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Year 7 shedloads of homework - wise Mumsnetters, how much is too much?

(53 Posts)
yumskimumski Mon 24-Sep-12 09:58:46

DS spends a whole day of each weekend doing his homework. I thought perhaps that it was because he is an inefficient dreamer - and actually that is part of the problem - but it's not just that. I'm making him do the homework during the week as and when it comes in, but there's still this shedload to do, issued on a Friday, by Monday. He's at a large, ambitious comprehensive, and he's in a high band which is pushed like hell. My friend's daughter, at a very well regarded private girl's school where the majority get As and A*s doesn't have any homework at all, at least not currently. Will doing all this homework achieve anything? What's it for? It's certainly put a spoke in the weekend and cut down on sporting and cultural activities - but aren't these just as important? Will it teach him time-management and generally force him to be efficient? In which case I can see some justification.

Ladymuck Mon 24-Sep-12 11:02:46

Presumably you can see what homework is being set? Is it actually consolidating/finishing off classwork, or is it lots and lots of posters (which can take anything from 10 minutes to several hours)? I am surprised that any school is managing to set 7 hours of homework on a Friday? Each lesson on Friday is giving an hour's homework?! Is it getting marked?

Ds1 is at a private school. He seems to have a longer school day than most of his friends at state schools which may in part be where the additional homework comes in? Though my understanding is that the additional hours are offset by longer holidays.

Are you able to talk to any Year 8 parents to see whether this level continues? It sometimes doesn't.

scaevola Mon 24-Sep-12 11:05:13

How long is the homework meant to take?

antshouse Mon 24-Sep-12 11:06:41

Does he have a homework timetable from school?

DD has two or three subjects timetabled each night which should take about half to three quarters of an hour each. She does stockpile a lot for the weekend though as she does a lot of after school clubs.

seeker Mon 24-Sep-12 11:09:25

Have you looked at the homework section of the website? At both my children's very different schools it says somewhere how long they are supposed to spend on each subject.

I would be a bit bothered at any individual piece of homework that took more than about 30 minutes or so in year 7, I think.

Do you do it with him- is he getting the loads of extra unnecessary work as well?

titchy Mon 24-Sep-12 11:09:42

Our comp expects an hour a night for homework. Sometime there will be less, sometimes more. But it should average out at two pieces of work each night, with the expectation that each should take around half an hour each.

Is he getting project-type stuff that they do over two weeks - ds has a couple of these and needs to plan so he does half an hour of the project one night, then half an hour later in the week. It's a very steep learning curve.....

MoreBeta Mon 24-Sep-12 11:10:14

DS has 1 hour a day in Yr 7 with probably another hour at weekend. Its a private school with reasonably good (Top 200 in league tables) academic standards.

A whole day sounds like your DS might be being inefficient. You need to sit down with him and go through it to help him organise his time better. Initially we found DS being quite inefficient - going into Yr 7 can be a big jump and some pupils struggle withh time management. We also found the same when he was preparing for end of year exams. He needed us to to help him organise a revision timetable. You really cannot just 'leave it to him' as he may just not know how to get started.

yumskimumski Mon 24-Sep-12 11:25:26

DS is definitely inefficient, and I am trying to help him with time-management, although not helping with the homework itself. In answer to various questions, this is not "project" type homework, it comprises discrete pieces of work and specifically homework, not left over from unfinished school work. It's true that he only has 4 periods of lessons on a Friday but the way the school works is to "post" homework up by subject on the school's website, and over the weekend he is working on homework which doesn't actually appear until Friday. So, although the workload is reasonable during the week - probably about half an hour per subject, with no more than two subjects a night, it builds up at the weekend, through no fault of DS. We do know a child in the year above, and apparently the workload does not decrease. So, does anyone think that this amount of homework achieves something? DS is a lovely dreamy boy with no time-management skills - if this amount of homework will equip him to deal with the requirements of living in the real world I will accept that there is a point to it. DH thinks its purpose is to break his will, "like the army" he says. Am hoping this is not the case.

swanthingafteranother Mon 24-Sep-12 11:26:52

we found this too last year. Homework literally took entire weekend.
He was trying to do homework to high standard, and quite often we didn't know how to research the topice or what level was expected. We had loads of posters, flyers, send a postcard from the Coliseum type homeworks which took ages to understand, and negotiate.

I'm afraid to say somewhere down the line his homework got sloppier, he got better at doing it himself, and we thought, sod it, we can't spend the entire weekend researching Beethoven from every angle grin

I do feel it was a bit too much, and I complained to the teachers at the end of the year, which was cowardly of me I admit. I still feel that the beginning of Yr 7 they should have the chance to meet up with friends, explore the topics without so much written "exercises". I wonder whether it is a sort of brutal induction/bootcamp to weed out the sheep from the goats. There may be some children who need that sort of punishing scedule to keep them motivated. Personally I think it was a sledgehammer to crack nut. COMPLAIN.

I would say that this year, there is less homework, but that may be because he is just approaching it with less trepidation/perfectionism.

swanthingafteranother Mon 24-Sep-12 11:31:41

x-post, but I think your DH is right. It is to break the will. Remember that bit i
n Scott Turow book where the lawyers have to work zillions of hours so they literally have no time to notice it is a dodgy law firm wink..

v impressed at the school having a website to set homework from though...ours sends son's intepretaton home scrawled in diary...

FWIW, I found that loads of parents and boys were cracking up under the homework but like the Emperor's New Clothes, everyone thought it was their own failings, until we suddenly realised there was a whole Homework Club for children who just couldn't do the homework sad As I say it was an initiation rite...angry

seeker Mon 24-Sep-12 11:36:14

I am horrified at th thought of a day's worth of homework being posted up on a Friday to be in for Monday.

Do you know any other year 7 parents you can chat to and ask whether theirs are having the same problem? If they are, I would get in touch with his form tutor or Head of year. I sounds as if somthing's going wrong somewhere.

sickandtiredofitall Mon 24-Sep-12 11:43:18

honestly think the only way to do it is for them to do it on the day it is given, my DD does this and it works well and leaves her weekends free. She has about 1 and 1/2 hours per evening now she is in year 9 but this is the way she has always done homework. Maybe try it and when he has a free weekend he might not think its so bad smile

yumskimumski Mon 24-Sep-12 11:57:52

Thanks for your replies, Seeker and Swanthing. Seeker, I don't know any other Year 7 parents -the days of the school gate are over, and the only other child from DS's primary is in Year 8, but I did get in touch with the form tutor who said that things would settle down. I'm sceptical, even more so when I hear Swanthing's experiences, which are so similar to mine.
Swanthing, you've summed up everything me and DH are thinking - thank you, because your words have given me the courage to go back to the form tutor.

swanthingafteranother Mon 24-Sep-12 12:09:16

Having said all that, there was an element to learning time management as many homeworks were set a week in advance, and it just happened that the weekend was a bit of a pile-up. However, there were still three pieces of work set on Friday for Monday, requiring evaluation, research (not just answering straightforward questions or learing information from a textbook) Over the last year, ds has learned to try and get some of the easier stuff out of the way before the weekend, even though it was tempting to have Friday evening off.
I think each subject teacher set a reasonable task, it is just that all the different subjects made it impossible to do any one task to a very high standard...So for example we got a fantastic reading list for history topic, including all sorts of interesting fiction related stuff...but ds1 just didn't have time to delve further, and tbh he didn't really want to...all that homework was just a box to be ticked in the end.

Which is sad, because you would have thought the school wanted to inspire them in the subjects not just skim the topics.

twoterrors Mon 24-Sep-12 12:13:08

This is too much I think (two older dc in high achieving school).

Two subjects a night of half an hour each sounds fine. Then at the weekend maybe three or four?

I would ask the school for a proper homework timetable: how many hws for each subject per week, how long, when due. It is great they are ambitious, but they need to have a proper system for pushing attainment up, not boot camp for families! I would give them a list of what he has been set and how long it takes, and also comb the website for what the policy is.

It sounds like his teachers are thinking "you have the whole weekend" and that is not acceptable - they are supposed to have a proper break.This is a long, cold, dark term......

I think it is hard for them to learn good time management when they are overwhelmed and exhausted, and anyway, I think very few 11 yos can work productively and sensibly on their own for a whole day I would also suggest sitting with him next weekend if you can, and seeing what is taking the time.

Good luck. Family life and relaxation are incredibly important, and will help your child do well in the future.

adeucalione Mon 24-Sep-12 13:20:09

The school will have a homework policy somewhere - if it's not on the website, ask you see a copy.

If they're adhering to it then you probably don't have a leg to stand on, but if they're not then you really do have grounds for complaint.

I would also be irritated at homework being posted on Friday and being due in on Monday - our school policy is to allow at least one week so that children with weekend commitments can do it mid-week, and children with evening commitments can do it on the weekend.

DC also do their homework on the day it is set, and this works well I think.

MoreBeta Mon 24-Sep-12 13:23:43

This is a problem with the school not your DS:

" It's true that he only has 4 periods of lessons on a Friday but the way the school works is to "post" homework up by subject on the school's website, and over the weekend he is working on homework which doesn't actually appear until Friday. So, although the workload is reasonable during the week - probably about half an hour per subject, with no more than two subjects a night, it builds up at the weekend, through no fault of DS."

Sounds like teachers are not getting work posted in time and lumping it all on Friday. You need to make the Head aware of this. This is not fair and actually bad teaching practice.

yumskimumski Mon 24-Sep-12 13:33:24

I do have a nagging feeling that, at least in part, it's my son's inefficiency and my inability to teach him to be efficient that is behind this, hence this post. I did sit with him on Sunday (can't be there on Fridays because am at work), but he rejected most of my ideas about planning his homework, and I didn't want to be too prescriptive if he thought he had a plan, so all I really did was sit next to him while he did his maths, mumbling "come on, come on" like a grumpy cheerleader, which kept him focused and stopped him gazing out of the window, but is ultimately depressing for both of us. Oh Gawd, I can hear the collective sighs of Mumsnetters at my inability to organize my child, and I am already hanging my head in shame. The thing is, can you teach someone to be efficient - and if so, how? Can you force them into it as a coping strategy by giving them huge amounts of work? Sounds like it worked for Swanthing's DS, although it's a tough way to learn.

yumskimumski Mon 24-Sep-12 13:48:48

Thanks MoreBeta and Adeucalione - will look into the homework policy

seeker Mon 24-Sep-12 13:55:06

Ok. This maths you were sitting with him for (no harm in that- they've only just started year 7!)

If he had got on with it and just done it, how long would it have taken?

How many actual pieces of work did he have to do at the weekend?

Sorry to sound forensic, but you do need to be armed with all the facts before you take this further.

twoterrors Mon 24-Sep-12 13:57:49

Grumpy cheerleader is excellent description - we have all (most?) been there, don't worry!

Personally, I'd try being a bit more prescriptive if it is taking him that long on his own - it could take him months of trial and error otherwise. Agree a rough plan for the weekend, with hw time set aside but some fun and activity to break it up.

But first I would get chapter and verse on how much he should have - it still sounds too much to me. I agree poor practice to be setting everything on a FRiday, but if he is doing an hour a night Mon-Thurs, surely there should not be that many left over anyway?

Relevant SMT person would want to know I think.

twoterrors Mon 24-Sep-12 14:04:37

Sorry, cross posted with seeker! I agree.

If it turns out work being timetabled for, say, a Monday is not being set till Friday, I would get onto school straight away. That is impossible - and impossible for you as a family to support him as you would wish to.

As a comparison, I think my year 7 got, say, 2 hw a week each for english and maths, 1 for each science, 2 short ones for each language, 1 each for each humanity, something like that. Taking 20-30 mins each, more if teachers got carried away with lovely creative things, but SMT did get on their cases then.

Can he work in the kitchen while you potter or something like that?

seeker Mon 24-Sep-12 14:17:08

Oh, and the timer is your friend.

yumskimumski Mon 24-Sep-12 14:22:04

Just looked at the website and the homework policy is approx 1.5 hours per subject per week. I think that overall, this is what he is getting, but a lot of it is only posted on the school intranet on a Friday so it does seem as if there is some kind of school organisational problem here. Seeker, the maths took him just under 2 hours (thanks to my cheerleading), so that's not too far off the policy, especially if I factor in that it's not his strongest subject. I think that it is the Friday pile-up, as some have suggested, that's the problem and that's what I will have to address when I speak to his tutor. Twoterrors, we have two boys and no sit-down area in the kitchen, sitting room occupied with younger brother, so DS1 condemned to work in his room if he's to get any peace! I do pop up there on a regular basis to ensure he's not drifted off into his dream-world!

JustGettingByMum Mon 24-Sep-12 14:28:40

MY DD is in Y7 of a high achieving comp. She has a homework timetable, and the school planner also gives the amount of homework per year group. In Y7 it is 35 minutes per week per subject, given as 2-3 pieces per night.

If it is taking significantly longer, (and I was sure that DD had worked on it for 40-45 minutes), then I would sign it and put a note to the subject teacher that this is how much she had been able to do in the prescribed time.

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