25 answers

Homework Struggle

I have just recently started doing after school care for two siblings (4yr & 7yr). The 7yr old is in the second grade and I am having a hell of a time to get her to do her homework. I am getting paid to help her with her homework but she refuses to cooperate. I've tried everything but she is really smart and very manipulative and is used to getting her way. I know it's a power thing but how do I win her at her game. I've spoken to her parents and this seems to be a power struggle for them as well. I need the money but I am starting to make myself sick before I have to pick her up from school. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Okay so I've decided to incorporate a lot of the responses I got back. I've decided to give it a try with a little of everything. I think these kids deserve a chance and maybe with a little love, respect and logic it might work. :-) I truly feel in my heart that these kids are not getting their needs met and are holding it over their parents. Both parents love and care for their children but they, like so many others have gotten trapped with wanting to give them everything and both parents working to do it. I truly believe that less is more. When I grew up we didn't have much and I appreciate and value what my husband does financially for our family. It doesn't mean I go out and spend all his money it just means I take care of it better. I will try my best to help my family financially if I can, but not at their expense. If it gets to that point I can only wish these kids the best. :-)

Featured Answers

One trick that may help is to have HER teach YOU! This will give her a sense of control and also gauge how much she is comprehending. You can start off by saying "It's been a while since I was in school; and I don't quite understand what the teacher wants.....Can you help me?" One of the biggest pitfalls is that a child will sit there and say they don't get it, and then you show them, again and again, and before you know it, you have done their homework for them. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful

I know that homework time is really a sore subject with most. I believe you should try to come up with some kind of rewards chart, where she earns something after completing something. First make it small goals with weekly goals. The .99 Store and Dollar Tree have great little reward items. Find her "sweet spot" and see if you can manipulate some work out of her.
Hope that works. The only other suggestion is to talk with the parents about her not finishing homework and having a talk with her teacher to have disciplinary action at school. My daughter in 2nd grade had to go to a 5th grade room to complete unfinished homework, that only happened one time. That is another solution.

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One trick that may help is to have HER teach YOU! This will give her a sense of control and also gauge how much she is comprehending. You can start off by saying "It's been a while since I was in school; and I don't quite understand what the teacher wants.....Can you help me?" One of the biggest pitfalls is that a child will sit there and say they don't get it, and then you show them, again and again, and before you know it, you have done their homework for them. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful

I had a slightly similar situation - here it is. My husband and I had custody of his very young son whose mother had run off. She floated in and out of the picture, but even in her absence it was very hard to exert my own authority with my 'son.' He had a mom, and I wasn't her. He had paternal grandparents who thought they were his parents and muddled the lines of authority, as well. In some ways I was the nanny in terms of how my authority worked. I think the tactics I used with success might work for you, as well.

Tag team the child. This does not imply aggression. It means identify your team and get them working on the same play. Your team consists of:

1) The child (who is benching herself, count her out for the moment).
2) The parents
3) The teacher
4) Yourself

You need all of these players to work in unison using the same game strategy to effect the same goal: Getting this child to work to potential.

Talk to the parents and get them to set up a meeting with the teacher. That's their job, not yours. Together, the four of you need to brainstorm a few strategies - to be tried one at a time. All of you need to be comfortable with the strategies agreed upon; all of you need to commit to unwavering CONSISTENCY and team support. You need to agree upon weekly or daily emails to each other, monitoring progress. Seriously, keep each other abreast of progress or the child will rediscover her leverage by playing one against another.

I guarantee that the little girl will quickly grasp the fact that she can no longer play the parts against the whole. She will come to understand through your loving but firm team actions that the jig is up. Time to get cracking. Play time, darling child, is for after the work is finished.

I found that if I steered clear of threatening tones or language, my son understood that 'all us grown ups' acting in concert for his betterment was a true expression of love. I made sure I mentioned it point-blank every now and then, too. "We do this because we love you."

I'd also suggest that you make it clear to the parents that making a team effort like this is the ONLY option. It is not possible (been there done that) for you to do this without their full, coordinated cooperation.

Look, this child has three environments in which she lives: school, your house, and her own home. All three environments need to be delivering the same message in the same language with consistency. Accomplish that, and you've got it - and the homework -nailed.

Best of luck. :-)

3 moms found this helpful

I kind of think it's rediculous for you to spend all your time and energy trying to get someone else's child to do her homework. I know you get paid to watch her, but come on. You are having to do all the dirty work! I think she needs to do her homework when she gets home with her parents so they can see how bad it is. You are going to get an ulcer over this, and it's not worth it.

2 moms found this helpful

You said she is smart-is the homework too easy?

I have been battling my son for 4 years with homework because it is too easy and extremely boring for him to do work similar to that he has already done at school and knew it before they did it there.
Talk to the teacher but don't be surprised if this doesn't work. His teachers have been no help and have told me-tough he has to do it anyway.
Taking away play time hasn't worked-he will sit there whining or crying for hours and still not get it done.

The things that have worked
1. Make it a challenge again-let her write it backwards, upside down, in colors, etc.
I even taught him the words in Spanish and let him write those. It worked for a while.

2. Have her stand up. Children who fidget while they work do better. Or do a page, run around the block...

3. Have a friend come over and do their HW together. If her friend is working she will too.

4. Have her sit with her HW and snack together. One bite, one question, etc.

Biggest help-keep your cool-I know it's hard.
Good Luck.

2 moms found this helpful

Y., I highly recommend H.E.L.P. (The Hollywood Education and Literacy Project) located here in Hollywood. It is a free program and they will truly show this 7 year old how to study successfully and how you as a tutor can help with that. I suggest scheduling a free tour to find out more.

Here's their data:

Hollywood Education Literacy Project International
6336 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood CA 90028

Life is magical when you know how to study!

With love,
L. (MAMA to 16 month old Dylan Orion.......29 September 2007) : )))

2 moms found this helpful

Wow, this is a tough situation. I would say to have confidence in yourself first. You are the adult and you are in charge. I believe in flexibility with children, but sometimes children will test their limits until they know that those limits are indeed clearly defined. Whatever routine you have set up; maybe snack first, then homework, then playtime, etc...stick to it. Write up that schedule - with no exact times on it, just what the activity is that will be done in chronological order; 1) snack 2) homework 3) play outside 4) inside play - video, etc...Explain to her in clear and in no uncertain terms that until the homework is done, there will be no other activities that will take place. Give her a warning 3-5 minutes before transitioning her from whatever activity comes before homework and when that time is up (maybe even set a timer)expect that she will do homework. No matter what she says, you need to keep telling her that "now is homework time and nothing else can be done until the homework is complete." You can acknowledge that she does not like it, she wishes she didn't have any, or whatever her reasons are for not wanting to do it, but keep coming back to "now is homework time..." No if's and's or but's...Once she knows you are serious, she will probably not be as maniuplative...though she will more than likely still try a little bit. Hey, can't blame a girl for trying :) Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I feel like a broken record. CONSEQUENCES CONSEQUENCES CONSEQUENCES!!! Talk to her parents and devise some thing that will UNREWARD her behavior. She is in control and knows it. This is not good for her or anyone else in the area.

1 mom found this helpful

Love and Logic is the key. If you are going to work with kids. Read the book. I just did a 6 week class and my homelife has changed. We are a happy family again. Basically you give her choices like snack first or homework first? Then be excited for her to make the good choices and really sad when she chooses to make bad ones. Until the homework is done all priveldges are frozen and make sure she knows that you WANT her to be able to play and have fun. You are on her side and WANT her to be happy/successful and are willing to help her do it, but rules are rules. DOn;t get angry, argue or engage. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Y. : )

This is not worth getting sick over! As a mom of 5, and a past teacher, I find that homework goes better if I give them a choice, NOT IF they will do it, but when. For instance, I say, "Do you want to watch tv for half an hour now, then do your home work, or do your home work, and watch tv later?" If the answer is "NO homework", then it is NO tv at all today.

Kids have been working for 7 hours at school, and need a bit of a break when they come home. But, they do need to get to it early. I'd recommend a snack and a half hour rest, then at the homework. Give her a choice of when, but not if. Note: She will probably try to get away with later, and then never do it. If that happens, then the answer is NOW.

Hope that helps. You have to be bigger than her, You are the adult.

Good luck.
Working at Home to Live a Healthy Life

1 mom found this helpful

Hi Y., It sounds to me like this child has had power over the adults in life since a small child. If you are interested in making money at home, you can open up a Home Dayacare, that's what I did, cause we needed the money as well, I have been doing it for almost 12 years now and I have had children in here that run all over their parents, but it does not happen here I will not allow it, in dayacre you get the kids younger, and they are teachable, school age kids are stuck in their ways, and can be very disrespectful, I love what I do, the kids love me, they know they are loves as well, so they want to behave, we have more fun when they behave and they know that. Just an idea, cause the way you are going you may drive yourself crazy, you spoke to the parents, sounds to me no discipline was given, you can only do so much. When I have had to talk to parents about something, I've given them 2 weeks to correct the problem, becasue if I having to deal with something on a daily basis, it takes quality time away from the other kids, who's parents are paying me as well. J.

1 mom found this helpful

I have to concur with the first response from Susan. I have a 3rd grader, and while it's slightly better this year, 2nd grade was a B#@%* for trying get her to do her homework! Sorry, no other way to say it. I finally decided that she needed to learn to deal with the consequences. So I took that approach of saying, "Okay, then you just have to explain to your teacher that you didn't do it." She was generally so mortified at the thought that she would just get it done. And a few times she didn't finish and she had to face the teacher. It was better than me nagging, and besides, it's HER homework, and she can learn to be responsible for the results. Of course, her parents will need to agree to this approach and a heads up to the teacher is a smart idea, too. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi Y.,

I don't know if this will help...it's just a thought. When I was a kid, I went to an after school babysitter. We had snack, then we did homework and then we played. If we didn't finish our homework, we didn't play. We sat at the kitchen table until it was done or until our parents showed up. Then, joy of joys, we got to explain to our parents WHY our homework wasn't done, which usually resulted in lost priveleges, or, in my case, another ton of chores at home.

Worked like a charm. This lady sat for 8 children, K-6, and we only got fussy once. Our parents never let us get away with stuff like that. Perhaps the little girl's parents will support you by taking away priveleges/adding chores at home?

Otherwise, I would make it clear to the parents that you will provide time, space and help and if their daughter chooses to be defiant, they'll have to deal with the consequences at school and at home. But, in your home, no homework equals sitting at the table until they arrive. Don't engage with the little princess. Be polite but ignore her. If she has to go to the bathroom, fine, when she finishes her math. Trust me, she won't wet herself; she'll do her math.

Worst case scenario, if she refuses to follow your rules and the parents don't back you, dump them as clients. You may be surprised to learn that they need you a lot more than you need the money. Making your self sick isn't worth it, I should think. Never forget that it's not your responsiblity to be her parent; it's her parents responsibility. Maybe you dumping them will be their wake up call. You can only do so much.

Otherwise, try the book Teaching with Love and Logic. Great ideas and very effective.

Good luck.
S. F.

1 mom found this helpful

You said it- "she is used to getting her way...."
That is the problem.
AND, she probably knows that eventually, everyone probably gives in to her because she wears them out.

Or, perhaps, she just needs more attention from her parents, or some kids do this because they have unmet needs. Or, maybe she has difficulty with the school work.

But I think, for this child... she is just not complying.
If that is the case. Then, she goes to school without her homework done. That's it. Then, the Teacher will question her about it. And if so, then Her Parents can explain to the Teacher about how she just will not cooperate even if they get a paid tutor to help her. THEN, perhaps the school counselor can help.

Just let her deal with the circumstances. ie: if she does not do homework = she goes to school with it incomplete.
Or, she loses some privilege or activity. AND the consequence has to be fulfilled, by both you AND her parents.

Or, has anyone just sat down with her and talked with her about it? Just try to bond with her that way? Does she have other problems besides just homework??? Has the Parents openly told you about anything else their girl has problems with?

Your "job" is to help tutor her with her homework, which you are trying. But if she has other problems, then it has to be solved via the Parents.... unless you are in charge of this child all day as in a care-taker and baby-sitter.

For me, once in a great while, my daughter would say she does not want to do homework and gets dramatic about it. Instead of 'fighting' about it with her... I just say "Okay no problem... you can explain that to Ms.Jane tomorrow... goody, now Mommy can relax. That is your decision..." and then I stand up and make myself 'busy.' I've only had to do this about 2 times...before my Daughter stopped this 'attitude.' And I don't have that problem anymore. BUT... I was indeed going to follow through with my "consequence" and was TOTALLY prepared to tell her Teacher the next day. I had no problem with that. My daughter knew it... I called her bluff. And of course I had tried other methods like incentives/reward charts/snacks etc., but it didn't work.

Lots of ideas here...
Take care and all the best,

1 mom found this helpful

ok sit down with the 7 yr old and explain your job to them, let them know you really think they are smart, and you don't want to get into trouble because you are not doing your job, ask the 7 yr old would you like to rest first eat a snack then do home work, or do it right away.. let the 7 yr old choose then right up a contract with them and make them sign their name. This way they understand they made the choice, sometimes if you split the home work up into two 20 minutes work they are more apt to doing it, because they do not have to sit there so long. If the child does not hold to the contract no tv until they do . Time outs maybe... I would give one warning only once, then the deal is off.. the more you tug the more they tug back.. no home work no play..

Have you tried some incintives like fake money for every assignment she completes and at the end of the week or every two weeks put some items on the table for her to purchase(the 99 cent store is awesome!) Or giving her a certificate of some sort with a cool pencil when she finishs a weeks worth of homework, without complaint! Good luck! By the way I am a 6th teacher!

I know that homework time is really a sore subject with most. I believe you should try to come up with some kind of rewards chart, where she earns something after completing something. First make it small goals with weekly goals. The .99 Store and Dollar Tree have great little reward items. Find her "sweet spot" and see if you can manipulate some work out of her.
Hope that works. The only other suggestion is to talk with the parents about her not finishing homework and having a talk with her teacher to have disciplinary action at school. My daughter in 2nd grade had to go to a 5th grade room to complete unfinished homework, that only happened one time. That is another solution.

I also do daycare and sometimes have kids that don't want to or have a hard time. On your ride home talk about what fun activity you guys will do after her homework is done(ask her what kinds of things she would like to do)and when you get home tell her to hurry up so she won't miss it.She should be able to sit and do the homework alone just read the instructions to her and make sure she understands and tell her to hurry up and do a good job so you guys could have fun and tell her how proud you are of her that she can do her work so well and that you will check it when she is all done or help her with whatever she needs once she has done all she can do alone. It may take a few times but don't let her see you loose it stay calm and in control. Some kids just want attention and if she gets it after homework time you both win or if she just needs extra help make sure she gets it. Best of luck to you.

Dear Y.,
Perhaps setting up some type of chart with a reward for doing homework for the week would help. Then on Friday she probably doesn't get much homework and you could reward her.
Stickers or just stars that you draw on the chart are fine. Talk to her mom about the rewards...don't want it to be food if she is overweight...maybe a trip to the park? helping make cookies or other food? large stickers she can put in a sticker book? taking her to the 99cent store and having her pick out one item?

Perhaps, Mom can be the one to reward if the chart has all stickers or stars for the week. If she misses one day because of not cooperating, perhaps it would be best to have a chart that is for 10 stars and when it is full she gets the reward. Otherwise she may not cooperate the rest of the week.

Also, make sure that having the other two children does not interfere with you having lots of time for your two sons...they need you and that is why you are a stay at home mom. I am sure that you could find some other children to care for that might be more compatible with you sons and not require you to monitor homework. Then you could do things together with them and your sons. I took care of children when my sons were small...picked up one in kindergarten and kept him until his brothers finished school but he was the same age as my son and they loved playing together. I also had one child that I started to care for during the summer and I ended up having to tell the mother that it just wasn't working. He and my other son (I have three) who were his age just didn't play together...my son tried to include him but the other child didn't want to do what my son like and my son became frustrated. You need to make sure what you are doing does not interfere with your role as mother and does not frustrate your children too. It sometimes is hard to find the right mix, but if it is upsetting you, it will be felt by your sons even if they are really little so you may have to reconsider and find other options.
God's blessings,

Is there a way you could bribe her? My 2 younger ones LOVE the library. If she liked going to the library as well, you could probably tell her you'll take her to the library to complete her homework as long as she promises to complete it all.

My 6YO is like this. My husband can get her to do whatever he wants, but she's very resistant with me. So, I have to find ways to reward her and I try to make sure they are good things like a trip to the library, not candy, etc.

Good luck!

I would talk to her parents about setting up a reward system. For example, my 10 year old son has a difficult time staying focused on his homework so i set a timer for 60 minutes. as long as the work is neat and correct, whatever time he doesn't use he gets to put toward video game time for the weekend. You could use a method like this for just about anything that this little girl likes, wants etc. Maybe she could earn tv time, playtime, a new toy, a fun snack, extra time with mom or dad at the end of the day reading a book etc.

I hear your pain. I am a teacher! My suggestion is this... come up with a contract that rewards her for accomplishments while at the same time creating consequences. However, to get her to buy into the whole thing... make her feel like it is HER idea. She can come up with her rewards (keep them reasonable and CHEAP... maybe even get the parents on board so you don't have to lose anything) and she will also come up with the consequences. Once you both set goals for her and expectations for your time she spends with you, meet with the parents to get their help.

Some ideas for rewards are...
--sticker chart
--fruit roll ups
--5 minutes to play a game she likes with you
--cool pencils
--cool erasers
Whatever... you know her better. Find out what makes her tick...

It sounds like this girl likes to battle and push boundaries. Whatever you do, don't battle back. It will just make her more defiant. Play into the sweet side of her... the "I am the cutest second grader ever" side of her. Don't kiss her you know what... just treat her with respect. She is testing you to see if she can get a rise out of you. Just don't let her see your frustration. She won't know what to do with a calm and reserved reaction. Hope this helps a little. Best of luck!

With the parents written permission (so the school will listen to you), or with the parents in person, go and talk directly to the teacher, Get the assingments in advance, and set up little fun activities for her to do first thing when she gets home that are related to the homework. Brainstorm w. T and P to see if there is a reason the child does not want to do homework (eyestrain, dyslexia, ADD), Then collaboratively make accomaodations and modifications (as they are required to do by law) so that the homework is more manageable for her. Make homework sessions short and sweet, and followed by a treat such as a nature walk, push on the swings, snack, special (short) video, etc. Not as a bribe, but as a celebration of a job well done. B.

I had the EXACT same issue. Sometimes being smarter then the child is HARD, especially when the child is accustomed to getting her way. And you are not the parent in control:)
I set a timer (ask the teacher what amount of time should be adequate if you're not sure) and get a calender and stickers. Each time she gets 5 stars for the week she gets a small reward (piece of gum, extra time for a favorite game, no clean up after snack... limitless possibilities!).
The more firm and CONSISTENT you are with the child, the easier your life will be. She will eventually understand that the rules are different in your home, and that you mean what you say. But don't cave in whatever you do! It takes time and dedication, but even the toughest of kids can be won over. She is looking for the same attention that she gets at home. Teacher her that there is a better way to get it!
I spent 10 years in childcare, but had the most challenging child I'd ever met as a next door neighbor! (We job shared and kid swapped so we both had great jobs and childcare we knew was loving and FREE) It took some doing, but it actually got to a point where mom was using some of my tricks at home (with success!). Positive attention is what all kids crave, they often just don't know how to get it so they act out to get any attention they can.
Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

Do it for her! I know it sounds crazy but it works. 2 of my step kids did the same thing. They were also very smart. I would sit down and look at their math problems and start it with the whole "Oh, that's easy the answer is 15" before you know it they are trying to get the answers. Plus it makes them feel like you are kinda on their side too. Tell them you want to get it done quick so you're going to help. "That first question is a. so mark that down. Now read me that second question...hang on let me figure this out...that one's b. What about number 3?" Before they're doing the work but they feel like you are the one who is giving them the answers! Plus the importance of homework is so the kids will learn the lessons not so they will learn how to do homework. As long as they are getting the lesson you are doing the right thing! Good luck cause I know it's hard.

Stickers, Stickers, Stickers!
You may find a variety of little stickers at a teachers' supply store like the one at Dole Cannery. (512 or so for $3-$4, etc.). Don't waste money on the big ones. Kids love the little ones just as much. You can also cut the pictures off of some of those free address labels you got in the mail.

Set benchmarks, i.e. "Finish this page(or assignment) and earn a sticker." You may choose to let the child keep the sticker on his/her folder(or shirt, hand or forehead) or make your own chart where after acquiring 10 stickers, or filling a 20 sticker page, etc., the child gets a special treat(maybe a bigger, scratch n'sniff sticker or a cookie, an extra 15 min. TV, etc.).

I've given an extra sticker on days when a child was especially cooperative. These are "extra" given at my disgression as a reward for good attitude.

Keep the rewards small and manageable. After all, you are not asking for anything extraordinary, so these are "incentives," nothing grandiose.

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