WWYD? Homework is too hard IMHO. How much support do you give to your DC?

(55 Posts)
AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 09:02:36

DS is in a mixed YEAR 1/2 class. Up until now his homework has been electronic and that is the only reason I know that it has been Year 2. I know some 6yos would be able to sit and concentrate unsupervised. I am sure he is given work in class and expected to get on with it but he can't/won't at home. He can do the homework if we sit together. I don't complete it for him, I explain the question and jolly him along. If he gets it wrong, that's ok. It doesn't help that I use different terms and don't understand the methods he is expected to use.

The latest homework is on paper sheets and it is just way too difficult for him. We have a consultation/parents evening in a few weeks. There is no opportunity to talk to the class teacher. If I could have, I would have been tempted to ask if he had the correct work.

He doesn't understand the way the question is phrased (I'm a bit confused). For example: What number is 7 less than 15? 15-7 =? would be fine. To divide 16 by 5, the instruction is to add 4 to sixteen. Either the answer is an estimate or there is a second part to the question that I don't understand.

The instructions are to go over the first sheet together and then DS is to continue with the rest of the paper on his own (9 more pages). I think I should do as asked and then go over the questions so he understands what he was supposed to do.

How much input or support do others give to their Y1/ 6 yos when doing homework?

Wellthen Sun 24-Feb-13 09:08:48

The first question, 7 less than 15, sounds manageable but has been phrased oddly to test problem solving. The fact that 15-7 would be fine is kinda the point, he needs to be able to apply that knowledge to a range of questions.

I would ask him to picture 15 smarties and then imagine 7 less. You could even act it out with bits of lego or something. This physical representation will probably remind him of doing his early take aways and he will realise what 'less' actually means.

I don't understand the second question really. Surely to divide 16 by 5 you count up in 5s till you get close and find the remainder?

But I wouldnt worry about giving support or not. Make your choice about how much support you're giving and simply feed that back to the teacher. I have children who quite obviously do the whole thing with Mum or Dad and others who definately don't. It doesn't matter to me which happens as long as I know.

PolkadotCircus Sun 24-Feb-13 09:27:29

I've just bought Calmer,Easier,Happier Homework which has a section on this.It's a really good book,there was a Q and A with the author on here.

TiffIsKool Sun 24-Feb-13 09:43:30

I know it isn't your question but for x times 5 questions I tell my DCs to times x by 10 and then halve the result.

I have found that some (all?) primary teachers teach math methods that only work for certain numbers. One time DC got into trouble because I taught him the 'correct' way (I'm degree level maths) and when told by the teacher that he should be doing it her way, he at first refused 'because mom says your way is wrong'

meditrina Sun 24-Feb-13 09:49:09

I think you either need to make a separate appointment to see the teacher and explain what you have said here, or send a note with every homework explaining what help has been necessary. If s/he thinks DC has completed the homework independently, then s/he is getting the wrong impression of what he can do and will of course keep setting homework that s/he thinks (wrongly) is the right level.

AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 09:52:47

I now see what you mean about problem solving. I think the same thing being phrased in different ways is what we are having problems with.
Find the total sum of/ x add y/ how many are x and y together?
I think of a number, I add x and the answer is y what was the number?
At the last parent's evening the discussion was about whether the homework is done or not.

At the last parent's evening the discussion was about whether the homework is done or not. There has been no assessment or feedback regarding homework. There is no opportunity to feedback about homework or things he has found difficult.

I'm not sure what the point is. The questions are varied and it looks like a test to me. I don't do the homework but do sit with him to help him work out what the question is. Thanks for your advice I will carry on with this approach and feedback.

I have smarties and lego. I will also give him a number square to use. I'll look up Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework.

TiffIsKool - I don't undertand the methodology or tricks he is using. I have no idea how he adds more than single digits without seeming to carry forward.

Do others leave 6 yos to do homework totally alone? shock. Lots of spiderman drawing if that what the case at Angela Towers.

steppemum Sun 24-Feb-13 09:55:23

I give different amounts of help according to how difficult it is. If I have given more help than I think is normal (ie I had to explain every question, or there was a concept they didn't understand and I had to explain it first) then I would put a note on the bottom telling the teacher how much help they had.

You said 9 pages? Do you have a copy of the schools homework policy? See how much they are supposed to get. if it is half and hour, then work on it well for 30-40 minutes and then stop and put at the bottom that you have worked for that long. So the teacher can see how appropriate the level is she/he is setting.

My dcs are all doing well in school, but homework is a nightmare, it used to wreck every Saturday as ds prevaricated, protested, threw a strop etc. We have worked out some strategies that work, but I don't think it is that unusual for homework to be a bit of a battle.

Polkadot - even with some of her strategies it doesn't always work! Also she expects a lot of homework for young children, if we did what she says, kids would do school, 15 min break, homework, dinner and bedtime routine. No space for play, brownies, music lessons of any other life at all. And kids who work hard at school, come home tired and are not always able to give out any more intellectually. So I am wary of her

AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 09:56:57

meditrina homework from the first day of YR or up until now has been online. There is no opportunity to feedback. He has a reading record but it is just about changing books. I have assumed that he will be undertaking the same work in school and it will be obvious to the teacher what his strengths and weaknesses are. The mum of one of his friends does the homework for her ds and I think this is a waste of time.

AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 10:13:33

I recently named changed. I have posted before about competitive parents and the amount of homework the class are expected to do. I was asked to read every night with him and to change reading books as often as possible. ORT level 10s are 32 pages long and that would take him 40 mins every night (too much imho). I think he is reading very well and am loathe to push him through the reading scheme.

steppemum the halfterm homework is:
1. Numeracy 10 A3 pages or 20 A4s of maths questions
2. Literacy 3 A3 pages or 6 A4s. One paragraph with a comprehension question on each page.
3. He also has a reading book and writing practise.

We have been away on holiday and I decided not to do any until today. I will make sure it gets done but this will take a few days. He has read every day haven't done his school reading book.

DS and I agreed that he would do homework for 30 mins on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays. It is a battle to get him to do homework and it works better for us to do it in chunks.

steppemum Sun 24-Feb-13 10:33:55

That is an awful lot of homework, especially over half term. I would find that a lot for ds in year 5 let alone a 6 year old.

All the studies show that most primary homework doesn't actually help them make progress.

Reading is the only one I feel strongly about. But 40 minutes is a long time to focus and read age 6, after school. 15-20 minutes is fine. We always read to the middle page in those ORT books and then next day read the other half.

The government regs used to be 30 mins literacy and 30 minutes numercy per week. They have now been dropped and left to schools discretion.

I think you plan of 3 days x 30 minutes is plenty. If it was my child, I wouldn't do more and just politely tell school he has worked for the set time and has got this far.

I really passionately believe that children also need to get outside and play, and play imaginatively, and build lego models etc. They have been working all day intellectually and they are brain tired, but not necessarily physically tired or had time to regroup and reflect on what they have done.

Quieter introvert children need some space after school, just as introverted adults do!

steppemum Sun 24-Feb-13 10:36:46

Also one easter holiday ds was going away with granny. I told his teacher he would not be able to do homework as he would be away and couldn't take it with him.

I did the same when he spent the whole weekend away on cub camp.

If this was secondary, I would have made sure it was done. But at primary level aged 7 and 8, I think there has to to be some flexibility

AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 11:22:56

The important news of half term was a sleepover and learning to ride his bike on two wheels.

I want to be supportive of the school and try to do as asked. I don't really see the value in homework but do think it is important that DS can concentrate and do as he is told - especially as there are 28 other dc in his class. I see homework as a practise of expected behaviour.

The main thing he need to work on is his writing - which he hates with a passion. I have been focussed on reading up until noiw. I now think his progress is amazing and so am happy for him to read anything. I don't care if he stays on the same book level for the rest of the year.

simpson Sun 24-Feb-13 12:43:21

That is a lot of work.

It is the type of work my DS would get in yr2.

Does your DS have a ORT stage 10 book to read every night?

DD (5) is on a mixture of stage 10/11 and gets 2 books a week (fiction and a non fiction one) which is fine, otherwise she would not have time to read any books she wants to.

AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 13:03:09

He is supposed to read a book a night. This time last year he was reading level 6 and he could read one a night. As a compromise, I have said I will ensure he reads two school books a week and I level 10 I think that is about right. I have said he will read every day; this is mostly subtitles or comics. He has to read every book in the level to move up. I'm not bothered about this as he is doing really well inho.

I had no input with regard to him being placed in a mixed year class and have mixed feeling about it. I understand that the teacher needs to differentiate work for individuals. I think he is being lumped in with his year 2 classmates and he is really struggling. His teacher has said he is able to cope with the work. He is finding school so challenging that I find it hard to get him to do any homework.

This homework is far too hard for him to complete on his own.

simpson Does your Year 2 DS complete homework on his own without any input from you? Maybe a year will make a big difference.

simpson Sun 24-Feb-13 13:17:16

DS is now in yr3 and yes he does his own work by himself (and did in yr2as well).

There were certain questions that I might have to explain what they want him to do etc but then he cracks on.

DD also does her work by herself (reception) but hers is very age appropriate (ie colouring in sequences, writing a letter to Santa, basic sums etc).

But neither of them get homework every night, it is given out on a Thursday (Friday for DS) and has to be completed by the following Tuesday.

Does he use a number line for the numeracy? He might find it easier...

tethersend Sun 24-Feb-13 13:18:45

If a child cannot complete the homework independently, it is set at the wrong level.

Viviennemary Sun 24-Feb-13 13:24:43

The point is that if people carry on bending over backwards to more or less do the homework themselves or phone their Oxford Professor friends to help, then the problem is going to get even worse. Homework that is consistntly too difficult means that the teacher is inexperienced or hasn't got a clue what he/she is doing.

teacherwith2kids Sun 24-Feb-13 13:43:13


'DS and i worked together on this homework for x minutes. He was unable to do any unaided, so we selected y number of questions to do together. I have underlined the words which I had to explain. I would like to make an appointment with you in order to discuss homework. I would also welsome an informatio session describing the methods that you use for calculation in school.'

Homework should ALWAYS be possible for a child to do unaided unless there is a specific agreement in place that the aim of homework is to encourage parents and children to learn alongside one another.

AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 14:17:43

If he needs a number line shouldn't school provide one? I'm not being facetious, I've never used a number line or square. How I am supposed to know what is needed/used today?

DS's behaviour has found it very difficult this year. I feel like he has been moved up to year 2 and it is too challenging. When I met with the teacher she wanted DS to be there. She said he is keeping up with his peers and there are no issues. I would be very surprised if he can complete this work unaided in class. I am reluctant to make another appointment but will speak to her in a few weeks at parents evening.

There ARE issues out of school. At the start of term he morphed into stroppy teenage with attittude. We both work full time and he comes home at 5ish. I get home at 7-8pm and it is too late to do homework then. His behaviour has improved over the last few weeks. This coincided with me working much longer hours.

IMHO, his homework has always been too hard for him to complete on his own. I don't do the homework for him and if he gets answers wrong, that is what he submits. I couldn't leave him at the kitchen table and be in another room.

AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 14:32:18

Thanks teachers. I will describe in my note what we actually did.

I am surprised by the information that 4/5/6 year olds are supposed to do homework on their own. This is the first time he has been instructed to do something on his own. Up until now instructions have included a note to parents.

We are asked to 'read each night with your child' and not 'ensure your child reads'. To me that means he reads aloud and I listen/ help him spell words out if needed. I really don't know what i'm doing. It is all so different from when I was at school.

learnandsay Sun 24-Feb-13 14:51:14

I'd have no qualms about helping my child with all of it. I'd supply smarties or raisins to do the physical counting with. And if a question was ambiguous I'd say so on the homework sheet.

teacherwith2kids Sun 24-Feb-13 14:59:18

I think that there is a difference between supervision / encouragement / provision of equipment / explaining some tricky bits and 'doing the homework for them'.

If it is clear that the child does not know how to do the homework - as in the parent actually has to teach the child in order to complete the homework - then the homework is too hard because homework should ALWAYS be consolidation, not learning something new.

I have to admit that my attitude to homework is shaped as a teacher by having taught in a school with a significant proportion of illiterate parents (so homework had to be set in such a way that the child knew what to do and could complete it unaided), and as a parent by my belief that the only value of primary homework (other than reading) is one of developing study habits that demonstrate that academic work can also be done at home, and that making time for it is a skill that can be learned, in preparation for secondary.

AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 16:45:37

Ds has completed the homework; I think they are tests. Normally you can tell that online homework is a consolidation of learning. He will have a group of exercises that relate to what he is doing in school. The numeracy paper was all over the place; charts, ranges, find the missing number, measuring, time, etc. The variation of different types of questions and ways to describe problem solving is what made it so difficult. I did have to prompt 'what do you think the question means?'. I hope I have supervised rather than taught.

teacher I normally approach with 'supervision / encouragement / provision of equipment / explaining some tricky bits and 'doing the homework for them'.

He had questions about multipcation and division by 5 that he could do easily. He could not apply this to a problem:
If x has y pence
Marbles are 5 pence
How many marbles can be buy?
How much money he have left over?

His answers are totally wrong and he can't explain how he got them. I've left them.

steppemum Sun 24-Feb-13 17:57:41

OP, all my children can do their homework on their own because it is set at the right level
But I needed to sit them down at the kitchen table with the right stuff (ruler sharp pencil etc) while I potter so that they know that they have to do it.

(and they read aloud to me too)

Children who are fine to work independently at school can still struggle with homework and be stroppy about it. It is to do with the home school divide. Mum isn't my teacher, she is my mum type of thing.

AngelaMartinLipton Sun 24-Feb-13 18:08:50

He was fine with homework last year. The change of pace and jump from reception to year 2 is making his head spin. There are 30ish DC in his class and so he couldn't possibly get teh same level of support in the classroom.

I think this was too difficult and I have written that I sat with him but encouraged him to complete it on his own. The teacher will know from the wrong answers that I didn't help.

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