4Th Grader 3 Hours of Homework???

Updated on August 17, 2011
B.M. asks from Dallas, TX
18 answers

My child spent 3 hours finishing classwork and doing homework. She is not done yet. She was always one of the top students in public school. She is obsessed with getting everything perfect because she says if someone doesn't do all the work or someone does poorly, the class loses a reward. The goal is teamwork. For an hour she has been stuck on one problem. She won't move on. She won't accept us showing her how because she thinks the teacher said something else. The kids will be mad at her if she costs them the reward. Any advice?

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So What Happened?

Every single child had problems and took at least 2 hours. It is such a relief to know it is not my child only. One of the moms went straight to the principal and reported the problem before school. I waited until I calmed down then asked the teacher about the points. It is a punishment for those who don't work and a reward for those who do. Grades are not tied together, but each "team" is affected by member's choices. If a doesn't do homework, the whole team loses points. I HATE THAT but my child will do the work so I am trying to be calm and positive. She can't go back where she was bullied so this needs to work.

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answers from Phoenix on

ridiculous ! talk to the teacher, get a new teacher, ugh..... that is too much for a child of that age. Should not be that way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

What a diligent and hardworking little girl!
Advice her to switch to something else for a while and then come back to that problem - she is just having a mental freeze by working on it too long.
She will get it!

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answers from Chicago on

Please talk to the teacher. A child should spend no more than ten minutes per grade level on homework, so 30 minutes for your child. As a teacher, I understand the purpose of whole class rewards, but clearly your daughter is afraid to let everyone else down and this can have negative effects as you've already seen. Let the teacher know what happened tonight, especially the part about your daughter not wanting help.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I am going to guess something was lost in translation with your daughter..

She may be a perfectionist, but she is going to have to learn that NO one is perfect and that is ok..

We had to a have teacher explain to our daughter about being perfect and also going way over expectations.. It helped tremendously..

also be sure to model what it is like to make a mistake, to mess up, to forget.. Show that it happens and the world does not end.. We just learn and move along.

It takes a stronger person to admit they do not know and ask for help.. than to struggle and refuse to ask..

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would do one of three things. I'd email the teacher and ask what she said.
OR explain that a teacher would never say that and if they did they are wrong to do that because in real life you DO get help or look up an answer online. In real life you are never isolated and told you cannot have help. That is not real world preparation.
OR I'd let your kid do her thing. She must learn consequences and if she wants to torture herself and the class loses a reward bc she refused to ask for help then the best way to learn that is not by being told but to experience it in all its excruciating horribleness. Better to learn this stuff when they are young and the consequences are small than later when they are much bigger.
It's hard to let them fail but it helps them succeed later on.
Above all though, sounds like you need to talk to the teacher regardless of how you handle it tonight. Seems like your child is taking on a lot of anxiety based on how she perceived what the teacher said. Get the facts for future reference.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Being the "perfectionist" she is... is why she takes a long time.

Now, a Teacher, does need to see the mistakes in homework, because it serves a purpose: that being, so that the Teacher knows what areas a child needs work on... and as a class as a whole.

Now, if your daughter's "Perfectionism"... is, 'handicapping' her, then that needs to be looked into.
Nothing is wrong with being a perfectionist... but, it becomes a problem if it then, interferes with NORMAL everyday life and activities. Or becomes, obsessive.

Many people may consider themselves perfectionists... but they are very adaptable and hard working. And also realize that they cannot control everything.

Now, my daughter is in 4th Grade now. She takes about 2 hours, to do homework. At 4th Grade, the homework and work, becomes more complex. It is considered, "upper grade" work. Not "primary school" work or grade level.
It ramps up, in 4th grade.

IF your daughter is having problems not understanding things, she NEEDS to be able to SAY that, to you or the Teacher. But if she has problems 'admitting' she is unable to understand things, then, that WILL impede her and slow her down... not enable, her.

Now, I would just tell your daughter to skip the problem.
AND to tell the teacher she did not understand, nor 'remember' how the teacher said to do it.
OR you can let the teacher know, as a Head's up.
I have done that too.
My Daughter's 4th grade Teacher, says the kids need to do their own homework... BUT, she expects, Parents to look, over things so they know what is going on with their child... AND to tell her, IF there are any problems or difficulty.
She expects, parents to work hand in hand, with her... and the child.
Because, not all kids will tell a Teacher anything. Some kids will not ever... tell the Teacher anything. So then, the parents becomes the child's spokesperson. And the Teacher needs to know.... what is going on.
That is MY daughter's Teacher's.... instruction, to us, the parents.

NOW.... your daughter is also dealing with the 'reward' for her table or class group. If one child does not do their assignment, then yes, the whole table or class group will not get a reward. Some classes, are this way.
BUT... it then ALSO creates... OSTRACIZING OF A CHILD. So... you NEED to speak to her Teacher.
And explain.. that your daughter is getting SOOOOOOO stressed out... about this expectation.

I would, speak to the Teacher. Because... your daughter is getting EMOTIONAL problems from it and stress and anxiety. And it is paralyzing, her. And she does not speak up, for herself.

Teachers... NEED to know these things.
So that they can ALSO analyze their class and the students, per what is or is not, working.

My daughter in 4th grade, has a lot of homework. This is a public school. It is NOT... 10 minutes per grade level of homework. Not at all. It is a lot more, than that.
Today, she had for homework: Study for a Math test, additional Math equations for 2 pages, A science chapter and lesson/exercises, reading, and a story to write.

Bottom line is: you NEED to talk to the teacher. MANY Teacher's also have e-mail and they regularly communicate this way.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

This is hard and I remember it too with my son who is now going into 5th grade. PRAISE her, tell her you are so proud of her determination and hard efforts to figure it out. Remind her gently she will get stuck and that is were the "team" work part comes in. She will make a wonderful adult. If she is passionate about her studies she will go to a great collage and be something great in her career path.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Talk with the teacher. I wonder if something wasn't a bit lost in translation. I think the teacher needs to clarify about her expectations, so that your daughter isn't afraid of her work like this!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Talk to the teacher and get informed yourself, then explain to your child what this is all about. She is a great student, do not let her stop loving to learn, she may burn out and lose her interest in school. Tell her that it is OK to work hard for a reward or a goal, but it is better to work hard for her to learn more and gain knowledge. Tell her that she must do her part, and let other kids to do theirs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Parent/Teacher/Sutdent conference time. And I highly doubt that your child is the only hold-up in the entire class (so begins the drama).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I agree with Melissa, go talk to the teacher!! That way, you can also get a quick lesson on how the teacher wants things done, so you can guide your child. Maybe your daughter would feel better about you helping her, if she knows you spoke to the teacher and know how she wants it done. I would nip this in the bud quick, since school just started, you don't want this to get any worse!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lafayette on

Talk to the teacher! ten minutes of homework per grade is plenty...if she is consistently getting more than 45 minutes, the teacher needs to know that too. By the way, there is no research proving ANY benefit to homework and TONS that point to the benefits of exercise and sleep, and dinner with the family, and doing chores, ALL THINGS THAT ARE LOST IF SHE IS BURIED IN HOMEWORK. I am in caps because I do feel very strongly about this. good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I agree with Melissa.
I'm guessing this fits her personality, though? Maybe you'll need to have a discussion with her about the purpose of homework and how when she's this tired and frustrated no learning is happening and it's okay to put it aside. Or can she call a friend?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The post left me a little confused. It sounded at first as if the teacher were giving them three hours' worth of homework, but when I read it more closely, it seems the issue is your daughter's wanting it all to be perfect, plus the fact she is completing classwork at home (which should be completed in class). If the issue is the sheer volume of homework: No kid should have that much homework in fourth grade. My daughter was in an "advanced academics" program last year in fourth and many parents were worried there would be tons of homework and there wasn't; the teachers emphasized that a kid should spend about half an hour on homework on average days, and at other times there might be longer-term projects but those could be spread out so a child shouldn't have to spend hours and hours on one night getting things done -- unless the child procrastinated so badly that four weeks of work time ended up being done the night before a project was due. But that's not your child's case here.

I think the teacher is wrong to do this "everyone gets a reward if everyone does homework this way" approach. That puts a ton of pressure on the kids and a good student and conscientious child like yours really gets wound up by it. If this was a one-time bad night for homework, I might let it go. But if this is a regular practice the teacher uses throughout the year, I would talk with the teacher and let her know that your child reacts by going into perfectionist mode which leads to fear that she will cost the class a reward. If it's a regular technique with this teacher and she won't budge, you'll have to talk with your daughter about how doing her best is not the same as getting every single answer absolutely perfect. The purpose of homework is the learning and the practice, not perfection. The mistakes show her and the teacher where they need to do more work, so the mistakes are beneficial -- IF the teacher treats them as such.

It sounds like your child is in a year-round school or a private school--?? You might look into whether the school's whole "culture" is like this, with a lot of pressure on individual kids. If you think that attitude goes on throughout the classes and grades, you might want to think harder about the school overall. But if this truly was one tough night, when she couldn't focus, and not the norm for many nights -- then I'd just talk to her about how the reward thing is something she needs to put aside from her mind. Not easily done, I know.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

My oldest grandson was in school here when he was in 4th grade. Every day he brought home his backpack with hours of homework in it. It was so heavy I could barely lift it. I told his teacher that she had him for 8 hours a day and at 9-10 years old he was too young to be "in school" or doing school work for 12-13 hours per day.

I told her that I would not comply. I was not going to make this child sit at school ALL DAY then come home and have no life, no playtime, no activity outside, no sports, nothing but her school work. I refused. He did go to live with his mom for a while then went back to a foster home but still. My goodness, that was way too much.

My 2nd grader brought home her letter from her teacher last Friday and it said she would have daily homework. I thought, here we go again.

I got her first assignment and it was a simple worksheet with a list of her spelling words. It took her about 5-8 minutes.

She had to circle short A words, like cat, back, hat, etc....and then count them out and write all ten of them that were in the paragraph on the back of the paper. That was all.

Then she brought home another simple worksheet today that had her filling in the correct word in a sentence with a blank in it, like "John wore his ______ to the baseball game. James used his ______ to catch the fly ball at the game today". Very easy and simple. I am thankful it is not more.

She has class at the gym/dance studio every day M-Th and I cannot take off work and make her miss classes to do homework. It won't happen in my home, she needs to be a well rounded person.

Another thing is if your child is going to obsess on a problem and not be able to go on then she may need to have her authority figure (the teacher) stress to her that if she gets stuck on a problem she has to move on and finish the rest then come back for a while. If she still can't get past it and is obsessing over it then you may need to take the initiative and put a time limit on her homework. Once that time limit is up she has to stop and put her backpack in the car.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have told my kids before that they are to obey the teacher and respect the teacher, but mommy is still ULTIMATELY the one in charge. If there is a problem with the teacher that they think is unfair, they need to talk to me about it so we can get it worked out. Don't know if you've had curriculum night yet, but that is always my chance to go back and tell the kids. I listened to your teacher too, and it IS ok for me to help you with a problem. Not to solve it for you, but to help you work it through. If they are still unsure, tell them to ask thier teacher and you can even walk in with them the next morning and tell the teacher there was a discussion at your house about what type of help with homework was OK so the kid can hear it from the teacher too. I also ALWAYS encourage them to move on past a problem that is hard and go back to it. It may make since once they've worked some of the other problems. My guess is the "teamwork" thing is to encourage those students that don't care about doing their homework to get it done, however, your child sounds like one of mine - a perfectionist that hates to do anything against the "rules" and it's actually going to be more of a hinderance to HER style of doing things.

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answers from Washington DC on

"But Mrs. Andersen said DO IT THIS WAY!!!"
I remember those days well.
OUr family joke when one of the kids say this is to bow with hands clasped in prayer and say
"All hail Mrs. Andersen."

Give her a break, tell her take five and then let her go back at it. She needs to do something else to get her mind off it. And let her know that is completely OK, everyone gets stuck and there are moe ways to do the problem.
And very soon I would have a meeting with the teacher.



answers from Dallas on

I would verify with the teacher exactly how this "reward" system is supposed to work. Clarification is the key to communication.

On the part of your daughter thinking your answer is wrong as opposed to what the teacher said, I had the same problem. My very competitive, super smart, anal (2nd grade) daughter was so sure a problem was correct that she would not change it. I made her change it and because of that she was very upset with me, but did what I said. The next day I asked her what the correct answer was and she looked at me and smiled and said, "you were right mommy, I'm sorry I acted so ugly, thank you". On the flip side of that she loves getting A's and I know would have been more upset if she'd gotten it wrong. My (4th grader) other daughter swore up and down that was how the teacher said do it, and I told her to re look at it, I didn't think it was correct. I told her to write the "other" (my) answer next to it and ask the teacher before she turned the paper in, to see which answer was correct. She agreed to that and sure enough I was right. I just told her to keep an open mind and there are sometimes different ways to the same answer. I will say she was very adamant that, it wasn't how the teacher said do it. Come to find out my daughter had missed a step in working the problem and had not realized it. She too apologized and we hugged about it.

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