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Maths homework (far) too hard?

(13 Posts)
BeehavingBaby Sun 19-May-13 19:15:01

DD1 (7) is on the top table for reading in her Y2 class. Since they became free readers a few months ago, instead of guided reading they have 'level 3 booster maths' separately - DD says it is too hard and she can't do it and I can see that her weekly homework is really hard, taking over an hour to do with her, some questions remaining impossible for her. I don't do it, but have to suggest approaches, provide beads to do division etc, completely OTT levels of help to expect IMO. Despite this, she is losing confidence and saying that she hates maths now. TBH a lot of the questions are unnecessarily wordy and confusing to me, also 20p, 5p are referred to as a TWENTY and a FIVE which took her ages to get used to.

DH explained this to her teacher and apparently she said that they send home harder homework than they do in class as a 'introduction' to the topics ahead - that is bonkers right? I know for a fact, they always did the opposite with reading books.

I am going to speak to the teacher tomorrow but I suppose I am torn - so many people post on here that their DCs are not pushed, should I try harder to teach her myself? I am good at maths but no teacher! I can feel the grammar school area madness descending a little and imagining that she needs a tutor and all sorts (have actually tried maths factor last year but not keen after initially enjoying it). Also worried that getting taken out of the group will knock her confidence even more. Should I leave it?

mrz Sun 19-May-13 19:22:54

It sounds as if the teacher is expecting you to do the groundwork before practising in class whereas it should be the other way .

BeehavingBaby Sun 19-May-13 19:32:18

That's what I think, but seems odd that she would even consider it, maybe DD is the only one in the group struggling? Actually no idea who the maths teacher is, main teacher is lovely though, will have to have another word I suppose.

ClayDavis Sun 19-May-13 20:26:05

Do you know what sort of national curriculum level she was working at before? If I'm reading your OP right it sounds like they are giving booster maths sessions based on what reading group she's in, which is odd. It might be that she's just not ready to move onto the level 3 work.

BrokenBananaTantrum Sun 19-May-13 20:34:53

IMO homework should be set to re-enforce what a child has learned in class or to check understanding. The teacher should not be expecting you to introduce a topic at home before it is introduced in class. That is bonkers.

Also her reading level/ability will not necessarily give an indication of her maths level / ability so it seems very odd to be doing this.

I don't think you should leave it if you and your DD are unhappy. I know it must be hard managing a class of very varied ability but this is what teachers should be trained to do. I teach in a secondary school so don't know about primary teaching but - next week I am starting to teach computer programming to my Year 8's. There is no way I would send home work on this topic before I introduced it. Imagine if I set homework to write a computer program before I had taught them anything about it. It would be mad and get a load of complaints if I did.

BeehavingBaby Sun 19-May-13 20:55:51

Yep, seems like streaming based on reading ability. She was 2a in maths at her March parent's evening, that was the first time that levels had ever been mentioned to me. I feel like she needs to consolidate the infants' work TBH, will broach subject tomorrow, thank you for replies smile

PastSellByDate Sun 19-May-13 22:01:42


As a health warning, and as many here will confirm, I can be an old cynic about schools/ teachers.

So like many have said the situation is back to front - where learning occurs at home and as mrz (a teacher) has suggested - it is should be the other way around (homework consolodating work in class that is).

So cynical slant on this:

THEORY 1: teacher hates finding homemwork assignments (possibly doesn't believe in homework) & marking them so is intentionally making homework so long/ intollerable that the majority of parents would prefer to not have any homework and therefore it can be dropped.

THEORY 2: This is also a method used when you have too many in a top set (in schools where there are literally no more and no less than 5 tables (sets) and there tends to be 5-6 per table in classes of 30).

We have experienced #2 and have witnessed it in action with other children as well. Not very pleasant and really knocks the confidence of the children.

Others have posted on MN about the arbitrary 'cap' on top table numbers and/or number of tables. It's mad - but I suspect at our school at least, teachers actually teach to 5 tables rather than 30 individuals.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Sun 19-May-13 23:35:35

I also thought it was odd streaming maths based on reading ability. There is no way i would send home work that i hadn't already covered, mind you i am a bit obsessive about making sure they all have accurate input first and not a mix of methods from across the decades... Def needs raising if confidence being affected and i agree you need a solid base before moving on, the school will be keen to push onto l3 if dc at a 2a but maths confidence more important.

KingscoteStaff Mon 20-May-13 07:18:37

The TWENTY and FIVE make me think that this is a page from Schofield and Sims Mental Maths. Our school use this for homework as well.

If I am right, then part of the problem may be the density of the page - 30 close-typed questions with no space for working out.

However, if you read through the questions the maths content is reasonably simple. I have the Year three book here - an example question would be 5 TWOS = _ FIVES or How many FIVES are worth 20p?

To start with, how long should your DD be doing homework? Our Year 2s have 30 mins Maths, once a week. Check your school's website, or see if it's written in the front of her home book. When she gets to the end of that time, she should stop - you initial in the margin with '30 mins work' or however long it is.

Finally, I would find some beads or small lego bricks for calculating, as she may be used to using physical objects in class, and I would also put some play money out on the table where she's working.

redskyatnight Mon 20-May-13 08:33:59

DD's school streams maths and reading separately, but the "top table" readers are the same as the "top table" maths. I'm fairly sure that this was also the case when DS was in Y2. Of course, there can be children who are good at reading but not maths or vice versa, but maybe OP's DD is in a class like my DD?

I've found that homework builds on concepts taught in class - so they haven't explicitly covered it at school but the teacher is looking to see if they can apply the skills they've learned.

I wouldn't, however spend an hour on a Y2 child's homework. Depending on how long you get to do the homework do 1 or 2 sessions of 15-20 minutes and explain why you didn't get to the end.

ThreeBeeOneGee Mon 20-May-13 08:44:39

I have found that expectations in Maths seem to have risen just in the last few years. All three of my boys are/were in the same Maths set at junior school, so I have something to compare with.

The work that DS1 was doing in Y6 is the same that DS2 was doing in Y5 and DS3 is now doing in Y4! Even down to some of the same worksheets / worded problems. DS3 is of the same mathematical ability as DS1 was at that age, so differentiation of work is not the explanation.

BeehavingBaby Mon 20-May-13 19:16:59

Chat was great today, DD has been honest with them at school and her teacher had already planned time for some 1-2-1 work 2 afternoons this week. The teacher pointed out that it was the same questions every week that she couldn't do and that one problem is that the sheet level below she can do 100% correct in a few minutes so difficult to pitch it, encouraged 30mins independent work with props then leave it. I had it into my head that play money would be cheating!

PP is spot on about the layout of the sheets, they are a bit impenetrable to look at.

BeehavingBaby Mon 20-May-13 19:20:18

A typical question would be more like: 7 sweets are 4p each, how much change would you get from 2 TWENTIES? It's the swapping between ways of describing money that I think is a bit odd.

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