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Tell me how you organise your evenings AND support DCs with homework/extras please?!

(21 Posts)
getoffthesofa Tue 21-Feb-17 15:12:08

I feel like I am letting both kids down in terms of of supporting them with schooling. DD1 needs some help with Maths and French, and other things I suspect. I am WAH and therefore should have all this covered surely? Meal on table, homework expertise supplied, fun activity and lovely hair to boot. None of these things happen.

On a non-activity after school day it goes like this:
DD2 home at 3:30 - snacks and hanging out.
DD1 (age 13/yr 8) gets home at 4:45. Quick Snack and then homework 5 - 6:30. I start doing dinner at 5ish, we eat at 6:30. All done by 7.
7:30 into bath and bedtime routine for younger DD (who was mainly in front of the tv/on tablet till dinner).

Eldest DD has to do instrument practice, then bath/shower. She is usually done by 8. At which point issues with hw seem to emerge and it feels late to be making her start in on it all again. Bedtime is 9 and while she used to read for ages, she is spark out by 9:30 atm.

It's helpful writing it down - how the hell is it taking me 90 minutes to cook a meal for 4 and yet abandon both kids to homework or telly?! Also I wonder if a longer break when she gets home would help her concentrate more? So an hour of hw till dinner and then again supported time after 7.

OH usually home for supper by 6:30, so we could split duties more, I guess - but it feels like we are both flat out already. Argh.

Please don't reply with "just let her get on with it", I strongly believe in helping with homework, especially as a way of understanding how she is developing and if she is struggling. It's only going to get harder in the next few years - how do you fit it all in?

TeaBelle Tue 21-Feb-17 15:16:44

If she can't do it roughly 90 minutes then I would say that there's something amiss - either she's struggling far too much and the hw isn't appropriate for her, or she lacks the basic study skills to get it done efficiently. Could you spend 15 minutes at the start prioritising and pallning her time?

Also, meals that you can just whacknin the oven/slow cooker rather then those that need constant attention

Seeline Tue 21-Feb-17 15:18:42

My Y8 DD is often doing h/w until 9, and she is really good and gets on with stuff. That is usually on the nights she has had a 1hr dance class earlier in the evening.
I am WAH too. Both usually get in at about 4.30. DS (Y10 ) is a nightmare with homework. I do monitor him closely but it is still often 10pm before he has done what has to be done (ie due the next day)
I don't know what the answer is. I am always available to help if needed. They eat at about 7ish. DH and I later as DH doesn't get in until nearly 7.30 most nights. But that really disrupts the flow of work as I can't supervise whilst cooking our meal/eating it.

PatriciaHolm Tue 21-Feb-17 15:19:16

Does she really have 90 mins of homework a night? DD goes to a high achieving girls school and gets 3 hours a week, so about 40 minutes per week night, sometimes not even that. Do you think she is taking a longer time because she needs additional support?

I tend to hover in the kitchen whilst she does her homework at the kitchen table at the moment, so I'm there if she needs me but not if not.

What kind of meals are you cooking? Can you batch cook/slow cook/pressure cook to help save time?

WhatHaveIFound Tue 21-Feb-17 15:28:17

Do you have a table in the kitchen so that you can help her whilst you're cooking dinner? Does she get 90mins of homework every night? And do you need to sit with her to make sure it's done?

I think i'd start by cutting down your cooking time. I don't cook anything during the week that takes more than 40mins (including prep time).

My DC (Y10/Y7) get home from school around 5.30pm and start on homework pretty much straight away as they've normally had a snack in the car on the way home.

Dinner is at 7pm so if they have lots of homework they'll do more (plus music practice) after dinner before shower/bath & bed. Bedtime is 9/9.30pm.

I guess they fit it in by always doing homework as soon as they get it and not having much relaxation time (& no screen time) during the week.

Seeline Tue 21-Feb-17 15:33:29

Both my DCs are at selective indie schools. Both have always had much more homework than actually timetabled. Certainly Y8DD is timetabled between 1hr 10 to 2hr 30 each night, and most work takes a good deal longer than the 30ish minutes scheduled. And no, she is not struggling, wasting time, or anything else - it takes that long. so I can quite believe OP is in a similar situation.

T0nksTheCat Tue 21-Feb-17 15:37:43

My DD1 (age 14/y9) can spend a good couple of horus on homework each night if she's doing it well/taking pride. I find the amount that different schools set varies hugely.

That said study habits are an issue here as she seems to spend inordinate amounts of time consulting about various loosely-related points with her school friends via WhatsApp... but if that's how she wants to approach it, fair enough...

Sorry no magic formulas, just solidarity.

WhoKn0wsWhereTheTimeG0es Tue 21-Feb-17 15:41:54

We don't start till after dinner, unless DS (y8) is going to Scouts or football when it's half before, half after. He gets home at 5 and has downtime while I do chores and get dinner for 6-6.30ish, then table cleared and hw started. DH, DD and I all go out 2-3 nights each for activities too, so it is all a bit full on but it works better than trying to do it straight after school while cooking etc. I help him quite a bit, he has SNs and needs support with homework.

Peanutbutterrules Tue 21-Feb-17 15:42:34

DH gets home at 7, so we eat 7:15/7:30.

DD has 1.5 hours per night minimum. If she's putting extra effort in (like Art) it's more. She's dyslexic so while 1.5 per night is the schools plan, it often takes her longer.

She is home by 4:30 most nights. 15 minutes eating snack/decompressing. 5 minutes with me prioritising/finding out if she needs help.

Then she works for 45 minutes. Downstairs, cup of tea/tv for 15 minutes. Then back up to continue. Work/break cycle so she gets 2 pieces done before dinner, one after. If she needs help she comes to the kitchen while I'm cooking and we talk it through. Serious help is at the dining room table after dinner. If she needs help with one of the pieces she started before dinner, she puts it to one side, and starts another piece. By 8:30 she's done, bath, bed by 9:30.

If she has an activity (sport, drama) then we sort out what gets left til the weekend, what can be done is 'less time' then school wants but still be okay. We talk a lot about homework and agree strategies. It's all she really needs in most cases and I can do that while cooking.

We also split subjects - DH is in charge of languages, maths and physics. I'm history, English, Biology, Chemistry. If one is helping with homework the other is in charge of tidying kitchen after dinner, washing machine, general crap that needs doing. Until she is in bed we are both busy with stuff, then we get to relax in front of TV before collapsing.

Hamsters on wheels have an easier life!

getoffthesofa Tue 21-Feb-17 15:59:05

She isn't struggling overall and DD1 is good and tends to get on with it and is usually done in a hour or so I would say. Also it varies in volume - should be 2-3 subjects at 30 minutes each, but is often finishing off stuff or planning for next lesson, but it can also be a massive research activity, which really does need help to focus and find stuff (God forbid we use an actual
book ..the infinite options of the internet are not always useful), or revision for the whole half-term's topics. When I think about it I think there may have been a bit of last minute cramming going on and she has been able to wing it on that till now.

I think it's the study techniques she may be falling down on and I am not checking enough or helping guide her - good revision practice, speaking French etc and also supporting where she isn't confident - ie ensuring she understands the Maths. She has a tendency to draw a veil over bits she is worried about and without scrutiny it's hard to spot/pin down unless I am working through each question/activity with her.

I am going to try 15 minutes properly engaging with what she has to do and check properly and discuss when it's done (before it gets too late) - and not get put off with the "that's not how they do it at school muuuuuum". I think I have been focussing on her just getting through it all and "finished", which may not be the best approach.

As for meals don't have a slow cooker (I know they are the solution to everything!), but it's just the usual stuff, lasagne, lamb hot pot etc. I am meal planning now which saves a lot of time and faffing. I guess I also do a fair amount of housework in that time too. I need to research 40 minute meals!

Thanks for support, it helps just to lay it out to see where the time goes and to hear there others in the same boat.

Gooseygoosey12345 Tue 21-Feb-17 16:34:13

You could spend a few hours on a weekend morning bulk cooking everything and freezing portions for the week (or month if you're really organised). I always plan to do this but have yet to start, but it would make my life so much easier! Do you think a homework tutor could help?

Peanutbutterrules Tue 21-Feb-17 17:09:46

We have a slow cooker. It's useful sometimes but I find it creates the same type of meals iykwim.

WhatHaveIFound Tue 21-Feb-17 17:19:22

I don't have a slow cooker but i use the following...

BBC Good Food 20 minute recipes.

Delicious Magazine website Quick & Easy recipes

Jamie's 30 minute meals book

Rose Elliot's 30 Minute Vegetarian book

I'm not organised to do proper batch cooking but if i'm making curry/chilli/pasta sauce i generally double up the recipe so i can freeze portions for the following week.

yeOldeTrout Tue 21-Feb-17 17:20:54

Couldn't you help her with homework while cooking? I imagine you chopping & organising & talking her thru parts of what she's doing.

My teen DD also tries to revise from 9-10pm. I ended up shouting last week... she's trying hard to make it more like 7-9pm window, now.

getoffthesofa Tue 21-Feb-17 18:15:49

Oh god, thanks for all the recipe links - but there is a bit of a disconnect between what I can cook and what they will actually eat! Ahead of the game tonight as DH home early so he did Maths with her

I am going to observe patterns this week, collate data and erm produce a spreadsheet...? Or I could just make more effort to engage. I think things will get easier as evenings get longer too.

TeenAndTween Tue 21-Feb-17 19:49:55

What time are you up and about in the mornings? Could instrument practice be done before school?

user1475317873 Tue 21-Feb-17 21:11:23

No computers, tablets, mobiles or tv allowed at home during school days apart from Friday afternoon. Also 90 minutes for dinner is a long time during weekdays. There are lots of healthy meals you can prepare in 30minutes.

getoffthesofa Wed 22-Feb-17 08:30:31

TeenandTween (that's me too btw). We up at 6:30 & DD1 has to be out of the house by 7:15 so no time really to anything other than get dressed and breakfasted (and a row about hurrying up obvs).

For those saying do both (cook and support) - I find this really hard to do and DD gets frustrated at the interruptions, my lack of focus. It works sometimes, and perhaps I need to get more creative with how we do it - but it usually ends up with a late dinner and a hassle.

Yes 90 mins is ages to do a meal - I am trying to look at what I actually do in that period.

I do do double quantities and freeze when I can, but tend to use those meals when we are really pressed - ie on activity evenings.

Good also to see that the 60-90 mins of hw isn't unusual. Last night OH did her Maths wih her, but she whipped through it because it wasn't algebra! We had words about revision for Latin test tomorrow - she was absolutely not willing to let us test or help as she is doing well in that subject. How to convince her that rote learning the night before is survival, not learning?!

TeenAndTween Wed 22-Feb-17 09:56:31

That's a long day!

The only slack I can see is to lower your standards with respect to meals. I aim that most of the meals I do take 30mins or less in the kitchen.

e.g. pasta with bits, sausages done in oven with croquette potatoes in oven and veg on hob, pizza and b/beans, roast chicken and veg

The ones that need longer prep such as lasagne or chicken casserole get scheduled for days I know I'll have time.

FreeButtonBee Wed 22-Feb-17 10:11:33

Err, leave her to it. If she is a conscientious child, then get her set up at the start of the homework session and let her get on with it. If she messes up a test for lack of revision, well, she'll learn. I could understand this approach in the first year of secondary but half way through her second year, she should be pretty independent and coming to you with a problem she can't work out, not having you stand over her.

getoffthesofa Wed 22-Feb-17 10:23:13

It is a long day - hence wanting to look after and feed as much as possible! We were doing the quick meals when I was working out of the house, but they sort of descended into quick junky meals.

Err, FreeButtonBee, not standing over her and as I said in op not really interested in "leave her to it" as a response. Interested in engaging and supporting effectively. I still discuss my research issues with my Dad - doesn't mean I am not independent!

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