maybe he struggles to write his ideas down... try sentence starters, so give him the first half of the sentence and he finishes it.


The Romans wore....

The Romans invented....


endofthelinefinally Wed 06-Jan-21 13:58:28

All 9 year olds are different. I would break the task down into much smaller components, literally 1 small step at a time. Give him 10 minutes each time and check back.

Iveputmyselfonthenaughtystep Wed 06-Jan-21 14:01:09

No advice. Only solidarity. My son is exactly the same. However mine has diagnosed adhd. I was in tears on his zoom call today trying to get him to cooperate. Bet I'm the talk of the staff room. This is so shit. I really have no advice.

Notnamechangeday Wed 06-Jan-21 14:02:50

It’s hard - I have a independent year 6 usually! But all I’ve had is I don’t understand I need help (she doesn’t) so trying to work and homeschool is a nightmare!!
We’ve do 40 minutes top and break for 20 - anymore than that doesn’t work!

noloh1 Wed 06-Jan-21 14:09:18

I do check back regularly and he just wouldn’t have wrote anything after ten minutes, so we’d get nothing done at all. If I give him the subheadings or help with the first part of sentences- is this okay, or is it me doing the work for him? At school, would they say ‘write a fact file’ and everyone does it, or would they sit with them and give them all the ideas? Maybe I’m just overestimating what he should be capable of. It’s so hard. I’ve had the day off today and we’ve barely managed anything. Tomorrow I’m working from home so will be worse.

OP’s posts: |
noloh1 Wed 06-Jan-21 14:10:21

So say, after 40 minutes it’s break time, but he’s not done any work. After break, do we go back to the same work?

OP’s posts: |
Itllbeaninterestingchristmas Wed 06-Jan-21 14:10:35

I was always told the age plus 10 minutes is all a child can concentrate for. As others have said break it down into chunks. Have a break time, lunch time, walk outside, subject change. You could try setting a timer, work hard for 10 mins then do something of his choice for 5 mins.
Its a darn sight easier teaching other peoples children than your own!

ILiveInSalemsLot Wed 06-Jan-21 14:13:39

Did you discuss what would go in the fact file? That might help. Then it’s up to him to find a way to get what he wants to present on to the paper.

growinggreyer Wed 06-Jan-21 14:13:53

If he was in class the teacher would say write a fact file, half the kids would crack on, half of them would take a shufti at their neighbour's book and then write theirs based on what their friends are doing. I think you should start him off with every job so he can see how you would begin. Talk out loud about your thoughts so he can see that there is a mental process there, you don't just get your ideas from fresh air.

Notnamechangeday Wed 06-Jan-21 14:15:47

@noloh1 it’s pure bribery here - you can watch some you tube/gaming if in the allotted time you’ve achieved at least a bit of work. She randomly did a exercise thing in you tube.

It’s not easy she currently wiggling sat on the chair next to me doing anything but listening to the oak lesson - but I’ve asked her to do two lessons then she finished - if she does the work.

growinggreyer Wed 06-Jan-21 14:17:15

Also, add rewards for him doing anything. If he has written something on paper for you today then he can have screentime. Even things he would have got anyway. Great job, go and get yourself a drink and a snack! It all builds positive feelings towards his work.

SatsumasOrClementines Wed 06-Jan-21 14:22:02

I’ve taught some children who sound just like your son. Lovely, lovely children but oh my goodness so slow at producing work! A few bits of advice:

• When you’re talking together don’t expect for him to be listening to you or for him to be able to remember what you said. Together you might come up with a good sentence about the Romans but if it’s not from his mind and his mouth then chances are it won’t stay with him long enough for him to be able to write it down later. It needs to come from him, not you. (You could give him sentence starter prompts though.)

• Get him to make sound recordings that he can listen to and write down. Eg ask him to tell you a fact about something specific (what the Romans wore for example) or to read a fact from the spider diagram you made together. Get him to speak that sentence into your phone (or buy a sound button from amazon). Then leave him alone with the sound button to write the sentences down.

• Break the task up into tiny bits: a fact file is massive for a slow worker/daydreamer. Instead say you need to write 3 bullet points about X. Set an achievable timer to show him how long he has.

• Would he be better typing instead of handwriting?

• Clear and consistent rewards and sanctions. If you write the three bullet points before the timer goes off then you can do/have X. If you don’t then Y. After he’s achieved something get him to tell you how good it felt to achieve it and tell him you’re proud of him.

• Don’t leave him for ages. He’ll just daydream the time away. Do things in short bursts.

• Don’t beat yourself up about it! A few small achievements are better nothing. Be kind to yourself.

PerpetualStudent Wed 06-Jan-21 14:24:41

It’s so tough. It sounds to me like he might benefit from more scaffolding- the task being broken down into smaller, more concrete tasks. I know ‘write a fact file’ sounds like a small concrete task already but as you’ve seen it can still feel overwhelming for some kids!

So in the example you gave, maybe doing something like ‘write the title’ and giving him 5/10 mins max. Then ‘write the first fact’ and so on. So he’s doing small little micro tasks and getting the reward of seeing it take shape, rather than being left with what feels like an overwhelming job.

Also try to make the prep/planning phase as active as possible for him - ask rather than tell, so for e.g. ‘so after watching the video, what is the first thing we need to do to start our fact file?’ and get him to take the lead on physically creating the spider diagram etc (you may already be doing things like this TBF) The idea is to get him as active and engaging in the planning, and then keep the execution as short and manageable as possible so hopefully he starts getting that positive feedback of achievement which will motivate him to more complex/independent tasks down the line.

My take is unfortunately teachers and TAs don’t always have the time to do this close/engaged work in the average classroom, so some kids get into a routine of doing the bare minimum and just waiting it out until the task/topic moves onto something else.

PerpetualStudent Wed 06-Jan-21 14:26:26

Satsumas makes some great points too -genuine verbal engagement is more valuable than mere words on the page!

OverTheRainbow88 Wed 06-Jan-21 14:41:17

At school, would they say ‘write a fact file’ and everyone does it, or would they sit with them and give them all the ideas? Maybe I’m just overestimating what he should be capable of

I can’t imagine many kids being given a blank piece of paper and being told to write a fact file and being able to do it.

I would write at least subheadings for them to write under and sentence starters- I still do this with lots of year 8s

AllWashedOut Wed 06-Jan-21 14:42:01

Sounds like my DH last lockdown who was same age as yours and is an able, literate boy. Honestly? Scrap the work. Move onto something he enjoys/responds to. If that is nothing today, go out/read/paint/watch TV. Whatever he enjoys. Scrap lessons and start afresh tomorrow.

When they want/can, they get on with it in leaps and bounds. When they won't/can't, they sit for three hours staring into space.

GlowingOrb Wed 06-Jan-21 14:46:43

It’s ok to help him get started or to find a way to make it work for him. My own dd was struggling with a paper recently. She swore she knew the info and just needed to write it down, but nothing was getting written. I had her tell me about one section verbally. Asked her questions. Basically helped her structure her knowledge into a paragraph and then Pointed out what we had done and told her to write it down, which she did in about 3 minutes. I can do this now because I’ve been homeschooling since last March. I used to scream and yell and get frustrated. Then I realized I had to meet her where she is and things got so much better.

2bazookas Wed 06-Jan-21 14:57:38

Teachers don't leave 9 yr olds to get on with it for 3 hours unsupervised , just "popping in and out".

I would suggest you try breaking up tasks into smaller sections . Then give him a very clear task ( 10 sums. Find five synonyms for "lucky".) and a defined time to do it; around 20 minutes. using a kitchen timer (let him set the timer).
While he's working, you could be quietly busy nearby in the kitchen or next room; don't have the TV on, no distractions).

EleanorElena Wed 06-Jan-21 15:05:41

I also have a Yr 4 son and last year was frequently in tears trying to get him to do his work. I’ve changed my approach and it’s been a lot calmer so far (admittedly we’re only on day 2!)
- I thought about what my main objectives are. For me, it’s for him to keep up with English and maths and to submit as much of that as possible. This involves me sitting with him for most of these lessons to achieve this!!
- For the other subjects, I want him to cover the material and learn something. So he’ll watch videos, ppts, etc. We’ll chat about the topic and make sure he understands it. But I’m relaxed about whether there is an written "evidence" as that is just one battle too many.
I would think about why you want him to create a fact file - do you think it is significantly helping him to learn the facts? Eg vs watching a video you could find on YouTube, bbc bitesize etc. Or do you want him to do it to keep the teacher happy - at the expense of your own and your son’s relationship and mental health?

VintageStitchers Wed 06-Jan-21 15:08:37


Forget the work set by the school and try to find things that he will naturally engage with.

I’ve set my DS (11) some tasks involving coding on his laptop. I’d already got the books so he’s working through them a few pages at a time. We’ll do some other stuff later. He enjoys maths so I’ve found stuff online that he can do, I’m not going to push him to do stuff that he doesn’t enjoy.

You’re both stuck at home because we’re in a pandemic, he’s not in prison. It shouldn’t be about rewards and punishment.

You are not his teacher but his parent. He’s 9, he’s got many years ahead of him to do the boring school stuff, when he’s in school.

Limosa Wed 06-Jan-21 15:17:57

My DD is 9 and exactly the same. First lockdown if the work was 'write a story' I'd leave her to write it and she'd do nothing at all except shout "I can't do it!" From listening to her on zoom lessons the teacher spoon feeds verbally every single thing, they discuss every sentence, noun, adjective, concept first and write it down in tiny bits as they go along. I was amazed at how engaged she was in a verbal, social environment, she constantly had her hand up, when for me, like your son, she would spend hours staring at a blank sheet of paper rather than write a few words if I left her. It is a real struggle at home but like a pp said, learning is the goal so if he's taking information and can discuss it with you go with what he's interested that is better than sticking to the exact task but getting nowhere. Also describe what he is like to the teacher and ask them for tips. Last lockdown mine said to skip some of the tasks that weren't working and focus on other things.

Musicaldilemma Wed 06-Jan-21 15:27:16

I would email the school OP and tell them what is happening and ask them to engage your son as it isn't working. Ask for help.
My 9 year old (now in Year 5) is working independently with teachers mostly on zoom and knows exactly what to do, same applied in year 4. The teachers are directing him. All I provide in the morning is paper, pencil case and anything extra required, like special art materials.

Even my Year 2 is doing most of his work with input from the teacher on zoom. So he has for example today done English, Music, Art, Maths and produced a drawing. The teacher goes through the work on zoom and describes what needs to be done for about 20-30 minutes and they discuss it and then the kids do the work for about 20 minutes. Parents upload at the end of the day to the website. They are doing all the work into workbooks the school has handed out so the teachers can supposedly look and use the workbooks for progress when they are back at school.
Also, I would suggest a friend as a work buddy, if that can be facilitated. They need some sort of contact with their friends on phones/zoom/or through gaming (if any of that is possible).

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