Homework battles- need help! (vent included)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by navineja, Dec 21, 2007.

  1. navineja

    navineja New Member

    I am so frustrated over homework issues that I just want to scream- and they are only in 1st grade! We have tried so many things- rewards, discipline, ignoring the tantrum, letting the teacher handle it, etc. Yet still every night, N fusses and whines and tantrums and begs for me to give her the answers and... (you get the idea). She ends up loosing out on so much play time and fun stuff, which just makes her angrier.
    Yesterday after school, we had plans to go to my sister's so the twins could play with their cousins. I told the girls that they needed to do their work with NO problems if they wanted to stay. J started to act up but a reminder quickly ended that for her. N however just kept it up, despite reminders, and when the crying started, I told her that it was time to go. (J stayed since she cooperated.) Then the problems really began. The crying and the dirty looks and the begging for "just one more chance". I lost it (BAAAAADDD mommy) and yelled at her, then smacked her. (Now of course I feel rotten) Long story short, When we got home, she cooperated with the original homework, did some extra that was needed to make sure that she understood what she was working on and showed self control even when I could see that she was about to start acting up again.
    Since she did so well at home, I did end up taking her back to my sister's for the evening. (I wanted to go to- I needed the adult company- and I think that I wanted to soothe my conscience for yelling at her!) She was very well behaved all evening.
    But I know that I cannot face this homework battle every day for the next 11 years! She admits that she just doesn't want to do it and that she wants me to just give her the answers. I try to reason with her that it is not going to go away, I am not going to give her the answers, she is loosing out, all that stuff- but still no success. HEEEEELLLLPPPP, please! I need ideas and I will try just about anything. TIA.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    The homework battles are no fun. Sorry you're struggling.

    Has N ever been tested for a learning disability that might make it hard for her to get the homework done? How does she do with her classwork in school? Does she have an IEP?

    Some other ideas for cutting down on the homework battles:
    Hiring a high school or college student to sit with N to do her homework
    Having N attend an after-school program where homework is done
    Letting natural consequences take over at school (for example, she has to stay in for recess or after school to do her homework)

    Hope you get relief soon.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I absolutely refuse to fight homework battles. Until my son was stable, I told the teachers flat out that I wanted to have a peaceful home and was more concerned about my son's mental health than his homework and that I would not penalize him, even if they tanked his grade. My son, after neuropsychologist testing, was determined to be Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified (high functioning autism). He got a new IEP and does his homework in school now and our home life is really peaceful and good. To me the price of homework battles was too high for the entire family. In truth, my son was acting out because even sitting through six hours of school was hard for him. An extended school day can work well for kids who don't have extra problems and are "typical" kids, but it was too hard for my son. He is doing great in mainstreamed classes now with an adjusted curriculum for his needs. Bascially, he is doing almost hte same work as his "typical" peers, minus work at home and with extra supports, which he rarely needs anymore. I never dreamed he would do so well both in school, the community, and at home. His teachers love him. I don't see how fighting with him over homework would have improved his life. He is fourteen now and on the right track in every area of life. This is a kid who used to tantrum his life away. He's really come far. We haven't seen a tantrum in years. This is your choice. Some parents feel it is "giving in to the child" to not force the homework issue, but if the child clearly is in distress over doing homework, especially at age six, my opinion is not to push the issue. I think you should have him evaluated by a neuropsychologist to see if he has any issues that are preventing him from being able to do his homework. Perhaps, like my son, there is a reason beyond defiance for him to not be able to just sit down and do it. THere may be a darn good explanation that the school hasn't caught. Finding out why in my opinion is better than the daily shouting, child refusal, and anger that can lead to some moms slapping their kids. NeuroPsychs can be found in Childrens and University hospitals and their intensive evaluations and testing are worth more than (in my opinion) any other form of testing and can really give you a great understanding of our difficult children. (((Hugs))) Dont feel bad for losing it. We are all human, parents trying to puzzle out the "why" of our kids.
  4. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    in my humble opinion, you are too involved in the homework process. It is an easy trap to fall into ~ I did it myself.

    I recommend the followoing books on this subject:

    Ending the Homework Hassle by John Rosemond and Homework without Tears by Lee Canter.

    Basically, you need to put the responsibility on the child. Calmly explain that the homework is her job to finish not yours so you are no longer available to help. Give her a time frame to get it done and at the end of that time, put up the books and say nothing more about it. If she hasn't done the homework or hasn't finished the homework, simply write a note to her teacher saying that she did not finish the assignment and ask for appropriate consequences at school.

    Here is a comment made about the Rosemond book on Amazon:

    I think it is 100% dead on. I wish I had someone tell me that years ago when my difficult child was in school. Helping and pushing her as much as I did made her feel like she was incapable of accomplishing things on her own. I think that affects her to this day.

    Please don't misunderstand me. I respectfully disagree with MWM on the importance of doing homework. I see every day the consequences of high school students who don't do their homework. They simply do not master the material and it has a snowball effect. I do not believe that you can master higher level mathematics (I teach Algebra 2) without doing practice problems.

    However, at your difficult child's age, learning to be responsible and doing homework on her own is more important than the content (again in my humble opinion).

  5. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    been there done that for SO many years. Still have the problem but not as bad as when he was in elementary school. The use of the computer has made things so very much better. He always complained his hand hurt. I always blew it off as an excuse. Finally, when being tested they (school psychologist) said something about the writing. He has an IEP, and it states use of computer..in class for all free writing assignments. Some he chooses to do at home. The computer does so much.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Kathy, I think it is important to "typical" kids. My son will have no real use for geometry or social studies while he learns to clean his clothes and take showers every day. Special Education kids often have different life goals and more immediate and important issues than if they will go to college and get a degree. We are hoping for 80% independence for him. Some kids CAN NOT do homework and for some it is unimportant. I just want this child to learn that adults brush their teeth. in my opinion you are thinking as a regular ed teacher. It really depends on the child. I continue to feel that forcing homework wars at home will NOT help certain kids and will actually be worse for them. It's not the same as if my Learning Disability (LD) daughter, who is perfectly capable of independence and college, decides she won't do her work. This mom doesn't know why her child won't or CAN'T do homework, and he is only six. I still feel a neuropsychologist evaluation is best for now rather than putting the house in an uproar every night. It's not fun to live with and negatively impacts the entire family. And often the child is not ready for homework. I see you have highly successful children. I do too, but Lucas has a different threshhold of what I consider successful. He is NOT mentally challenged, but he does struggle with day-to-day life. What purpose would it have served to force such a child to do two hours of homework each night? Every child is an individual and in my opinion you can't make a blanket statement about "I've seen." I know you have seen a lot, being a teacher, but each child is different and in my opinion a war over homework just is NOT worth it. I don't believe you would feel the same if you had seen my son. What THIS mom decides to do is up to her. I personally would not push it, and six years old is pretty young to be getting a lot of homework, in my opinion. To me, the first priority is to figure out "the why" especially in such a young child. Supports can make the difference in a rich life or one of failure with our "different" kids. I don't know how else to explain it. While I don't want my son to use his disability as an excuse (and he doesn't), I want him to be a happy, healthy contributing member of society to the extent that he can. I don't want him to be so frustrated and disturbed that he can't function at all. That's why I think a neuropsychologist exam is such a good idea. THe parent can then know exactly why this child is refusing to do his homework and if it's productive to push it or harmful. in my opinion it could be one or the other. We were told not to push it and son is still way ahead of where anyone imagined. With all due respect, I do think it's case-by-case. JMO
  7. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Navineja, you have my empathies. My difficult child is also in first grade and we get into power struggles as well. With my difficult child, we sail through math easily, but as soon as we have to read or spell, it is instant meltdown.

    While I like Smallworld's idea, I do not have the resources to hire somebody.

    I, too, disagree with MWM that homework should be an issue that is not pushed if the child tantrums. If I let this go with my difficult child, she will be several grade levels behind in her reading comprehension.

    Instead, I talked with her teacher. She is aware of the hard time that difficult child gives me over homework. She has an aide help her weekly with reading, and it is keeping her pretty close to what is considered average reading comprehension for her age. Yesterday, difficult child came home with a homework sheet for the 2 week break. It was all reading. Read a book to a stuffed animal. Read one to your favorite new gift. Read one under the kitchen table. One to grandma over the phone. Well as I read her the list (and I was giggling because I thought it was cute) she instantly went into meltdown mode at the thought of having to read so much.

    This may be an ongoing battle with her. But the kid needs to learn how to read.
  8. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    That is a good point BBK. This also was an issue. took us a long time to "get it". difficult child is overwhelmed when he looks at or hears the homework list. Like he sees a big picture, and not each part. As BBK said, her difficult child saw all these books to read. She was overwhelmed, went into meltdown mode.
    We often need to take it one assignment at a time, one problem at a time. We need to remind him of this because he doesn't see it this way. Same at school. He gets a test and see's 100 questions. He has to take it one question at a time. HE has to do this. Tell him self there is only one. Then only one and so on. This was very difficult to detect, but once we did it is handled much better.
  9. dirobb

    dirobb I am a CD addict

    this is a bit Occupational Therapist (OT) but my difficult child had this issue (big picture) in reverse. With his reading he would read one word at a time and could not figure out the sentence he just read cause it was just a series of words. At 14 I think he still struggles with it. Esp if it is a BIG word it will stand out and everything else gets lost. Just reminded me of him

    A for the homework battles...good luck. No great words of wisdom here. Still struggling. We have even moved to a charter school. very little homework maybe once a week and only one class. (other than studing for tests) and this rarely gets done. But it sure beats where we were at this time last year. Our homelife is a lot less stressful. But I still feel he is short changing himself.

    This week or last weekend he did not study for mid-terms because no one told him he had any. The teachers never mentioned them until (suprise,suprise) the day before the test. Of course now his story has changed several times. He is also not very truthful.

    Don't beat yourself up. We all get frustrated. My husband and I just try to find the humour in our day. I would much rather laugh than cry or pull my hair out. Doesn't mean I dont feel that way sometimes.

    I am glad you got to get some Adult time in. We all need some sanity breaks.
  10. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    I think universally that everyone agrees with having her tested for Occupational Therapist (OT) concerns as well as read/write disorders.

    I also think that case by case basis applies. MWM's son has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/not otherwise specified. Some of the kids are more capable (bipolar, aspies, etc.)and have different goals and objectives.

    Homework conquest takes a lot of feeling out as far as what is going to motivate them.

    difficult child 1 made it hellish. With him letting him burn off some energy before homework made a world of difference. He came home from sitting in a classroom, sitting on a bus for 1.5 hours and then sitting down in front of homework. AAAAGGGGHHHH! Now, quick (15 mins) of basketball, running up and down the sidewalk, on yucky days a few minutes of whatever exercise videos that I never have time to do or the radio and dancing in the living room gives him some fun. Next, quick snack, glass of milk and then he gets to show me how "brilliant" he is.

    difficult child 2 (the joker) joins in the afternoon antics and then shows me how brilliant he is. Since he's the joker, I bust his chops. When we study spelling words, every time he gets one right (which is all the time) I scowl and say "curses" in my best villian voice.

    difficult child 3, Ms. Anxiety, was convinced it was too hard. She likes to empty the dishwasher and talk to me about her day. I spin it around to where she's "teaching" me what she's learned and then I ask her to show me via her homework.

    in my humble opinion, it's as individual as fingerprints, for a while, you get the finger, but eventually you can identify the body!


  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I did a combo of things.

    I battled homework for a time period then I stepped back and said it was up to them and I wasnt going to fight the war. If they did it, they did it. Dont come yelling at me if they didnt. It worked for two of them. Jamie tried for a period of time saying he had a free pass not to do homework but figured out fairly quickly that it meant his grades tanked and he wasnt learning very well.

    Jamie was my kid who struggled hardest with school work. It didnt come as easily for him. If Cory had wanted to he could have sailed through with straight A's but he chose to mess up. Oddly enough when Jamie was in the Marines and had to take classes they taught in such a way that he learned things much easier. He has to take classes and such now and has figured out how to learn. I guess when its your livelihood it makes a huge difference.
  12. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MWM ~ Did you even read my post? I did not advocate fighting a homework battle at home ~ in fact, quite the opposite.

    And yes, I do think like a regular ed teacher ~ probably because I am a regular ed teacher. However, in today's least restrictive environment, many special education students are being placed in regular education inclusion classes and they are expected to perform at the same level on assessments and standardized testing. In order to do that, at the middle and high school level at least, homework is essential to mastering the material.

    I understand that some special education students will never be able to perform at that level and need to be in special classes. In those cases, homework would not be as important if necessary at all. I also understand that an alternative to homework for some special education students can be a resource or study skills class where the assignments can be done at school instead of at home. The important thing is that the students get time to practice the material at some point before the next class day.

    I think that we need to be careful when we make homework sound like an unnecessary evil that is just imposed on children to bring strife to them and their families.

    I liked these educators' take on the importance of homework:

    Navineja ~ So as to not lose sight of the purpose of the thread, in your case, I think the most important part of my post is in the last sentence. The kids should be able to do it alone. If your difficult child can't do it alone, I think you need to follow up on the suggestions on testing. I would also schedule a conference with the teacher and tell her what is happening at home. If you find that your difficult child is perfectly capable of doing the work in class by herself, then you will know that she should be able to finish the assignments at home on her own.

  13. navineja

    navineja New Member

    Thanks to all for the advice and opinions. I am a little short of time, so forgive me for not responding specifically to the things that I read, but there are some that I want to refer to. Testing: N has not been tested b'c she does not have any problems in school. She is capable of the work and when she chooses to cooperate, homework takes a maximum of 15-20 minutes. It is all work that they have previously covered in class. I have spoken regularly to her teacher and I see the schoolwork when it comes home. She is an excellent student at school, top of her reading group and no problems in math or in any other subject. There is no question that she can do it, she just doesn't want to (ODD thing).
    I think that the most frustrating part to me is that I know she can do it. The actual sitting down and starting is not the issue- the problems come when she brings me the work to check. If she has anything that she needs to go back and fix, that is when she melts down. N will tell me that it is b'c she just wants to go and play, so she doesn't want to spend a lot of time thinking about the work. I try to reason with her that having to do it over takes much longer than doing it right the first time, but she is only 6, so she really doesn't get that concept yet.
    Someone mentioned playtime first- I think that may be an excellent thing for us to try, based on N's explanation that she doesn't want to do it b'c she wants to play.
    As for letting natural consequences take their course, I do try that as much as possible. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any consequence at school for this anymore. The first few times, the teacher had her do it at recess. Now she gets to finish it in the morning before class formally begins, which is not a consequence to her. And she is too young to really get that bad grades are anything to worry about.
    I would love to say to just forget about it and let N and the school deal with it, but I think in the long run that would do her a disservice, by leading her to believe that she can just cop out of things that she doesn't like so she can go and have fun. husband and I try very hard to teach real world lessons from an early age, so there is no shock when they get there, and the real world doesn't look kindly on those that just want to have fun instead of handling their responsibilities. And yes I know that she is only 6, but yesterday she was only 3 and tomorrow she will be 18 and going out into that world. OK that's a little dramatic, but you get my point :).
    Anyhow thanks again and I will let you know how the advice works after school starts back!
  14. tammyjh

    tammyjh New Member

    Yeah, we've been there done that. My difficult child used to miss recess for not finishing homework and this was AFTER spending almost all evening after school working on it...and sometimes after spending all weekend on it. husband and I both felt that her emotional well being is more important than homework so she now has very little to none....mostly none. We've also dropped her down to Special Education. in all subjects and are tweaking her curriculum. She may have homework again in the future but for now, its something that has had to go. I figured that with all the fighting, crying, and pushing, she wasn't learning much anyway except that schoolwork/homework was a very unpleasant experience and one that would have to be repeated every day for many years. Its not worth it if they're mentally exhausted at the end of the day.
  15. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, that does seem like a consequence to me. When the other kids are greeting each other and get ready to start their day, she has to sit down and do homework.

    I would say that as long as it is getting it done I wouldn't fight a big battle over it. I have a feeling that is how the teacher is looking at it, too.

    Dr. Rosemond does suggest home consequences like loss of television or Internet time. You sound like you would be comfortable with his back to basics advice. Again, though, he doesn't advocate turning homework into a battlefield.

    It may even be a phase that she outgrows. She is only six.

    Good luck ~ you have a lot of school years ahead. I'm glad that mine are grown! :smile:

  16. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    If the problems come when she brings you work to check, do you have to check her work? In other words, can you leave it to the teacher to check and know for sure what she is learning and retaining? Just a thought . . .
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Kathy, I really don't know how it is in other states. by the way, my son had that strange autistic hyperlexia--he could read at two, so we never stressed that he couldn't read. Getting him to comprehend was another issue, however homework wasn't the answer for him. Special attention in school made a world of difference. He's all over the place in ability--reads at a twelfth grade level, but does math at seventh grade--typical autistic. He is expected to take the tests, but he doesn't have to "pass" the tests, like "typical" kids do. However...HE ALWAYS HAS, even with no homework. My daughter is Learning Disability (LD), and she doesn't have to pass the tests either, but she does too. So at least in Wisconsin even if you're mainstreamed, if you have an IEP you don't need to pass the tests (which, by the way, I think are a waste of time--I wish teachers to teach creatively again). At any rate, my kid's were both in Special Education for a while and they got a lot out of it--both vastly improved. My daughter is able to mainstream this year completely and got all A's, B's and C's. She likes to stay after school and do her homework in the resource room. She is well-organized and hanging in there in spite of processing problems. She rarely sees her Special Education teacher anymore. There are some kids that need "down" time after school, not out of laziness, but out of need. I tended to let the Special Education teachers, who knew my kids so well, plan the kid's IEPs with me, and it worked out well. Not saying it's the answer for all, but both of my kids are really exceeding expectations, especially the one on the autism spectrum. His Regular Ed teachers think he's doing a great job. This was a kid who didn't speak until four (other than rote--like his reading), and who had been prenatally exposed to substances because his birthmother used them. I don't believe homework is good for all kids, but it IS very individual and in my opinion Mom knows her kids best. These are my last two kids out of five and, as an experienced mom, I kind of know when to panic and when to pull back...anyways, Kathy, I respect your opinion and agree to disagree :smile: in my opinion the kids who are behind should be getting extra help IN SCHOOL by TEACHERS... I know I"m not a very good teacher. I'm a good mom, but I don't really know how to explain homework assignments without making my kids look at me with puzzled expressions...lol.
  18. Debbie MA

    Debbie MA New Member

    If she can complete the homework by herself then it might make sense that you not check it, except maybe for completeness, and let that be the teacher's job. One of the purported purposes of homework is that a teacher can see where individual students are having difficulty. At that age especially, I think it's important that the teacher sees the child's work without parental input. Does she usually do the work correctly or is it a sloppy job? If most of the work is done with diligence then I wouldn't insist on corrections.

    Perhaps, like my son, her problem stems from anxiety and perfectionism. My son held himself to unrealistic standards which often had the effect of paralyzing him. If he felt he couldn't do something perfectly he couldn't make himself do anything at all. Statements telling him to just do his best made things worse and the situation would spiral. Pointing out his "errors" could provoke a rage.

    Personally, my views on homework go beyond even those of MWM. Especially in the elementary years I believe homework to be useless and an obstruction to the kind of learning that should be taking place during those years. If it is interfering with relationships in a family, for whatever reason, a parent should refuse to insist that it be completed. Studies show that homework before high school does nothing to improve learning and there is slim evidence that homework in HS might have a small benefit. To me whatever benefit there might be is far outweighed by the learning that can take place when the time is better spent on things a child actually wants to learn and with strengthening important relationships. If you have any interest in these ideas you should read Alfie Kohn and similar authors who have thought deeply about and researched what science actually says about the issue.

  19. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    We were having similar battles with my easy child. Homework and the battle would go on all night long. He was never able to do anything else and would end the night grounded. This was mostly due to his math. It was too hard for him. I spoke to both his resource teacher and his math teacher. They cut down the number of problems he was responsible for. Once he had a manageable amount and didn't feel so overwhelmed the battles ended.

    We have also had the hw battle with our difficult child. I had to type up hw rules and consequences and post them on my kitchen wall. When behavior began I would remind them of the hw rules and refer to the consequences. If you give reasonable, natural consequences consistantly it just might get better.

    Both my easy child and my difficult child seem to need a bit of a break between school and hw. While I don't let them go out with friends before hw is done (or difficult child would never do it)they do have a snack, talk, and watch TV for a short time before beginning hw. I get home from work about the same time as them and I need that little break as well.

    Hang in there and talk to the teacher. Maybe the quantity needs to be cut down, at least at first.

    In my job and as a mom I too would wonder if the work is too hard. Most kids will try to avoid work that is hard and many learn to refuse to do it rather than do it and fail.
  20. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The studies that have seen actually say quite the opposite. While homework has not proven to have a great impact academically in elementary school, the research that I have seen said that it does make a difference at the middle and high school level.

    Speaking from personal experience, I have just finished the semester grades for 5 classes of Algebra 2 students ~ 4 honors and one college prep inclusion class. In almost all cases, students that made A's and B's were the students that did their homework consistently and completely. Students that did not do homework on a consistent basis made C's and D's. Of the four students that failed the class (including 3 honor's level students), all of them did little to no homework. Homework only counted 10% of the average so it is not that the zeros on the assignments that made a big difference. It was the fact that they did not learn the material because they had spent little practicing the material and therefore did not do well on the assessments and final exam.

    And this same scenario has repeated itself over and over again for the 27 years that I have been a classroom teacher.

    MWM ~ I'm curious. Are your children succeeding in higher level mathematics without doing any homework? Are they in high school algebra, geometry, trigonometry, or calculus?

    Debbie ~ I have read and studied a great deal of what Alfie Kohn has to say. Let's just say that I disagree with much of what he says based on personal experience. As far as studies quoted by Alfie Kohn, I'm sure that he quotes studies that back his viewpoint. I have seen studies that disagree with his point of view.