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What do you wish you'd done with your kid since Yr7/ what went right?

(46 Posts)
shortwriter Sat 01-Apr-17 15:03:27

I'm a secondary teacher and have a child about to start Yr7. Her dad and I were both bright, but lazy at secondary school, and although DD is better than either of us were, she still shows tendencies to do the least possible amount of work to skate by.

I see my students, a full range from extremely hard working to lazy as hell, very bright to struggling, and without doubt those who have support at home have better outcomes at Yr11 than those in the same situation but without support.

I'm wondering what good habits I can start with DD right from the beginning of Yr7 that will mean she has the best chance possible.

What did you do that worked well? What do you wish you had done?
I'm considering buying her textbooks to keep at home for key subjects that she struggles in (Maths) and asking her to tell me each week what she's been doing and spending a bit of time on it with her, but maybe that's unrealistic.

All tips appreciated, thanks.

exLtEveDallas Sat 01-Apr-17 15:11:57

Homework done on the day it is set.

A large planner marked with the day a homework is set and the day a homework is due in - check it every morning.

I sit with DD when she does her homework - she asks me to. It's a PITA at times when I've got something else I'd rather do (like anything else!) but it does mean she can ask me questions there and then.

A thesaurus has been a godsend for English, History and RS work, and has expanded her vocabulary exponentially grin

Letting her get stressed and to wail and whine at times without comment - I do think they need to 'let it all out'

Little 'prizes' for doing well - her fave sweet or a sleepover, that kind of thing. I don't think teachers have much time for back slapping and sometimes the kids really need it.

Look stuff up yourself. I'm amazed at how interesting I'm finding some of her topics (currently flooding in Cockermouth) and it gives us something to talk about and gives her better understanding.

Mary21 Sat 01-Apr-17 15:21:31

I would have tried to do more to facilitate friends in year 7, allowed ds to pick whatever he wanted to eat at linchpin time feather than being anal about healthy eating. Breakfast and evening meal are healthy.
Also I would have taken the homework approach advocated in "get out of my life but first take me and Alex into town"
Homework was a pain in year 7. They would have some. Get into a nice homework routine. Then they wouldn't and when more came we had to start all over again with routines

shortwriter Sat 01-Apr-17 15:53:37

Thank you both, some good ideas which I have noted. Just ordered a thesaurus.
I do quite a bit to facilitate friendships but will bear that in mind too.

PiqueABoo Sat 01-Apr-17 16:27:14

Y9 DD here.

Cut off the Internet, refused to buy her a smart-phone and tablet.

Kept up more with the parental reading recommendations because that went from wide ranging and sometimes challenging, to pure dystopian stuff which is only a small improvement on love-sick vampires.

Applied more pressure around sport/exercise because that became 'uncool' very rapidly. This was because of the upstream culture with girls not wanting to look flushed or having messy hair etc. Fitting in to big-school means surrrendering to a lot of that.

DD worked out the homework regime by herself and that has been a joy. There is occasional stress because too much turns up at once etc., but she mostly does that at the earliest opportunity and 'plays' afterwards which makes home-life fairly relaxed.

Cut off the Internet, refused to buy her a smart-phone and tablet. Yes I'm repeating myself, but you should need to keep an eye on that. DD is one of the better ones in this respect, but quite a few have lost themselves to live full of SnapChat streaks and bitching about each other etc.

BeyondThePage Sat 01-Apr-17 16:37:06

Mine have been good at studying, both reasonably clever top set performers. (DD14 and 16)

We have encouraged balance really. They study a lot at school, have homework and push themselves. So we encourage some other activities - swimming, air cadets, piano, etc to keep them broad based and not just academic. Also keeps them off social media/you tube for a bit.

Also have a "reference section" alongside classics in the bookcase at home. Letts guides, thesaurus, dictionary for English and German. DD16 doing Art at GCSE - so we have a load of art materials. DD14 interested in computing so we have a Raspberry Pi and coding books.

Showing interest in their work/listening/asking questions is good too - BUT it soon wears thin when with multiple kids, you have the same breakdown of Frankenstein and Macbeth being said 2 years in a row... and you have to feign "oh, that is a clever interpretation" the second time... blush

lottachocca Sat 01-Apr-17 17:21:55

I bought my kids a large plastic container and that is where all their school stuff goes....that has worked!
I did not get involved in their organising, from day one I let them screw up and get detentions - they got organised!
I reinforced the concept of doing work they were proud of - doing your best is too easy to fake.
I told them every exam success was for them not me, I would not reward them for good results - they should feel proud of themselves, because they will reap the rewards in the future. Education is a privilege - make use of it, don't waste it.
Ds initially did his homework in the kitchen - but we convinced him that working in his room would mean he'd get it done quicker and it did!
We set a goal for the year - getting more involved in clubs or sport, contributing in class.
All subjects are important - they all have something to teach you, all have something to add to your portfolio of skills and when you put effort in you enjoy a subject so much more.
I'm pleased with the effort they put in, they are very motivated and I am told they are a pleasure to teach. We celebrate the end of each term with an outing - but that is not dependent on their reports/results.

I wish I'd encouraged them to do more sport.

troutsprout Sat 01-Apr-17 17:39:07

Encouraged them to join/ keep going to outside school activities (scouts/ music /sports etc) where they are mixing with people NOT from their school.

Let them forget things/make mistakes (and get the punishments) in year7or 8 and don't remind them/ check things for them so much.

Encourage good computer skills at home ( rather than tablet/ phone skills)

Aside from that .. lifeskills big time :
Make them more confident to make their own way somewhere/ walk or use public transport
Likewise food shopping/ cooking / banking

BeyondThePage Sat 01-Apr-17 17:40:12

We have a couple of storage box footstools - one for each of them - ALL SCHOOL BOOKS go in there - ALL OF THEM - then if I get "where's my...." - in the box is the answer.

It goes from box to bag, bag to box, box to studying, studying back to box, if it is left lying around THEY get to find it, not me - because IT SHOULD BE IN THE BOX...

Also encouraged them to make a note in their planner if they handed their book in for homework to be marked etc. That way they knew if they SHOULD have the book or not.

Planners are fab. Our school provides them. Encourage proper and full use. Encourage them to write in the day when they get homework AND on the day it is due - and on any weekends in between as a reminder that they need to be working on it if a long project.

RedSkyAtNight Sat 01-Apr-17 17:41:48

I think they need to find their own way and not have you controlling every aspect of it. I'd like DS to do his homework on the day it's set at particular times, but actually it's worked much better for him to individually think about how much homework he has, how long it will take and what else he has on.

Don't assume your child will learn in the same way that you do.

Set aside specific 1:1 time where you do something together - it's amazing how much comes out when you are doing other things that normally they clam up about.

Ensure your child knows you are there if they need you, but don't be too much in their face.

Encourage them to make the most of opportunities they have.

lottachocca Sat 01-Apr-17 17:54:13

Also encouraged them to make a note in their planner if they handed their book in for homework to be marked etc. That way they knew if they SHOULD have the book or not. I like this, we've had a few lost book panics.
Definitely allow them to fail in Year 7, my dcs both learned the art of revising and the dangers of not doing homework when you get it - if they don't learn how to work in Year 7, the stakes just keep getting higher every year.
But respect their way of working, one friend's son is a last minute worker - she couldn't stand him working like this and she forced him to do it her way - so they had lots of battles, life was pretty unpleasant - she had to back off - he still does everything last minute, the quality of work is has remained consistently high, he is getting good marks in tests and their relationship is back on track.

shortwriter Sat 01-Apr-17 20:56:54

Thanks for all these ideas, I am keeping a note of all of them.

Heifer Sat 01-Apr-17 23:03:49

Best thing I did for DD was to buy 5 matching magazine files and label then Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri. Put them in the front room. Photocopied her timetable (about 4 copies). Stuck 1 up in her bedroom, 1 in the playroom, 1 in front room above the magazine files and she had 1 spare in her bag. Every day when DD empties her school bag she put the book into the correct magazine folder for next time she needs it (or when she has finished her homework)
Every morning she takes all the books out of that particular days magazine file and puts into her school bag.
She doesn't ever leave any books anywhere else in the house, not even in her bedroom, that way she knows that the books will always be in the files and therefore takes 2 seconds to pack her school bag each morning. She has never forgotten to take a book to school (yet) and is Yr 8. Got that idea from here and has worked a treat.

LynetteScavo Sat 01-Apr-17 23:59:20

In Y7 & 8 I get really involved with their home work. Other people think I'm doing it for them, but I'm not. We're learning together. I'm surprised how weak my DCs googling skills are in Y7, and I have to show them how to research online. The project homework they get is very different from sats papers practice of Y6.
In Y9 I step back and let them do it themselves as by then they have the skills to do it independently. In y10/11 I will make sure they have what they need to learn how to revise.

JustRichmal Sun 02-Apr-17 08:27:53

Term 1 of year 7 is the most tiring term; meeting and making new friends, learning to fit in to secondary school. So plenty of rest and being listened to. The only advice I can remember giving dd in the first few days was to make sure no one was getting left out of their initial social mix.

I agree with joining groups outside school to mix with others.

Also I have a dd who does not like PE, so I let her pick a sport she does like for outside school hours.

You mention your dd struggles with maths. You could try Khan Academy or the CPG or Letts revision guides. Little and often is key. Also in year 7 the mornings are when children are most awake, so 10 mins before school or at weekends will be a lot easier than 10 mins after school. As they become teenagers, their sleep patterns alter and they become less awake in the mornings and more awake in the afternoons.

I think you are right with parental interest being key to their success. I find I am letting dd do more of her own planning and getting on with homework as the years progress. I think though everyone goes through those Sunday evenings when there are 3 pieces of homework their child has mysteriously only just remembered.

I think the best thing I did was just set up the unspoken rule that I expected dd to work and study and for her to be interested in what she is learning. So many, particularly girls, have been denied education in the past, it is something that has been fought for and she should appreciate.

shortwriter Sun 02-Apr-17 08:47:52

Thanks, I love the magazine file idea and several others. This is exactly what I was after, much appreciated.

mummytime Sun 02-Apr-17 09:20:31

My tips are:
Don't be too much on her back about homework. Let her fail especially early on, but be there for help. And do ensure there is space and time for her to do it (and allow flexibility, is getting up early better).
If she is struggling with Maths, then get a good tutor.
Show interest and encourage, but in a relaxed way.

senua Sun 02-Apr-17 09:33:35

I'm wondering what good habits I can start with DD right from the beginning of Yr7

I told the DC that they only have one chance to make a first impression. Get off to a flying start. If you appear good then you will be put in top sets - it's much easier to stay there than to try to earn your way in later.

SaltyMyDear Sun 02-Apr-17 09:40:34

Don't help them too much!

They can't take responsibility for their life / homework / exam grades if you have responsibility for it.

So, it needs to be them who are choosing to do hw / revision. Not you making them.

It's better if they learn this in Y7 then in Y10 or first year uni.

So you support them by talking to them. By being interested in their life. By driving them wherever they need to go. But not by making them do their work. Then they can learn to be responsible for their own life.

And big yes to them joining clubs outside school that they enjoy. Sport, scouts, music whatever. But something.

Brokenbiscuit Sun 02-Apr-17 10:10:36

Well, my dd is only in year 7 at the moment, so I'm reading with interest. However, we received her school report yesterday and it is absolutely glowing, so I reckon we are doing ok so far.

My approach is to take a very active interest but to leave dd in control of her school work. We talk about what she is doing a lot, and also about what she has to do, how she is going to organise herself. However, the responsibility for actually getting it done is entirely dd's.

She has settled into a very good routine of doing it as soon as she has the opportunity - she chooses to go to the after school homework club three times a week, so this gives her 6 hours of concentrated time to get it done each week, leaving her very little left to do at home. It's a revelation to me, as I was always a last minute merchant! We do talk about some of her homework tasks, and we have a very good collection of reference books at home. Fortunately, dd's primary school set a lot of homework that involved independent research, so she has already developed quite good internet search skills.

With regard to organisation, we have a box in the kitchen for school stuff, but dd hasn't really used it at secondary school - she prefers to carry everything in her bag at all times so that she knows she won't forget anything! Makes her bag very heavy for the long walk to school, but her teachers do say that she is always well prepared for class! PE kit is the only extra thing that she has to remember, but I make this her responsibility and she never forgets - generally, she leaves it in her school locker during the week and just brings it home for a wash at the weekends.

She uses her planner effectively, writing homework in the day it's given as well as making a note of when it's due. She also stuck a copy of her timetable in there, in case she lost the other one. We also have a spare copy at home.

She is very bright and does exceptionally well academically, but we have never rewarded good results. We do praise effort, persistence and hard work, but again, no rewards - I have always tried to teach dd that success is her own reward, and that better heard work now will pay off in the future. We might sometimes celebrate her success with a nice family meal or something though.

I agree that it's really important to facilitate friendships and to encourage activities outside of school. To gradually let them have more independence and develop new life skills. And to be there for them without being too much in their faces!

The only other thing I would add is that we have always emphasised to dd that we don't mind how well she does at anything, as long as we know that she has given it her absolute best. My favourite one of her reports yesterday was from her PE teacher - PE is the one subject that really doesn't come naturally to dd, but her teacher commented that her attitude and commitment to the subject was outstanding. That made me very proud, and dd knows it. You can't be good at everything, but you can always try your absolute best!

pho3be Sun 02-Apr-17 10:11:03

Timetable printed out big & stuck up on wall

Magazine holders, one for exercise books, one for text books & one for random sheets/homework (makes bag packing much easier)

Bag packed night before

Uniform laid out night before (includibg blazer with bus pass, cash & keys in pocket)

Spare stationery (or at least be prepared to run to staples for a protracter at 7pm!)

Stock up on Printer ink & paper

No phones upstairs. Homework hour every day 5-6pm even if no homework then reading (this has got him doing homework on the day its set rather than leave it till day before due which went wrong so many times) Also younger siblings have to read/play quietly during this time.

Label everything like pencil case, calculator etc

Supply of fresh socks in pe kit (get them putting used socks in a seperate pocket)

Try not to say no to any party invites! Think it's quite important they see new friends outside of school

pho3be Sun 02-Apr-17 10:16:33

Also had to drum into him importance of writing down homework clearly in his planner.
Random scrawled mess at 11am you are not going to remember at 6pm!!!
Think I'm lucky in that ds is pretty conscientious & fear of detention has got him pretty organised.
I disagree about the sets comment up thread, ds was put into set 2 of 5 for maths based on primary sats & he finds it challenging but not impossible, i dread to think how hard he'd find it in set 1. I trust the school to put him in the set that's right for him

lottachocca Sun 02-Apr-17 10:44:59

If it's a good school and your dc are doing well/struggling they should be moving sets around.
I bulk buy stationary through amazon - it's much cheaper than buying one pen at time. Clear plastic folders are bought in bulk too - very useful for keeping loose sheets of homework, letters home etc in good condition.
If your dc is struggling with Maths a good tutor (preferable on your child likes) is money well spent - but the dc has to be on board with this one.

iseenodust Mon 03-Apr-17 12:22:18

You will know they all have phones and they are great for many things. We have a no phone rule Mon-Wed evenings at home but DS can use it in the daytime to catch up with friends & check the online homework planner. It means those evenings he will just get on with homework, help with dinner, read a bit for pleasure etc.

I agree with try to keep a club outside school going so a wide base of friendships is cultivated. DS is sporty so we said try one club at school that isn't sporty. Again opens up wider friendship circle.

Let them 'fail'. DS is chronic for not showing workings in maths. Been told by numerous teachers. In the end he got a poor mark & comment in his report and the embarrassment of that in his supposedly best subject meant he pulled his socks up.

Autumnsky Mon 03-Apr-17 14:22:19

DS1 had a good secondary school experience. He is sort of bright and do work but not very hard person. The things we get right is the habit of doing homework on the day it is set. I didn't get involved in his learning side once he started secondary school, only discussed with him and agreed this rule and it works.

The regret we had is about the games on the phone, I belived too much of his self control on this, as DS1 generally spend his after school time in his bedroom, I didn't know he played a lot of games on the phone. It didn't affect his study though, as he always finish school work first, but his eyesight was dropped because of this. By the time I realised he played a lot, he has grown out of phone games.

So for DS2, I will apply some parent control on the phone and ipad, this is what I have learned.

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