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Homework time = chaos- help!

(8 Posts)
ElinElin Fri 19-Oct-12 08:53:40

DD is in Year 2. She gets homework once a week, but I try to do a bit every day. Her home work maybe across 2 days and on other days practising maths since dd is struggling a bit with maths. As soon as we sit down to do the work my ds (17 months) starts to play up. He wants dd attention and tries to pull her or starts crying. I find it so difficult to help DD with homework with DS needing attention. Also because of this I find myself being less patient with DD and I really need to be when doing her maths especially since she struggles a lot. Any tips on how to get through homework time and be patient and help DD.

roadkillbunny Fri 19-Oct-12 10:03:50

I have been there with this and would end up setting ds up at the table with some paper and crayons while i helped dd but it still wasn't great. What we do now which works well is ds goes to bed a half hour before dd and while dh takes ds up to bed I stit with dd to do her homework.
Things are a whole lot easier now as dd is in y3 and ds has just started school himself.

redskyatnight Fri 19-Oct-12 10:06:11

Assign a time as "homework time". Give DS some "homework" to do - just let him scribble or give him jigsaw or ask him to put blocks in a line or something similar. Explain that homework time you all must work quietly. Spend some time 1:1 with both children (tell them that is what you are doing in advance). Also encourage DD to do as much homework by herself as she can - so you keep the sitting with her to a minimum.

Seeline Fri 19-Oct-12 10:09:43

Would another time of day be easier? Eg before school - could DS be having some breakfast to keep him occupied while you help DD? Or DS could have an afternoon snack whilst helping DD after school? If DS is put in his high chair with some crayons or toys that would stop him physically distracting DD, and might keep him quiet ofr a bit.

PastSellByDate Fri 19-Oct-12 10:20:49

Hi ElinElin:

You sound a bit outnumbered. First of all I suppose the question is are you a single parent or do you have a partner there that can help support you?

Our solution to this problem was for one of us to do reading with DD1 whilst the other helped DD2 have her bath/ shower and then visa versa. In this way both DDs got a chance to read aloud with one of us and/or have us read with or sometimes to them.

Since you have a week to do the school homework - is this something that can be fit in at a different time. Perhaps at the weekend whilst your DS is napping? Or could your partner/ friend watch your DS and give you a clear hour to work with your DD?

Now keeping your toddler DS distracted for an extended span of time is always tricky. Does he like colouring? Could you get lots of crayons and paper & set him up on his high chair and tell him that he should do his 'homework' whilst you work with his sister on math?

Would something like mega blocks/ wooden blocks distract him? Would toy cars distract him? Or puzzles?

I know that there is a lot of press out there against letting under 3s watch tv and every family has their own opinion - but perhaps 1/2 hour of watching a show you approve of would give you the spare time to be working quietly with your DD elswhere (nearby in the kitchen, at the other end of the room, etc...).

It is nearly impossible to persuade a toddler that you should be paying attention to someone else/ something else - so I do feel for you - but this will pass. Try and build a routine (so regularly doing homework at certain times) so that it becomes so much a part of his normal week that he doesn't question that you're working with your DD. If you can persuade him that he's working on something too - a puzzle, a drawing, reading a book (possibly just chewing it) doesn't matter - but if he can be occupied and pretending to be a student too he may give you the space and time you need to support your DD.

Finally - can some of the maths work be done through gaming - whereby you get her on to the website and get her started, but she can pretty much do the work from there?

Useful websites:


Woodlands Junior School Maths zone:

Crickweb KS1 Numeracy:

Coolmaths for kids:

Your school may also have a discount on on-line learning sites like Education City or Espresso - these are worth joining and again have lots of on-line support for learning, which your DD can probably work herself once you've got her logged in.


ElinElin Fri 19-Oct-12 10:30:03

Thanks for your tips. I have tried sitting him in the highchair put after a couple of minutes he would start throwing the pens around. And the trouble is he doesn't even really want my attention, he wants DD attention. DH works until about 7.30 -8pm so he cannot help during the week. I don't want to leave all the homework until the weekend and also I try to do maths with her at least 5 times a week. The reading is fine. We usually do this at bedtime and either DS is asleep or he is drinking his milk listening to the story. I haven't tried puzzles yet so will try this. Haven't tried tv cause thought it might distract DD but maybe worth a go. I could sometimes let her do the games on the computer but sometimes I need to sit down with her since she struggles and I need to try and find out how she is thinking and get her to explain the answer to me so that I can help her.

In your position I would save h/w for the weekend as Pastsellybydate suggests - presumably your 17 month old still naps at least for 40 mins or so a day? That may be enough time if nap time = homework time. (I also have a 17 month old who gets jealous if I focus attention 1:1 on anyone else, a 7 year old - and a 5 year old too, for good measure).

We are abroad and DD has homework every day, which is supposed to take an hour, and on top of that she is meant to read for 10 mins, practice mental arithmetic with me for 10 mins, and go over previous weeks spellings (the last never happens , oops, but luckily her spelling is OK, like your DD maths is her weakness).

Things that work for us on weekdays are

1. Break written h/w down into 15 minute segments and make sure she understands the question but then send her off to do it alone upstairs - bring it down when done, rewarded with a 5 min break downstairs if she did it without undue procrastination (she does her h/w better alone, drags it out endlessly if I'm in the room). Promise to do something she enjoys/ let her watch TV or similar if she finishes everything by X (sensible, achievable, with a bit of slack) time.

2. Practice mental maths at spare moments (while getting dressed, in the car, while cooking etc.) DD's teacher pointed out that once they crack the mental arithmetic (adding and subtracting and tables in their heads) so that it becomes automatic, everything else comes much easier.

3. Reading aloud can be done at bedtime either in addition to you reading to her, or alternate nights. She could also/ alternatively read to you while you bath your toddler, unless bathing them together is a part of your routine and the kids enjoy it so you don't want to change it.

ElinElin Fri 19-Oct-12 11:04:55

Thanks for tip about practising mental maths at spare moments. I will really try to do this.

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