Help needed to avoid battles over homework (DS in reception)(36 Posts)
DS1 is in reception and appears happy and settled at school. The feedback from parent's evenings has been positive. But homework has become a real battlefield recently, and they get - I think - quite a lot (reading twice a week, and writing, spellings and maths once a week).
He never wants to do it, so straightaway is in a grump. And then he will either argue over every last thing (telling me today that his way of writing "o", like some sort of deformed tadpole, is the "way we do it at school") or just guess answers (we are still struggling on things like the order of the days of the week, or numbers after 10). Reading is "easy peasy", only it's not because he can sound out the letters and then just makes a random guess at the word. It goes on.......
I know that part of the problem is that I am pregnant and tired and grumpy with it, and that I have to do most of the homework with him as DH works long and strange hours. I also know, if I am honest, that I find it frustrating because all my friends' children seem to be miles ahead (I am trying so hard not to join in the competition, but....) and because my family are all pretty academic too, and I worry that he won't be. But I need some reassurance or solutions, because I have been horrible to him the last few times we've tried to do anything. And I know that won't help at all.
My DD is the youngest in her class (August born) and I was very worried when I realized it's not all play-based in Reception. In the first term she got three books to read per week and also handwriting practice. She was eager to go through all of it, including handwriting... until Christmas.
Currently they get 5 books per week (one a day) but book gets changed ONLY if they read it by the next day. Most days we do, as she's an avid reader, we get extra books from the library over the weekend (which I mostly read to her but then she also tries to read them on her own). She reads food labels, restaurant menus, anything really.
However, the handwriting practice is a struggle. She refuses to do it. I'm not stressed over it, I do try to encourage but we missed a few. Feedback at parents' evening was great and her teacher told me not to push her hard to do anything, because she's very curious and eager anyway, and at this stage she doesn't need to do homework. Keep her happily engaged.. she said. (I love her teacher!)
First of all: I understand the pressures of coming from an academic family (which can be quite snobbish about intellectual ability - as they perceive it). And the pressures of being pregnant and tired.
All of which lead to frustration and pressure and generally feeling horrible!
And having been in all those places, I would definitely advise backing off the homework, not worrying about your son's abilities (because whatever they are, homework in Reception is not going to affect them, plus you won't really know how able he is for some time yet!) and just enjoy reading with him whenever possible.
It is very hard not to take on board all that insecurity and competitiveness from others, but you probably know, deep down, they have their priorities muddled. I would try mentally dumping all anxiety-driven attempts at 'achieving' in a bin labelled 'recycle' and give yourself and your ds a well earned break
Oh heavens, what kind of school is this? I'd be inclined to say to the teacher that you feel your DS is too tired/little for HW, then read lots with him instead and leave it at that. I have two boys, neither of whom were remotely ready for anything like HW in reception - or year 1 . They got a couple of reading books a week and from half way through year 1 a few spellings each week. Real HW never kicked in until Y3. Their school is rated outstanding; I used to worry when I saw kids (especially girls) from other schools getting more work and racing ahead, as like you I have an 'academic' family and had naively assumed work would come naturally to my children, and I thought the more laid-back approach at the boys' school might be holding them back. I am happy to report that by KS 2 they have both more than caught up with their peers, and their innate ability, as opposed to a desire to work simply for for the sake of being dutiful, is beginning to show. Hopefully your son's teacher is a human being and can appreciate that not all children need to be doing HW aged 5 - and don't worry about your boy!
I would expect the only 'homework' in Reception to be reading to be honest. DS is in yr2 now and still only has reading and spellings once a week.
He is late summer baby and in Reception was too knackered after school to do anything much. We used to read after breakfast as that was the only time I could fit it in without him having a meltdown.
My DD is now in yr 2 but when she was in reception she had a ridiculous amount of homework. We had reading, spellings and maths each week and often an additional activity on top. As both my husband and I were working full time we ended up trying to do it all on the w/e or in the evenings after we got back from the childminder. Everyone was tired and not enjoying it at all. I spoke to the teachers who stated it was school policy and they couldn't change it. So I made an appointment with the head teacher and had a very frank discussion about the affect this was having on how DD was enjoying learning. In the end we agreed that we would focus on the reading and would only complete the other activities if time (and energy and enthusiasm) permitted. This really helped as it took the pressure off and meant that we enjoyed and engaged better with the activities we completed. DD is thriving now at school and most importantly she LOVES learning.
So in summary (after a rather long lead in) chill, relax and go back to loving reading and don't worry. The rest will fall into place over time.
My DS is yr 1. We have fallen back on
bribery incentives. Doing his reading book earns him an extra bedtime story. Doing his homework earns his screen time.
He doesn't get as much as your reception child though!
I also do a bit of counting with him during our walk to school, just counting to 30 and then back again (he is older than your ds), maybe counting in 2s, 5s (he is 6.6 so a fair bit older).
The only 'homework' ds has in reception is reading. We have also had a couple of numeracy activities (only 3 since sept) but the teacher has stressed that these are entirely optional, should be 'fun', and free from pressure.
I love ds's school
I wouldn't turn it into a battle at all, though I know it's difficult. Plenty of time for this, he's so young. I'd try and find creative ways to make his learning fun, my ds is open to short bursts of obvious learning activities (5 mins) in the car or just before bed.
My DS is in Reception and he does not get any homework apart from a reading book which we read (=he reads) on our own pace. We get a new book 2-3 times a week. By the way, the school is an outstanding primary with excellent results.
There shouldn't be a compulsory homework and surely you will not achieve anything through a battle. My DS likes being silly (knows the word but deliberately will say another word) so we do like 5 mins "learning" at a time. Anything longer - he loses his focus. I suggest short and fun if possible.
The fact that anyone thinks Homework in reception is necessary is so very sad. Wtf is the rush?
Ds is also in YR at a very lovely infant school and is sent away with the daily directive from his teacher to "Go home and tell your mummies and daddies what you learned today..." He tells us loads and he's learning so much...none of which has anything to do with daily spellings and handwriting. Most importantly he is learning to loce school, which will make all the difference when the time is right to tackle the other stuff.
Thanks again, everyone.
Last night we read half his reading book each (because he got a bit fed up and teary half-way through) and then left it for the rest of the afternoon. May try some numbers today, but I am back to feeling more relaxed about it again.
And I am working on my mental recycle-bin, elibean! I can see academic snobbery and competitiveness in my family (and amongst certain friends) being an ongoing problem, so need to start building up my defences. He's a lovely, lovely boy, and all I want is for that to continue and for him to thrive at school.
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