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homework battles - we're both miserable

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I am not handling this properly. What can I do better?

Ok…I’ll start by saying it is not just homework. We have meltdowns, battles, etc. throughout the day - some sensory related, some not. (an attempt to explain my frustration) Homework is the one I have the most difficulty with.

Anyway, my children started first grade this year. There is homework. It is a daily battle to get my daughter to do the homework. (Before we go off on a tangent about young children and homework…I dislike these worksheets and prefer their previous Montessori school’s theory about homework. But they are now in a public charter school and the homework seems to be like a typical public school.) She cries, screams, scribbles on the page, and sometimes does it perfectly. I’ve tried allowing her to choose the time of day to do homework but that doesn’t work because she’ll wait until she is too tired to do it. Plus, during weekdays there is little time. They have a long school day and there is little time for play, dinner, and bath before bed. (another reason I believe much homework should not be necessary.) They also had extra this weekend since they were sick and out of school for three days last week.

Anyway, their cousins were coming over to play this afternoon. Everyone is very excited. I told my son and daughter one condition of the afternoon was they needed to finish their homework in the morning. My son did his. My daughter still hasn’t. We’ve tried several times, starting and stopping. I’ve reminded and threatened more times than I should, trying to give her more chances. My sister and I pushed the time back from noon to 2:00 (partly because her baby just went down for a nap). I told my daughter if she finishes, they are all coming over. If not, I am taking her brother to their house and bringing her back home with me. She is hysterical.

I really do not want to motivate or parent via threats or bribes but am at a loss. Any advice??
Sorry for the lengthy post. TIA
post #2 of 15
Not sure how well others will take this but for me when dd really didnt want to do the homework back when she was in 1st I just let it go and let her deal with the consequences at school the next day for not having it done. Here that means she didnt get all her recess. She finally figured out that if she didnt do the work then she didnt get to play.

Now it is NOT my preference to loose recess since I think it is super important but I felt that dd needed to learn about consequences to her actions.
post #3 of 15
Maybe make it more playful? Come up with a few places like in a dry bathtub with pillows, under the table, in a closet with a headlamp etc... Ask her where she would like to do her homework?
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MCatLvrMom2A&X View Post
Not sure how well others will take this but for me when dd really didnt want to do the homework back when she was in 1st I just let it go and let her deal with the consequences at school the next day for not having it done. Here that means she didnt get all her recess. She finally figured out that if she didnt do the work then she didnt get to play.

Now it is NOT my preference to loose recess since I think it is super important but I felt that dd needed to learn about consequences to her actions.
I thought about having her deal with the consequences at school. However, she already dislikes the school and I was hoping that would improve. Also, she is quirky and has epilepsy...many teachers get frustrated with her or underestimate her abilities to begin with so I hate to reinforce their attitudes. But maybe that is what i need to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamama View Post
Maybe make it more playful? Come up with a few places like in a dry bathtub with pillows, under the table, in a closet with a headlamp etc... Ask her where she would like to do her homework?
I'll try it. Sometimes playful/silly works with her and other times it irritates her. It's worth a try.

Thank you both!
post #5 of 15
How much homework are we talking about?
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
How much homework are we talking about?
I do not know what the norm will be. But because they were out M-W last week they had the following for the weeekend (I believe they are making up some in class work - my son says they do worksheets in class too)...

practice ten sight words (she is usually fine doing this)
ten spelling words (different than sight words - they have a test every week on ten new words)
thirteen worksheets (that's counting front and back as two)
She dislikes the worksheets the most. I spread them over the entire weekend having them do a few every day. They did none Friday night because they were exhausted.

I should add...the teacher keeps saying this is review from Kindy. My children didn't learn all of this in Montessori so much of it is new to them (like spelling tests and worksheets).
post #7 of 15
Thirteen worksheets in 3 days! Holy moly that's a lot.

This is what I would do:
Home from school.
Snack.
Give her something to chew on while doing homework (it's what our OT recommended for ds, and it really works to help him focus -- we use sugarless bubble gum)
Set the timer for 15 minutes. What she gets done in 15 minutes she gets done. If she's not done in 15 minutes, she reaps the consequences at school. Our school told us that kids 'should' have about 10 minutes of homework per grade. So, 15 minutes is reasonable and doable.

This is a routine that works for most families I know. It gets it done and lets her play as much as possible after it's done. While she's doing her homework, sit there with a magazine or something else and do not engage unless she's directly asking you for help.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Thirteen worksheets in 3 days! Holy moly that's a lot.

This is what I would do:
Home from school.
Snack.
Give her something to chew on while doing homework (it's what our OT recommended for ds, and it really works to help him focus -- we use sugarless bubble gum)
Set the timer for 15 minutes. What she gets done in 15 minutes she gets done. If she's not done in 15 minutes, she reaps the consequences at school. Our school told us that kids 'should' have about 10 minutes of homework per grade. So, 15 minutes is reasonable and doable.

This is a routine that works for most families I know. It gets it done and lets her play as much as possible after it's done. While she's doing her homework, sit there with a magazine or something else and do not engage unless she's directly asking you for help.
thx.
I recounted...my son had 13 and daughter had 11 - they are in the same class not sure why she didn't have all the worksheets.

I'll try giving her something to chew (she loves xylitol gum I sometimes give them for their teeth). We've tried snack, homework, then play and snack, play then homework. I hate to have them do homework as soon as they get home...but maybe it is necessary.

I do sit with them at the table when they do homework. If I don't prompt she won't do it.

She did finish all of it today
post #9 of 15
Last year my DS had a tough time getting homework done as well. We went through variations of when he would do it. If he waited until dinner was over he would be too tired, right after getting off the bus he was hungry and wanted to veg for a bit. But he gets off the bus at 4. We ended up with right after school being the best time. Very similar to what LynnS6 says. Snack, homework, chore, dinner, play time, bed. I like the gum idea especially now that the homework routine has to be started again.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
**OP Update**

LynnS6 - Thank you for the gum suggestion. It's really helped. My neighbor teaches SE and said she suggests chewable necklaces for her students with sensory or anxiety issues - my daughter has both, her anxiety is caused by her need for perfection. Of course, part of the reason she doesn’t want to do the homework is because she is tired and wants to go out and play…Also the reasons her brother zooms through the homework a little too quickly without regard for the quality of work!

The past two days they've had spelling words, sight words, three worksheets and a small book to read each day. It looks as though that might be the norm. She gets through the sight words and two worksheets fine but then it starts to break down. At this point, before it escalates, I’ve been giving her the gum and it has really helped to keep her focused and calm – plus it is a treat to her. We still have a ways to go but this is keeping the situation less stressed.
Thank you!

p.s. Yesterday the teacher asked me to add additional work to their nightly homework. (My children have gone from Montessori Kindy to public first and were not exposed to the same things so they are a little 'behind'.) I'm not sure how I will fit the additional work into our night. They normally get home from school around 4:00 and we aim to get them in bed at 7:00.

One more thing...I just re-read the posts and we are going way longer than 15 mintues. Actually, 15 min seems to be her breaking point. Maybe I should simply cut it off and have her turn in the rest unfinished.
post #11 of 15
By fourth grade my daughter had four hours of homework each night. Some of it was busy work.

Some of it, I did for her. Especially the stupid time consuming pages. She had one every Tuesday.... she was supposed to write 20 spelling words 20 times each in alphabetical order. How dumb is that??? So, I put it in the word generator online and it alphabetized it for her, and printed it 20 times. She was also in dance competition, so she danced for four hours on Tuesday nights... it was all she could do to go to school, dance, and then do all the math and science work for that night, I didn't see any reason to write 20 words, 20 times each.

But, all of her math, all of her science, and all of her reading projects were done 100% by her. She couldn't stand the thought of having the teacher disappointed with her the next day, so she'd get it done. She didn't care what *I* thought, but the kids and the teacher couldn't possibly be disappointed.

If the consequence at school doesn't motivate her, then I think you should just keep encouraging her. If she doesn't want to sit at the kitchen table, maybe try the coffee table, or a lap desk on the couch. Let her work slowly. It may take her all evening with breaks here and there to finish. She might not be able to sit and power through her homework like her brother, but she can get it done in 20 minutes increments. We all have our own style for working on things we hate, she just needs to find hers.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post
By fourth grade my daughter had four hours of homework each night. Some of it was busy work.
Wow...four hours is crazy!



Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post
We all have our own style for working on things we hate, she just needs to find hers.
This is true with so many things in their lives. Having two children the same age I see how different they can be. e.g. She will patiently work on one of her art creations for hours while her brother 'speed paints' pictures!
post #13 of 15
Hmm. I think the best thing is to try to get her worked into a routine, so the habit of doing homework is so set that it doesn't occur to her to not do it. My dd gets home from school and immediately practices piano and does homework. She's just used to that routine. But the issue is how to get to that routine.

I guess you could talk to her about how to set up as comfortable a situation for homework as possible. Like, it's something bad that unfortunately has to happen (and I'm one who thinks kids get way too much homework and it's largely busywork, so I really get why she doesn't like it), but if it has to get done then maybe she'd like it done at a particular place, with fancy pencils, with music playing, or some other comfort measures? Sometimes that will work with my dd, if something is going to be a pain, we'll talk about it. Like, "Yeah, it's a pain, but sadly it has to be done. How can we make it as little of a pain as possible?" Anyway, that's the only idea I have, and I really do agree with her about homework being this side of useless if that's her issue with it. Empathizing with her about it might help too.

I just read more and I see that it's taking longer than 15 minutes? I remember dd's first grade teacher saying that if it took more than 15 minutes, it would just become frustrating and we should contact her and she'd adjust things. Have you talked to the teacher?
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post
Have you talked to the teacher?
Not about the homework but I have talked with her about other things. She is exactly the type of teacher I didn't want my children to have...she seems to suck the joy out of learning, is a dictator with rules for the sake of rules, uses methods of discipline and motivation I do not agree with, etc.
post #15 of 15
I think she'll get into the swing of it after a few weeks. Forming a habit takes some time. Its hard in the beginning though! I do think that you need to set the time and the place, and that it needs to be the same everyday.

Breaks between tasks are helpful too. We have always used a timer and given 5 minute breaks after each completed task or sheet.

I would ask the teacher exactly how long she expects her first graders to spend on homework each night. I think she'll say 15 or 20 minutes. After that amount of time (not counting breaks) I would write a note and say, "This is how far she got with support after X number of minutes." Then put it away unfinished. The teacher needs the feedback. She may ask your daughter to complete it at school, or she may adjust her expectations.
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