Homework Blues

Updated on January 30, 2008
C.M. asks from Gainesville, FL
10 answers

How do I get my son to want to do his homework and do it well? I struggle with him and he gripes the whole time! He barely does 5 problems and he thinks he did the impossible! He is very bright and doing the work is not hard for him. Today he has a few journal pages to finish before school (a few lines per picture). I get so frustrated when he gripes that I tell him to wait for his dad because I can not stand all of the complaining. He is in first grade. Any help would be appreciated.

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answers from Ocala on

Hello Marta,

I am a mother of 3 as well. Ages 7,5, and 2.

My daughter that is 7 is in 2nd Grade, I have this same PROBLEM as you do. She will fight me until the end.
I used to get mad and raise my voice at her but then i just can't handle that anymore. So i decieded to stop the getting upset part and now what i do is i tell her that if she gets it done quickly that she can have a snack that she really loves ( for example she loves honey buns ) and if that does not work then i turn to candy. :) I know that it is not the best thing to do , but i need her to get her work done and for right now this is what works for us.

She gets her work done
+ She makes her teacher and myself happy

she gets what she wants and
passes 2nd grade
and all is quite. :)

I wish that i had the golden answer to your problem, but i don't. I wish you the best and good luck.

From one mother to another.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on


You tell him that if he wants to do xyz then he has to do so many problems. Break it down into small bite sized pieces so to speak until it gets done.
Sit him with his homework and tell him he has to do say 5 problems then he can get up and do what it is that he wants. But remind him that it all has to get done by whatever time and that he can't blow it off all day.
After sitting him down leave the room, or leave the area so he can't really see you but you can see him if he gets up. That way if he tries to sneak away you are there to tell him to get back in his seat. And just be matter of frank with him about it and you don't have to raise your voice in fact the more calm you can be about it the more unsure he'll be about your reaction and do it because he doesn't know what you are going to do next.
This is what I have to do with my Pre K student who has homework and says he has to be in the mood to do it.
Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

Sometimes kids brains need to rest after school. When he gets home let him pick something to do that does not involve words, ie. paint, draw, use clay or playdough, listen to music, play an instrument, play outside, build something. You can write all these ideas down on little slips of paper, and put them in a jar. Everyday, he gets to pick one out of the jar. The deal is he gets to do one for 30 min and then do his work. Make sure you display his "fun" work in your house, as well as show it to his dad. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fort Myers on

We went through this with our now 2nd grader. We finally made a rule that he cannot go out to play with his friends until his homework is done. Let me tell you he would get right on it because his friends would be knocking at the door. He also tried to rush through it a few times and his handwriting was horrible. My husband would go over it at night and make him redo it if he could not read it. So now I just tell him, don't forget that Dad will look at it and he makes an effort to be neat.



answers from Melbourne on

This is a long post but please read it, I have several ideas that may help. I don't know the exact problem your son is having with the work, so I just tried to go over several possibilities. One, I wonder if your son is having trouble in an area that makes homework discouraging, aggravating, boring, etc. A child can be very intelligent yet still have trouble in some areas. In fact, some children can be considered gifted, while still having a learning disability in other areas. Even if it is much more minor than this, that could make all the difference for the child's reaction to his work. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and most people don't deal with those weaknesses very well. Let's say he's pretty smart, but has trouble with something like writing, putting his thoughts together on paper, holding his pencil comfortably, or any other number of things. Even something that seems very minor to us may be very frustrating to a young child. A child who is usually very smart may react much like your son. This does not always mean he just doesn't want to do the work, it could bother him to have such problems, to feel so frustrated, and thereby make him feel like he'd rather not try because it's just so frustrating. In that case it's probably best to find out what his weaknesses are and try to make some accommodations, just help to work through or limit those issues.

Another issue that is far different from the above could also be a factor for a smart child that feels the work is boring, stupid, or un-challenging. It's easy for us to say we should just make him deal with it, but many intelligent kids fall behind when they are not properly challenged, or the work is just boring. To be very honest, almost any child will have trouble pushing through work they see as boring, and at six it is probably a bad idea to force the issue. He is not at that age yet, maybe in a year or two that would be ok. Because he will eventually have to learn to do things he doesn't want to, no matter how boring or difficult they may be for him. Until then, it would probably be easier on everyone, and better for the child to make some minor adjustments to his work. Is it boring to him? Can you somehow make it more interesting without changing the bulk of the assignment too much? Is it un-challenging to him? Could you up the challenge a bit so it is more challenging, again without changing the bulk of the assignment? Just remember it's ok to challenge the child, but don't make it so challenging that it is extremely difficult, that will just discourage the child. Does the child quickly get tired of working on it? Could you allow a short break, a breather? Maybe a small snack, a bit of play outside, time to just sit and talk or rest. Small little breaks are very good at "recharging our batteries," whether you are young or old, it shouldn't really matter. Sometimes when we get stuck it is better to take a step back, walk away, take a break, stop thinking about it, and come back to the work later. It's also a good idea not to start the work really late, then the child will just be too tired to work productively and he will certainly let you know that.

Is the child having trouble with something in the assignment as I suggested in the first paragraph? In that case, I advise you to speak with the teacher about your concerns, take time to brainstorm ideas together, and come up with some things to help the child work through his difficulties, thereby making the work more manageable for him and making him more willing to put forth the needed effort. Both the teacher and parents discuss keeping an eye out for areas he may be struggling in, so that you can collaborate later and find more ways to help the child work through these issues. Also keep in touch concerning what seems to be working, this helps to keep everyone on the same page.

The best thing I can suggest is for you to be very observant. Try to figure out what issues are contributing to his reaction to the work. Then try to find ways to deal with those issues. Keep an open dialog with the teacher and anyone else that works with the child and have everyone try to concentrate on ways to deal with those issues. Some teachers are willing to make small adjustments to the assignments or have the parent make small adjustments if it doesn't dramatically interfere or change the bulk of the assignment. Some don't, just deal with that as best you can if it is the case, and try not to get too upset about it.

One more thing, if the child just wants something more interesting or fun then what is being assigned, try to think of simple ways you can make this work more entertaining or interesting. Contrary to the belief of some, it is OK for work to be fun and interesting. It can even be beneficial, because most children learn far more and far better when the work is memorable, interesting, and or fun. They also tend to be much less resistant to doing the work if it keeps them captivated. Also let the child give input too, he may have good ideas from his own perspective, he may pin point something that hasn't been considered, he may come up with things he finds more enjoyable, and he will probably feel much better about himself if his ideas and input are meaningfully included.



answers from Orlando on

HI Marta,
Most kids go through it...its called testing boundaries...what mom and dad will allow and won't allow. Set the tone and standard...he can whine and complain all he wants...but no "extras"....tv, outside play, snacks,etc...until all of it is finished. Let him know that whining is not acceptable and set consequences and follow through immediately until he "gets it"! No one wants to be around or hear whining...so you must teach behaviour. I have four boys and you have to set the tone and stick to it or they will rule the roost 100% of the time....no one loves homework or work in general...but attitude is everything. teach it and stick to the consequences if he doesnt change!



answers from Naples on

Wow i thought i was having bad my 9 year old he does alot like your little guy he started in frist grade and he got held bac k to frist again and he still does it in 2nd grade it so hard to get him to do his homework too ... we sit there from 3:30 to 5:30 or longer try to get him to get his home work done... i hope you find help with this im try to get help for my oldest son i no he smart and he does it too in school too ... it is hard when im try to do it with to boys and have a 2 years old yelling for me ... my 6 year old he will do his work it just my oldest ...

M. S



answers from Orlando on

I definitely agree that the students need to have some time when they get home to let off steam with a physical activity and to eat a snack. Their brains will work much better getting the oxygen to them through exercise. Many times homework can be done in the car on the way home. If the problems can be done as oral recitation, work on them orally on the way home. Keep the weekly spelling lists above the sun visor and practice them on the way to school. For the journal exercises, discuss the ideas first, before writing the response. Check to make sure your student has the proper pencil grip. If he doesn't, he may not enjoy writing, because it may hurt to do a lot of it. His muscles may not be developing properly to strengthen his hands and fingers. Sometimes trying different pencil grips can help. Many times using a chalkboard, a whiteboard, or even different colored pencils or crayons can add variety to homework. The teacher may even let you copy what he writes on the whiteboard for his answers. Take a picture of the whiteboard and e-mail it to her. Check with his teacher and see whether or not he excels in writing tasks at school. She may accept homework done in colored pencils, if you let her know it is taking a lot of time to accomplish tasks that he knows. Many students are more challenges by getting information out their hand than out their mouth. If you take the time to talk first, then write, it will help the thoughts flow better on to the paper. Just for fun say we will write our nouns in blue, our verbs in red and our adjectives in yellow in each sentence in the journal. Allow him to draw a picture or color a picture for the sentence he creates. You can categorize spelling words by rules, beginning sounds, ending sound, rules and word types by using different colors. In math you can use one color for the tens and one color for the ones column in column addition problems. Use colors for odds and evens and sequencing problems. I'm not sure of which types of problems he was completing, but doing some of this could lessen the monotony of writing a concept that he already understand up in his head! Most homework can be done on the run or through games.Let me know if you need more ideas.



answers from Orlando on

Hi Marta

Just a thought or two. Each child learns and is driven by different things. My son enjoyed playing games and was a hands on kind of child. So, we played games to get the ideas across. It worked great! At this age, hi ho cherrio for math and chutes and ladders for whatever else you're teaching.

Maybe your son likes computer stuff better, try some of the computer programs by learning company, jumpstart, they have it for each grade.

Maybe reading is the key. Find out what kind of learner he is and you'll be halfway there.

At 5, learning should be great fun! And it should be great fun for you too!

I homeschool my son and it has been such a joy! He is also a fast learner but tries to feign that he's not able as well, but does well. I still have challenges with him, but when he finds things he is interested in, he learns quickly and enjoys teaching others what he knows.
Take care and enjoy your children learning in their different ways.



answers from Orlando on

We use a timer. After dinner my son has to do 40 minutes worth of homework (he's in the fourth grade). He has a timer that he sets. If he takes a break he stops the timer and then starts it again. If he doesn't have 40 minutes worth of homework he can get do extra math problems or he can read, but he has to do something for 40 minutes. There is no negotiating. If you give in just once you reinforce the whining and the tantrums enough to keep the negative behavior going for a long time. My son did whine at first but now he knows that this is the way it is and he won't be able to get out of it. I think he appreciates the routine. After homework is free time and he can do whatever he wants 'til bedtime.

For a first grader you may want to limit it to 20 minutes a night and add more time as he moves up in school.

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