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How can I take the work out of homework?

(22 Posts)
superoz Sun 22-May-16 23:29:41

I usually find it takes a lot of effort to get dd - currently in Year 3 to do her homework. It doesn't matter if it's maths, writing, reading, making a paper model, painting etc, even though I will sit down and do it with her she will come up with any number of distractions to avoid doing it.
Tonight we had a lengthy chat and she said that because it's "homework" it feels like a chore to her and so she doesn't want to do it. I have noticed that this applies to everything, even activities she enjoys. For example, she loves reading and read 2 books from the local library today. But she will complain about every book she gets in class for guided reading. Even ones from the school library are ok, but because she has to read her class book it instantly becomes unappealing.

She also mentioned that she doesn't usually get praised for her work; but we do, and the other week her teacher awarded her homework of the week! But when I delved a little deeper it was because none of her friends had said anything nice about her homework hmm. Maybe it's the age she's at (aged 8).

So what can I do to make homework more enticing, less boring and remove this mental barrier? Give it a different name? Reward chart? She has an art project this week which is meant to be fun and even I'm losing enthusiasm if she doesn't want to do it!

irvineoneohone Mon 23-May-16 08:28:05

My ds is in yr3, and he gets minimal homework. So, most of times, it's ok. But if he gets something he isn't interested, he will leave it till last minutes and have meltdown.
If I don't remind him, he will have another meltdown before school, so I do remind him and we end up in unpleasant situation. In the end, I always say to him, it's up to him, if he doesn't want to do it, it's fine, and leave him to it. He finally reluctantly does it, and when it's finished, he is always happy that he done it. It really makes me sick of all the hassle.
But I think it's a good thing that he believes homework is something he has to do, and hand in on time, since secondary school is not so far away.
I would like to know if there is a way to take the work out of homework as well!

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 23-May-16 08:38:32

I took the stance of 'it's your homework if you don't do you live with the consequences at school'. I didn't get involved in the hand wringing just left it up to DD.

LizzieMacQueen Mon 23-May-16 08:44:52

I found the bribery of a small bag of sweets helped.

I know if I'm working on a mental task, sucking a few sweets helps me. Apply the same to them.

oktimetodoit Mon 23-May-16 09:53:47

Lonecat After years of battling with our ds over homework (I swear it took over every day that it was sent..sometimes whole weekends for something that would take 10 mins) we tried that which swiftly turned into us being unsupportive parents confused. Ds believes home is home, school is school and never the twain shall meet! grin

Try the rewards OP at least then at home your dd will feel her hard work is valued regardless of who else isn't impressed. We extend ds's computer time by 10 mins which helps sometimes but not always.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 23-May-16 13:24:08

Ok I discussed it with school pointed out that as a single parent I was not prepared to spend time fighting, that I would support detentions for incomplete homework. I was surprised school signed up to this we both stuck to the this is 'your homework'. We started in year 3 I had to remind the teachers each year of the agreement. Now in year 7 never actually had a detention as home work gets completed. I think certain schools are more supportive of this approach.

ComaToes Mon 23-May-16 13:28:57

I find having a set time helps, so no arguments about when it should be done. I also make sure that anything fun happens after homework, so no trips to the playground etc until it's done. And I don't correct or interfere, as I'm always wrong and it results in a shrieking fit. I do help with things like spelling if specifically asked, or if they don't understand the question or need help finding the right materials for the task, but nothing beyond that.

AlwaysDancing1234 Mon 23-May-16 13:38:14

We have had nightmares with DS over homework (he's now in Year 4) previously so I understand how you feel!

I sat down with DS a few weeks ago and said I'll help him and remind him to do homework but I won't nag.

So it's his responsibility and if he doesn't want to do it he can explain to teacher why not. He can then lose golden time/playtime.

I also do the same as a PP and ask him to sit down and do it on a weekend morning before we go off to clubs/park/wherever.
Also keep it in short 20 minute bursts.
Buying him a nice new set of pencils and felt pens etc and setting up a clear quiet area to work helped also.

FarAwayHills Mon 23-May-16 17:51:20

And I don't correct or interfere, as I'm always wrong and it results in a shrieking fit

Lots of shrieking fits here with homework. DD asks for my help and no matter how I respond it's wrong and results in tears and hissy fits. Definitely the most stressful part of the week right now.

attheendoftheday Tue 24-May-16 01:08:41

My dc are a bit younger, bit we play a lot of games to get dd1 to do homework. To learn mental maths we play a game where she has to see how many sums she can do while standing on her head, or for spellings I sprinkle letters from bananagrams around the room and she flies about (being a spelling fairy) collecting the words. For homework sheets we do a race where she does them quickly to surprise me or dp.

It doesn't always work but it has generally made things more bare able.

PatriciaHolm Tue 24-May-16 10:03:01

We used to get lots of the shrieking too, but DD (11.5) seems to have finally grown out of it! Plus I've moved toward the "it's yours and you need to explain why you haven't done it"model as she's got older.

DS is a real mixed bag still though at 10. Anything involving writing is often still met with whining and wailing.

ComaToes Tue 24-May-16 18:33:57

On the shrieking, I calmly suggest they write a note to their teacher explaining what the problem is, so that they can explain it 'the school way' to them next week. And leave the room if they carry on making a noise. I do sympathise with them - I remember crying over homework - but I think it's important that the work is all theirs (not mine) and that they get used to having a go and then asking for help if they really can't do it.

Obeliskherder Tue 24-May-16 22:53:39

Timeslots and bribery.

Mine have their own planners in which they've picked weekly timeslots for spellings, reading, music practice etc. Then I'm not enforcing my plan, but theirs. Getting DS to read is pure bribery - get school reading out of the way and we'll make time for his choices of books, or tv or whatever.

We also have apps for spellings and times tables, where the child earns points which can be "spent" on a game.

Projects have always been a bit of a battleground though. We go light touch on them these days.

superoz Sun 29-May-16 00:10:32

Thanks for all the replies, it's really interesting to hear of all the different experiences people have had and I can identify with many.
It also doesn't help that my 2 year old is always trying to interfere with her sister's homework time so often we try to do it after she's gone to sleep which isn't the best time.
I will try the reward route, she is feeling a little insecure about other things at school so could do with a confidence boost. We do have a timetable but getting her to choose her own time slots as you've suggested Obeliskherder might do the trick.

Obeliskherder Sun 29-May-16 09:59:22

Thanks for coming back OP.

Seeing your OP again, if it's all about approval from teachers/you/her friends, maybe try to build up her sense of pride in her own work. Ideally she'd be doing a decent job for her own satisfaction. Phrases like "wow, I bet you're really proud of yourself" and "look at that - aren't you glad you worked so hard at it?" which all sounds so trite written down blush

I remember the difficulty of having a 2 year old around homework, and I don't envy you. No toy, or even tv, is ever as interesting as big sister's homework. Ours are close in age so we ended up giving toddler something similar to do, and saving just the reading until bedtime. Is toddler old enough for a "my first letters" type workbook or cbeebies magazine or something? Or if you have a partner it would be well worth one of you taking toddler out, maybe on a weekend morning.

HeynowHannah Tue 31-May-16 00:49:33

Does she display this sort of behaviour in class? Perhaps ask her teacher what their approach is.
Personally I adopt a non-negotiable line on homework. Combining with a no fear of failure and praise when due, has always worked for me.

TheLastOneStanding Sat 04-Jun-16 22:49:53

I fucking hate homework for primary age children. I think they should be out in the garden playing ffs. But I want to support the school and feel kind of obliged to ensure I encourage DCs to do the sodding stuff. But I refuse to have it taking up weekend time. Or making mornings a rush. So I just want the horrid stuff done and forgotten about.

They get it on a Weds to be handed in on the Monday. So, without fail (OK, maybe the odd time for a play-date/birthday party) we do homework on a Wednesday after school. In the cafe before Gymnastics for a while. Or mostly as soon as we are in the door after school

Get home
Homework out
They choose the where (kitchen table/breakfast bar) whilst I prepare milk and a cookie (not just a custard cream from the biscuit tin but something from the bakery section/posh packet of biscuits iyswim)
Milk and cookies enjoyed whilst homework done.
We tackle it for the suggested amount of minutes (ie school suggests Yr3 should take 30-40 mins max, Yr5 an 45-50mins max). If not finished as is too much then we stop. I support a bit but try not to do too much as I want it to be their work - if it is too difficult/bad instructions the results will show that.
As soon as finished lots of praise and off they can go.

That is not to say I do not get the wailing and huffing to a degree - but the bribery helps minimise this. The doing it on Wednesday as soon as they get it also helps stop the procrastinating. I will not let them do it later/tomorrow/at the weekend. "It is Wednesday - homework day". And repeat. TV, the garden, ipads not allowed until done.

Then lots of praise about having done it -"Wow doesn't it feel good to have finished it" and "Isn't it great not to have it hanging over you at the weekend".

I have to say <smug mode> it does work. So far. It gets done. It goes away. We never have to think about homework over the weekend. I am hoping it will instil enough good habits for when they are at secondary. Or it may come back and bite me hugely on the bum and without me bribing/directing them to the kitchen table it will not happen independently. But I think I will deal with that when it comes.

So, that was a long winded way of saying Milk and Cookies.

HeynowHannah Sat 04-Jun-16 23:54:09

Lastone, I think this is the wrong attitude to have with primary homework.
Firstly, do you think your personal attitude to the homework could be sensed by your child? Also I think getting children used to the idea of homework early is good practise for secondary school.

TheLastOneStanding Sun 05-Jun-16 00:14:40

Why is it the wrong attitude to have? I can surely have any attitude/belief I like about the value of young children doing school work out of school? There is so much pressure on children these days I think they should be allowed to just be children once the school day is finished. Why is that so wrong? Really? FFS.

And no - of course I do not let my DCs know I think it is wrong.

And there are 2 reasons I make/encourage/bribe them to do it and adopt a non-negotiable line on homework just like you do. I support the homework which is set (even if I don't like it) because:
1) I believe children should see parents support the school. Children should see/believe that the parents trust the teachers and abide by the teachers reasonable requests (behaviour, stuff to bring in, and yes, goddammit homework). Obviously it is not just blind support for the school - you step in if things are going awry - poor teaching/bullying not dealt with/other issues, but we have not had this - and would deal with any issues privately with the school and, as much as possible, back the school in front of the children.

2) Homework which is set needs to be done. Not that I think it is educationally important at 7 and 9 - but because - as you say, it can be a good way to start good homework habits. though surely they could start to learn them in Y5/6 and not in bloody Y1.

My DC do their homework on the day it is set. They do it. Not me. They are given a suitable place, atmosphere and support to do it. They whine a bit - but minimally (DS at 7yo more so than his sister). They hand it in. They get praise for doing it. They get stickers for good achievements/effort from their teacher. I am struggling to see why you feel my attitude is wrong?

KingLooieCatz Sun 05-Jun-16 08:58:18

We try to do it before he's tried, however we don't have a younger one trying to join/distract etc. But DS is a handful at the best of times.

This may not great parenting but when it's becoming a slog a bag of sweets comes out, usually one he was given by someone else, then it went in the cupboard and was forgotten about, we are not sweet buyers generally. But the key thing is they are his sweets. He gets one sweet for every couple of sums/line of spellings etc. If he acts daft or shrieks, I have one of his sweets. I feel much more relaxed about the shrieking! Which probably helps. And it is remarkable how he gets his emotions under control when I start eating his sweeties.

Also I set a timer. He has e.g. half an hour, if it's not done by then, that's the end of it, I'm not spending the evening rowing and delaying bedtime. If it's done in time we have more time for something fun. I don't think we've ever run out of time (or if he was nearly there and trying I'd allow another couple of minutes).

HeynowHannah Sun 05-Jun-16 21:45:20

Sorry Lastone, we'll have to agree to disagree. I do feel homework is educationally important at 7-9 ( and earlier). I see learning as a linear journey, day by day learning new things and building on prior knowledge. On that basis the core/ key skills that early primary gives are the most important. I feel homework is more than slogging through the questions/task set once a week. I do homework with my youngest almost daily. How else will he learn his tables and number bonds and spellings without continuous practise? The earlier you start the further you can go.

citychick Tue 07-Jun-16 04:37:47

thelastone andheynow I can see what you both mean.
I have a yr 5 ds and up until yr5 we had our struggles too. The leap from year 4 homework to year 5 homework has been huge. We moved schools (abroad) and the new school dishes out quite a bit of homework.

I do agree that our Dc's should be running around outside after a day in the classroom, but unfortunately for our children, life is not as easy on the school front as perhaps it once was. There seems to be so much stuff to get thru by the end of each school year.

We also use a timer, a bit of bribery, but also, DS loves to look thru his books and show us what he has done. The discipline of homework is a good thing. It's not uncommon for kids to want to avoid homework.

Do ask the teacher what she suggests. Google it, find some strategies that might help.

Is there a homework diary? Ds has to write down his homework each day and the teacher also puts it on the school website so we can cross check.
Ds finds it satisfying ticking off each subject as he finishes it.

I also like the idea of sucking on a sweet. I am going to try that!

Good luck.

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