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How to motivate DS Yr 7 / Get him to work faster...

(13 Posts)
easylife73 Sat 01-Oct-11 08:02:35

Hi, not sure if this is the right place to post this, but desperate for some advice! DS1 (11) has just started in Yr7 at a grammar school. He is very easily distracted and struggles to work quickly. So far, he seems to be keeping up in class and is really enjoying it. However, I am really struggling to get him to complete his homework in a timely manner!

He is supposed to get about 1.5 hours a night, but it is taking him at least 4 hours. He is regularly going to bed at about 10pm, after working almost non-stop from when he gets home. I am constantly nagging him to get on with it, pointing out that he has no free time because he's spending so long over his homework. Some of it is unreasinable amounts being set (which I will mention at the upcoming parents evening) but most of it is apparent inability to keep concentration levels up. He is fine with subjects like maths, where he just needs to do various exercises, but a lot of the work seems to be to do with researching information, and he just can't seem to filter out the useful information from the page.

Sorry, this has turned into a long ramble, but if anyone has any ideas for how I can get him to work better/quicker I'd be very grateful!

kritur Sun 02-Oct-11 05:22:19

If that is the issue then what he needs to learn to do is read for purpose. It's quite a difficult skill as most children won't have done much at primary and it does take a good deal of concentration. With Y7 I tend to find the best thing to do is photocopy the page of the book that they need and then give them a couple of highlighter pens. They first highlight important words and then important phrases (if they do phrases first they tend to cover the whole page in highlighter!). So in the interim whilst he is gaining the maturity and skill to deal with the higher level research skills then it might be worth doing that, lots of printers also scan these days so you could scan and print the page he needs then he can't be distratced too much. There are lots of books on how to read for purpose but they tend to be aimed at older students.

easylife73 Sun 02-Oct-11 09:14:17

Thanks for replying Kritur...I've tried printing pages from Wikipedia etc for him to highlight the important bits, but like you say, the whole page ends up covered! I'll try asking him to pick out the important words instead of "anything interesting" instead, and maybe try to find time to practice with easier subjects than the ones he's actually being set by school. Although with the amount of time he's actually spending doing his homework, I'm not sure when we'll find the time. Yesterday he spent about 3 hours creating a poster for history, that was supposed to be William the Conqueror asking the Normans to help him invade England. When I finally offered to help him type the actual words into the Word document, he was able to tell me what he wanted to put in about 5 mintues, but then spent another hour formatting it and adding pictures. As soon as I leave him to get on with it everything grinds to a halt.

kritur Sun 02-Oct-11 11:39:10

Did the school give him a mark scheme? It's pretty common for Y7 to spend all their time making things look pretty rather than concentrating on the content! Wikipedia isn't the greatest for young ones because there are usually lots of words on the page and lots of it isn't relevent. Might be worth getting a few subject guides from somewhere like CGP just to help him, and if he's not on the computer he can't get distratced by turning the background into parchment or the title into a rainbow!

easylife73 Sun 02-Oct-11 16:23:16

I think the CGP guides might be helpful further down the line, but some of the research he's been asked to do isn't really subject relevant - for example, for French he's been asked to research Lille football club, a german football club for German and the Mars Rover for ICT! Can't see how researching a football club will help him to learn a language to be honest! Had no choice but to use the computer as we didn't have many books lying around the house for those particular subjects!

I hate to admit it, but I think my "help" is probably making things worse. He's spent a good tenm minutes crying this afternoon because he didn't know how to start his writing for English...write for 20 minutes about your most embarrassing moment. He wanted me to help him. I pointed out that his teacher doesn't want a piece of work partly written by me, she wants to know what he can write himself. She also won't probably care which sequence of words he finally chose to start it with, as long as he did start it and then carried on. Eventually he sat down and got on with it, after I refused to help him. I remember back in Priamry when they were first asked to make sentences out of their spelling words, we had a few weeks where he would scrfeam and cry for about half an hour before just getting on with it...it's almost like we have to break his spirit before he'll give in and do it.

Hathor Tue 04-Oct-11 15:20:07

You could be describing my DC exactly OP. Only thing that speeds up the process is the offer of watching TV if the homework is finished in time. Find that concentrates the mind a bit. Any other ideas to get speed up, especially in more open-ended homework tasks?

CrosswordAddict Tue 04-Oct-11 15:52:53

All this messing about is very exhausting - for him and for you. Try to just do what he needs to hand in next day. Keep back the long pieces for weekends.
Set the cooker clock for twenty minutes and then send in what he has done in that time (or thirty minutes if that is what is set)
Can't be good for a Year 7 to be working so late at night. School probably are not aware of this even. As long as the work comes in they don't ask how long it took wink You have my sympathy. Try to let school know politely what the score is.

angelinterceptor Tue 04-Oct-11 16:01:58

this is interesting, it completely sounds like my DS who has also just started at grammar school.
He just seems to stare at the page, or wont actually start the writing etc. Once he starts he is very easily distracted, and he seems to want me to sit beside him all the way.

He finds it difficult to start on the longer, project type homeworks and has no idea of how important it is to hand in work on time, neatly, clean and answering the actual question or topic.

Its wearing me out and has only been a month so far, plus he has sports 3 nights after school so we have less time available to get the work done.

Then my DD gets really jealous of the amount of time I am spending with DS, and starts playing up.

I normally leave work at 2.45 pm to pick up DD and get the homeworks done, plus some more of my own work until 5.30pm - but getting even less of my own work done with all the homework shenanigans

netherlee Tue 04-Oct-11 17:38:22

The reward strategy sounds good and is one I have used (and still do) with all my DC. I might for instance say they are not going to a friends birthday party unless they complete their homework (within reason for the time they have) or the xbox is staying off until all homework is done and their rooms are tidied etc.

If there are deeper reasons for your DS concentration then only you know. Subtle things like diets, routine, bedtimes, amount of reading/counting practise, bullying by pupils or teachers, I don't know so not for me to say. Do you know for sure there are no problems in school as I would initially be looking at differences in the two environments. Maybe it is plain tiredness by that time of day (totally reasonable).

easylife73 Tue 04-Oct-11 17:58:58

Thanks for all the replies...

Hathor - he doesn't watch much TV, but his art homework did get done a lot quicker after he'd missed the first half of the Simpsons last night!

CrosswordAddict - You're right it is exhausting for both of us, but I'm loathe to only do the things that are due in the following day, in case he gets so far behind he can't catch up! Also don't want him to think he can just leave things if he wants to. I'm definitely going to approach the school about it, but think I'll wait until the parent's evening later this month.

Angelinterceptor - I know exactly what you mean, I wonder whether it's partly a confidence thing and he needs constant reassurance in case he's doing it wrong? My younger son (8) is also getting jealous of the amount of time I'm spending with the eldest - I've had tears and him saying we don't love him etc sad Not helped by the fact the my OH works shifts, so it's quite often just me and the kids after school and at weekends. I'm hoping it will get better at some point!

Netherlee - I'm fairly sure there are no actual problems at school, I think the difference is they are moving at a faster pace anyway, and he is expected to keep up, rather than having to independantly manage his own time/workload.

noarguments Wed 05-Oct-11 13:07:08

Another DS in year 7 exactly the same - we had tears and tantrums last night again - what was a quick 10 minutes bit of homework took him at least an hour and a half. Again he wanted me to sit there and give him ideas - he just can't seem to work independently and is very low in confidence with his work. Yr7 transition is going really well otherwise but is really becoming an issue.
How it ended up was that I went away (in a huff, to be honest) and said it was due in tomorrow, you'll have to do something to give in, then go straight to bed (it was late) - I think he did do something, but I didn't see it.
I'm at the end of my tether too. I think routine probably plays a part - and not leaving it til after tea would also help. At the moment, its still light enough for them to want to go out with their friends before tea, but that will change soon, so hopefully we'll start homework earlier.

Hathor Wed 05-Oct-11 13:30:31

So, all these Y7 DC faffing about and getting stressed over homework and taking up all our time "handholding". What to do? It doesn't seem to be that the work is too hard for them, but they can't seem to work on their own and focus and deal with open-ended work. These are such important skills to learn. How to help them, without cracking up?

easylife73 Wed 05-Oct-11 16:55:45

Glad I'm not alone, although sorry others are suffering through it as well! We had a slightly better night last night as he only had maths homework, and that seemed to be just a few sums...it was like old times, lovely! Just waiting to see how he gets on tonight - two lots of English: one looking up alternative words in a thesaurus, and the other second-drafting the embarrassing story work.

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