First grade homework issues - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 10 Old 02-24-2009, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We've been having the worst trouble with homework. It seems that almost no matter what we do, DSD winds up in tears and DH is ready to pull out his hair. The teacher sends home a folder on Mondays, with math and spelling to be completed by Friday. The school is an immersion school, so the homework is in Spanish. There is usually an English translation, but not always. I know some Spanish from high school, DH knows very little.

Every once in a while, they will be expected to write something (like instructions on how to do a household chore) and this is really a nightmare. Neither of us know enough Spanish to make sure the verb tenses are correct, etc. We also wind up looking up words on the internet, and there is no guarantee that we even have the right words for things. I will be asking him to bring this up at her next parent-teacher conference.

DH will get her started, and she does not want to sit there and do it. She keeps getting up. Getting distracted. She'll ask for help with things that she *knows* how to do, claiming that she "doesn't get it." Last night, for example, she "didn't get" 12-2=. She was doing that in kindergarten (She is in 1st grade). She knows how to do it. But last night, they spent a good 5 minutes on it.

At first, I suggested to DH that maybe it was an attention thing, so he tried sitting there with her while she did her homework. That led to even more meltdowns and refusals to do her work. Now he's been setting her up at the kitchen table or at the desk in her room, but she will come to him with questions. Some are legitimate, but some are of the variety mentioned before. Or she will claim to have forgotten the directions, two minutes after DH explained them to her.

I don't believe the problem is academic, for a couple of reasons. 1) DH asked her teacher about the homework, and it is based on what they are doing in class. It also has a lot of review in it - skills from previous weeks and months that have been mastered already. She does fine in school. She isn't at the top of her class, but she isn't behind. 2) If DH is not home, and I do homework with her, she does it quickly and with very few issues. She still asks some questions, but they seem more legitimate, if that makes sense.

Homework seems to take up the majority of our evenings, and it is making things *really* unpleasant. How do things go at your house? Any advice?

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#2 of 10 Old 02-24-2009, 01:39 PM
 
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Why not just help with her homework every night and leave dh out of it? Other than that, I don't know, my first grader doesn't have homework other than reading.
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#3 of 10 Old 02-24-2009, 02:47 PM
 
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Given what you said about her doing it quickly and with no issues with you, it really sounds like it might be an attention thing.
My thought would be to entice her to do her homework with a "carrot on a stick", so to speak.... Whenever possible ( I know you said sometimes it has to be your DH) try to do her homework with you (DH is "terribly busy" with something else) and tell her that as soon as her homework is done and DH is done with his busywork, that then he will, say, read a favorite book, or a new book, or play a game with her, or go for a walk together, etc... whatever she would really love to do, and it can be just the two of them.

Soon she will learn that doing her homework quickly, no matter who is helping her, will get her that daddy-time she wants, in a much better way than what is happening now.

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#4 of 10 Old 02-24-2009, 03:48 PM
 
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sorry, deleted on accident.. had to re-read, and baby woke up..

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#5 of 10 Old 02-24-2009, 07:08 PM
 
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What time is your dh trying to do it with her? There's a huge difference for our ds in his ability to withstand frustration if we get started with homework at 7:30 vs. 7:00. (He doesn't like to do it when he first gets home.) so, if it's later when dad is helping her, that might be one reason for the difference. I also know that my kids are much more likely to whine with me about something than they are with dh - I'm much more reactive (and probably more likely to give in . Sometimes one parent really isn't very good at certain things!

another thought: I view homework as between my child and the school. It's my job to provide a place and a time to do it, but it's really up to my child to do it. If ds gets too frustrated, we take a short break, and I remind him that he has the option of NOT doing it.

There's good research evidence to suggest that homework is minimally useful at best, and not at all helpful at worst. So, I really don't push it. Our ds is a major conformist so he will do his. (They also have to stay in at recess if they don't do it at home, and he doesn't want that.) But if he chose not to do it, I might go fight with the school for him not to have to do it.

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#6 of 10 Old 02-24-2009, 08:54 PM
 
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We struggled with this A LOT in first grade. The good news is that it did eventually subside. Now DS is 3rd grade and homework is rarely a struggle. So hang in there, it does get better.

For us, homework is not optional. Our kid's private school will "decline to have a student return for subsequent school years" for non-compliance in homework. So like it or not, homework has to be done. However, when things do melt down, I do remind DS that the option is to do it in the evening or to take the school consequences for not doing homework. The first time a student doesn't complete it they do it at recess. Repeat offenses result in being sent to the office for a reprimand -- pretty much the most severe punishment this school uses.

I'm not sure what you have already tried, but here are some things we eventually worked as as helpful. For us it was mostly about finding the right combination of circumstances for maximum ease of homework.
* Timing. For us the best was about 5-6 PM, when I was nearby making dinner and DH was rarely home yet. After dinner he was just too tired and just after school he wasn't ready to concentrate yet.
* "Closeness" of parent. For us, close enough to call for help but not hovering works best. There was a while though the he preferred a parent sitting at the table doing something of their own.
* Minimal temptations. We made it a family rule that the TV is off during homework time, even though DD doesn't have much homework yet. That minimized DSs "I'm missing out" feelings.
* Place. We settled on dining room table. In his room he just got distracted and/or he felt isolated. Now sometimes he will work in the office if there is too much going on around the house, but he's getting better at getting things done.
* Involvement of parent. We check to make sure the work is done but we don't "help" much. We don't even really correct work beyond saying "have you double checked that?" if we see a mistake. I would say that if she was expected to write something, she should be able to do that on her own. If the verbs are wrong, let the teacher deal with that. If you check and correct it all, the teacher has no way of knowing if she needs additional help.
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#7 of 10 Old 02-24-2009, 10:13 PM
 
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Just wondering about the method your DH uses when helping with her homework vs. your method.

I'd be inclined to make you the main homework parent just because it will cause less stress all around.

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#8 of 10 Old 02-24-2009, 10:35 PM
 
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I could have written the same post about my first grader. I have no suggestions, but lots of sympathy.
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#9 of 10 Old 02-25-2009, 12:29 AM
 
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ever since i changed places - i havent had no problem. we do homework at the park on a good weather day, at the public library, at a restaurant - ANY PLACE but home. right now we are at my school in the math lab both of us doing homework.

i know that might be tough with a one year old too.

for me i can relate to my dd coz i also get v. distracted at home and do most of my homework at the lab.

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#10 of 10 Old 02-25-2009, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks you for all of the suggestions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
What time is your dh trying to do it with her?
We've tried various times, but are limited by . Bedtime is around 8:00, and she gets home form school between 4:00 and 4:30. The bedtime routine takes 45 min to an hour and dinner can take 30 minutes to an hour. DSD is a dawdler - she takesher time eating dinner, brushing her teeth... and doing her homework. We've tried giving her some time after school to chill out and do whatever before starting homework, but a lot of the time she just wants to get started on it right away. So most nights, she probably starts by 4:30, takes a break for dinner, then does it until the amount that needs to be done that night is complete. It always feels like we are trying to cram a lot into 4 hours, but it is all necessary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alyantavid View Post
Why not just help with her homework every night and leave dh out of it?
This would be the easiest. DH wants to be involved in homework. The fact that he is the parent and I am the stepparent comes into play as well. I think that he feels that he "has" to be involved where my involvement would be more voluntary. The final issue is that I am often cooking dinner when this is going on, and although I could do both at the same time, DH might feel bad about making me do everything. If he is gone, we have no choice though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom View Post
I'm not sure what you have already tried, but here are some things we eventually worked as as helpful. For us it was mostly about finding the right combination of circumstances for maximum ease of homework.

* Minimal temptations. We made it a family rule that the TV is off during homework time, even though DD doesn't have much homework yet. That minimized DSs "I'm missing out" feelings.
* Place. We settled on dining room table. In his room he just got distracted and/or he felt isolated. Now sometimes he will work in the office if there is too much going on around the house, but he's getting better at getting things done.
* Involvement of parent. We check to make sure the work is done but we don't "help" much. We don't even really correct work beyond saying "have you double checked that?" if we see a mistake. I would say that if she was expected to write something, she should be able to do that on her own. If the verbs are wrong, let the teacher deal with that. If you check and correct it all, the teacher has no way of knowing if she needs additional help.
The TV is generally off - we aren't TV free but pretty close. DS is often running around, so seeing him able to play might be annoying. We've tried having her do homework in her room (we set up a desk specifically for homework), but the distractions there are almost as big as the distractions in the main part of the home (we have a 2BR apt). She'll sometimes start writing notes or drawing pictures if left alone in there for 10 minutes. But at the dining room table, she is in the middle of all of the commotion. It seems lose-lose. I'd love to be able to take her somewhere else, but with DS and soon another baby, it wouldn't be feasible at this moment in time.

With any homework other than writing something, we generally do the "Why don't you double-check that one" move. With the writing things, the directions usually state, "Help your child write blah blah blah." She just doesn't have the vocabulary in Spanish to write what she knows how to say in English. And DH and definitely don't have the vocabulary. This is one that I really will have him bring up at spring conferances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gingerstar View Post
Given what you said about her doing it quickly and with no issues with you, it really sounds like it might be an attention thing.
My thought would be to entice her to do her homework with a "carrot on a stick", so to speak.... Whenever possible ( I know you said sometimes it has to be your DH) try to do her homework with you (DH is "terribly busy" with something else) and tell her that as soon as her homework is done and DH is done with his busywork, that then he will, say, read a favorite book, or a new book, or play a game with her, or go for a walk together, etc... whatever she would really love to do, and it can be just the two of them.

Soon she will learn that doing her homework quickly, no matter who is helping her, will get her that daddy-time she wants, in a much better way than what is happening now.
This might be the solution. It's weird, the dynamic when DH is here is just so different than when it is just me. I might sit down with him and work out a schedule for the week where we pick a couple of days for dinner to be easy and him to go to the Y and workout after work. I wonder if I get her started before he gets home if that would make a difference? Then when he gets home, he can just goof around with the kids.

This would probably be the best, the only problem with this being that although the homework usually comes home on Monday, sometimes the teacher forgets and sends it on Tuesday. Or half on Monday, then half on Wednesday. Her teacher is pretty disorganized and terrible about communication - other parents we know feel the same way. This school has been so annoying this year that there is no way the other two kids are going there.

After DSD leaves for her mom's, I think I'll have a talk with DH and see if he wants to try a new approach with homework. Anything has to be better than the current situation.

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