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Help needed to avoid battles over homework (DS in reception)

(36 Posts)
MrsMoriaty Sat 16-Mar-13 21:21:40

Please help.

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.


mooglet Wed 20-Mar-13 12:24:37

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.

Vagndidit Tue 19-Mar-13 10:12:41

That would be LOVE school...not loce blush

Vagndidit Tue 19-Mar-13 10:11:23

The fact that anyone thinks Homework in reception is necessary is so very sad. angry 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.

southnorwoodmum Tue 19-Mar-13 09:57:21

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.

Cat98 Tue 19-Mar-13 09:31:18

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 smile
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.

FullOfWoe Tue 19-Mar-13 06:44:11

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).

Princessdeb Mon 18-Mar-13 23:53:16

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.

RhinestoneCowgirl Mon 18-Mar-13 21:38:21

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.

Biscuitsneeded Mon 18-Mar-13 21:34:39

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!

Elibean Mon 18-Mar-13 12:19:53

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 smile

anqet Mon 18-Mar-13 10:32:33

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!)

DeWe Mon 18-Mar-13 09:59:15

Ds hates homework. He gets one piece a week though in year 1 (plus reading). And only reading in reception.

I vary as to how he does it. Often the best time for things like reading is in the car while waiting for his sisters to finish an activity. He doesn't have anything else to do, so it becomes much mroe desireable to do it.

If it's something he's interested in, I let him have his head. He can do what he likes within reason. He had one thing recently which interested him and he did a whole booklet rather than the one page. That's definitely the exception rather than the rule.

This week he's not interested. He had to do a comparison between two things. So I made some suggestions and printed (with him) out a table with pictures on either side to compare, and he then wrote the differences next to the pictures.

Other times he may write it on the computer, or cut out pictures from a magazine and stick them on.

If I can fiddle it round to be something that interests him, then I will do, even if it's changing the brief a bit.

I find having something good to do afterwards can help. Also if he hasn't done it by Friday then saying he'll miss out on something he wants to do at the weekend also helps.

MajaBiene Sun 17-Mar-13 22:07:54

I wouldn't do it, they spend enough time in school - home should be for relaxing/playing/family time.

EllieNW3 Sun 17-Mar-13 22:03:33

Whenever you/he feel ready for reading again why not to say that he can read a bit for you and you will then read a few books of his choice to him - so he will know that you are definitely not going to stop reading for him?

mooglet Sun 17-Mar-13 22:01:36

I must admit I was really surprised when he started bringing homework home - he seems very young to me, and I certainly would not be demanding it of the teachers. But then I have been surprised by the emphasis on phonics and numbers at pre-school too (which DS1 totally ignored, but DD loves). Sometimes wish we lived in Finland, or somewhere else where formal education begins later........

simpson Sun 17-Mar-13 21:58:15

DS in yr3 hardly gets any homework but DD in reception gets a lot...

simpson Sun 17-Mar-13 21:57:07

I am completely baffled as to why parents would demand homework for their DC and then not do it.

timtam23 Sun 17-Mar-13 21:50:00

My son is in reception & he gets a pack of reading books once a week (maybe 3 or 4 books - no pressure to read them with him & nobody checks) plus "homework" on a Friday which is linked to what they had been doing in class or will be doing next week. E.g. this week the task was to get some tins & packets out of the food cupboard and look at them and put them into groups of similar shapes (he will be doing 3D shapes next week & has done 2D shapes this week). mostly he is asked to do a picture of something with or without a few words. Again there is no pressure & no checking, he does it most weeks but has missed some.
The reading isn't always done but DH tends to read with him in the evenings so he usually has a go at reading at least 2 of the books, his teacher is happy with his reading in class which is the main thing. I wouldn't put pressure on him about homework etc as it does get much worse as school goes on - a neighbour's son is in yr 6 and gets loads of homework, more than once a week!

mrz Sun 17-Mar-13 21:40:25

I don't think these parents look at what is sent home learnandsay

learnandsay Sun 17-Mar-13 21:38:11

I don't know if any parents are doing this but I can imagine how a parent could use homework as a rough guide to what her child is learning in school and therefore she might not care whether or not the teacher is marking it, all she cares about is a regular supply of it.

mrz Sun 17-Mar-13 21:37:16

Interestingly the ones who shouted loudest for homework are the same ones who rarely complete it hmm

mrz Sun 17-Mar-13 21:35:00

Why do teachers give out homework hmm in my case it's because parents demanded it. I'd be happy if they read to their child.

learnandsay Sun 17-Mar-13 21:24:16

Perhaps as the children get older the teachers get more bothered whether or not the homework gets done. But I've seen lots of comments about homework being done and being ignored by the teacher. If it's going to be ignored I can see no reason for giving it out.

plainjayne123 Sun 17-Mar-13 21:20:38

Our school doesn't do homework in reception or reading books, just tells patents to read to children. No homework in yr 1 either and 10 mins a week in yr2. It is a good school and gets good results. It doesn't mean I don't do things at home with them though. I know what they should be aiming for and I try to make sure they are on top of everything and enjoy learning.

mooglet Sun 17-Mar-13 20:07:58

Thank you for all your wise words. It's all stuff I know really (without wanting to seem ungrateful!), but I think I have just lost sight of it a bit in recent weeks. I'll blame the hormones and lack of red wine......

He loves being read to and having me make up stories for him, so we certainly do plenty of that. He has said in the past that he doesn't want to learn to read because then I might not read to him anymore, although I have told him time and time again that I will read to him as long as he wants, because it's something we both love. And, despite finding it really difficult to remember the order of numbers or to recognise them, he did a fine job of sharing out the sweeties after tea tonight, so maths is obviously ok too.

And we do play lots too - reading my post again, I sound like a dragon who only cares about homework!

So, as of tomorrow, we are going back to being relaxed about homework, and I will refer back to this thread whenever I need reminding of this!

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