Seeking Help from Any Mom Regarding Homework

Updated on September 04, 2008
K.M. asks from Sacramento, CA
31 answers

My 9-year old & I had a homework hell week. The transition from the coddled 3rd grade to "you are responsible for everything" 4th grade has been the worst homework experience I've ever had -- including my own when I went to school. The teacher has not been the most organized in her weekly plan and my daughter is overwhelmed with left-over work from school on top of her homework, leaving us with two to three hours a night working on problems. According to my daughter, she's not finishing her daily schoolwork for two reasons: She stresses out over the fact the teacher gives them a time limit to complete a whole lot of problems; and the kids around her talk a lot.

We both have been so stressed out from this mess that we both have been crying. The teacher seems oblivious to the fact that her students are just kids and need time to play after school, as well. Her school ends at 4:00, I pick her up from day care between 5:00-5:30 and then its dinner, schoolwork, shower and bed. Does anyone have any solutions that might help us/her manage our time better and not be so stressed?

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone who has responded. I no longer feel so all alone out here!

Just to let you know, I received a lot of great advice and here's what's happened to date...

I wrote a note to the teacher letting her know 2+ hours of homework is too much for my daughter and I. I asked the teacher to call me. She didn't BUT she wrote a note to me stating that she talked to my daughter and found out the kids around her are talking too much and she'll move my daughter today.

The teacher is very much aware that my daughter understands the assignments and is quite capable of completing the work; however, I think (as was mentioned in one of the responses) the time limit thing is stressing her. Also, she had oooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeee llllllaaaaaaaasssssssstttttt assignment that needed to be done over the weekend and I DID divide it into chunks. When my daughter saw how fast she could get it done, she just finished it in no time at all.

So, with all of these other tactics taken, we'll see what happens from here on out. I beleive tomorrow night is "Back-to-School" night, I'll be touching bases with the teacher then.

Again, thank you all!!! I really much appreciate it!!

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J.M.

answers from Fresno on

The only thing I can think of is to do the home work after dinner, but try to make it fun. I know the kids now get a tremendous amount of homework. Maybe you can talk to the teacher about it and if she doesn't help you out you could talk to the principle. Have you talked to other parents in the class? Are they having the same problems. Maybe you could get together with a few of them and come up with a solution.

Good luck
J.

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J.P.

answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like you need to have a meeting with the teacher. I would include the principal too. Without some sort of resolution this could be the start of a down hill spiral. Also you should see if she can start doing some of her homework at daycare, it could help to start earlier when she is not so tired. Good luck.

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J.H.

answers from Sacramento on

Didn't read the suggestions, but mine is:

1. After school while you're preparing dinner she sits at the counter or table nearby you and finishes incomplete work from the day.

2. Go to bed a little earlier and wake up earlier in the morning to finish homework before going to school that morning.

3. Ask the teacher to modify homework only for her to complete every other problem until she gets into the swing of things.

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A.A.

answers from San Francisco on

I can COMPLETELY relate to your experience. My kids had the same problem and what we worked out with the teacher was to do at least half of the homework given (evens or odds), more if there was more time. I also was very involved with watching over getting the homework done there was no worry of slacking off.

Another tactic to ease some of the pressure is to have her do it in bite size chunks and give her a 5 - 10 minute break after each chunk. Regular weekly or daily incentives for good work done are helpful as well. We had a "Reward Wheel" with co-created rewards on it that the girls could earn each week if they had done well with their homework.

One last tidbit, my daughters also had a hard time with staying focused in class. I would remind my girls that the more they got done in class, the less they had to do at home and the more play time they would have. The unfortunate reality in public schools is that they are struggling to maintain order and uphold "No Child Left Behind" mandates with not nearly enough resources to do it with. My girls are now in private school as a result.

2 - 3 hours of homework is WAY TOO much time for her. I'm sure if you talked to the teacher she would agree and she should be able to work with you on finding some creative solutions.

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V.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi K., I would like to invite you and your daughter to visit a website offering 24/7 online, on demand tutoring for grades 4th through 12th. I wish I had know about this when my kids were in middle and high school. Whether it is homework help, or studying for tests, they are there to assist your daughter to get the job done with less stress for all. Working with a tutor online will help your daughter to feel more confident that homework time need not be overwhelming when there is a tutor to help. She can try a 25 minute FREE tutoring session to begin to see how it can work for her, as an additional resource to yourself and her teacher. Check the testimonials on the site to see how it has helped other students. It is very empowering for a student to do well at homework time and well in school overall. May you and your family be well and blessed. :o)
Please visit: www.tutor.com Enter Free Code: MGVIP50F

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V.T.

answers from Redding on

Changes in state and federal performance standards for schools have put undue stress on teachers and administrators to drive achievement in students. However, many studies have been done on the subject of "how much is too much" homework (here's a link to a great one that you might share with your daughter's teacher and school principal: http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/2006/03/homework.html). Essentially, the most common recommendation is the 10-minute rule: 10 minutes of homework per grade, so in 4th grade your daughter should be doing no more than 40-minutes of homework.

As far as the disruption in the class goes, I would certainly discuss it with the teacher. Part of her role is to maintain a classroom environment that is conducive to learning. Perhaps she can separate the kids who are causing the disruption or move your daughter to another work space that affords her less distraction from the other kids.

Don't let it slide, though ... this is the time that your daughter is really getting her basic educational foundation. The more frustrated she gets the less excited she will be about continuing her educational path.

Good luck!

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P.B.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi K.,
Sorry to hear this is such a trying time. It is a big change from 3rd to 4th grade, also from 5th to 6th. My daughter is now a freshman in High School and pretty much skating through school right now. But I remember how difficult it was to transition from grade to grade.

Sounds like you need to speak to the teacher and then the principal, if the first option doesn't help. Also, ask about tutoring after school on the school grounds for areas she has difficulty with. As PTA Secretary I would think you might get a better response than some parents. I volunteered every week, several times a week in class and in the office at my daughter's Elementary School and it really helped when I had a problem. Use your clout if you have to. I was 37 when my only baby was born, so we "older" mom's have to stick together! Hope this helps!

Patti b

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A.A.

answers from San Francisco on

I have a 9-year old in the Cupertino school system and the first day of school the principal shared his belief in as little homework as possible. He said to talk to him directly if a teacher is giving a good amount. Assuming you've ruled out learning disabilities I would address this with the teacher and then the principal if it's not a universal approach as an entire school. I worked at a school with certain teachers that were giving hours of homework. After parents shared their concerns with the principal he made sure to implement a new policy with all teachers. Good luck!

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M.H.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi K.-
Have you discussed this with her teacher yet? If not, you really need to. Maybe if her teacher is aware of it, she can help in some way. I know that my daughter's (she's in 2nd grade) teachers have always told us parents to be sure to let them know if the workload is too much for our children - that they need to know that sort of information. One thing she (the teacher) could do right away is make sure the kids in class quiet down during class work time. Any way, I really do think it's very important that you discuss this with her teacher. There is no reason you and your dauhter should have to stress so much over this. I'm sure there will be a solution if you work with your daughter and her teacher. Good luck.

M.

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J.I.

answers from Bakersfield on

I think this is a good teaching opportunity for you to show your daughter what to do when life does this to us... and keep in mind that the transition to being responsible is a gradual one...so it is okay for you to help her at this time. Not help her do her homework, but help her manage it. Meet with her and the teacher. Request a different seat, wherever your daughter has worked best in the past. Front row, side, wherever. Tell the teacher what you wrote in your letter here. Try that with better home management. No more crying! This teaches her that all is out of your control. (Just trying to emphasize that you have choices.) At home, make a special homework zone. A time and place that you do bills, write letters, etc. and she does her homework. Teach her to do it in pieces, with rewards half way through. Give a time limit to try this, then if there is no improvement, transfer her to another class. Ask the vice principal for advice or someone else at school if you need to. But definitely the teacher first. You will do fine together.

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S.E.

answers from San Francisco on

I'm a fourth grade teacher and it is the age of independence, but not all at once. Children grow into it. Some earlier than others.

If I were your child's teacher, I would want to hear for your child about what is happening and work with her to make a plan. If she told me her seat mates were talking all the time, I'd ask her where she thought a better seat might be and see I agreed.

I would also ask that we try the seat change before modifying homework. If the seat change didn't improve it enough, I'd offer that her work can come in on Monday, not Friday, so she could have the weekend to do some work. I would help her prioritize what was most important to have done during the week.

If success was not yet there, I'd cut down the amount of work. For example, if she showed she had mastery of a math concept after completing 10 of the 30 problems given, I'd ask her to do 10. (In my class, the children complete as much as they feel they need to complete to show mastery.....95% or greater on a unit test. No mastery=go back do all the work. They quickly become proficient at doing what they need to do and a little more just to be sure. Some check in with me after 4 or 5 problems to show me they get it and then move on to the next concept.)

I say your daughter needs to talk to the teacher. Help her create a list of talking points listed in order of importance. If homework wouldn't be a problem if there wasn't classwork on top of it, have her say so.

Good luck,
Stephanie

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C.M.

answers from Chico on

First, your daughter needs to ask to have her seat moved or let the teacher know that the kids around her are being disruptive by talking and she cannot complete her work.

Second, you need to speak with the teacher. A 4th grader should be able to finish schoolwork at school and homework should only be about 30 min. to 1 hour per night with 20-30 min. reading. Please communicate with your daughter's teacher to find out what is going on. If your daughter is having problems with the work, you need to help her before she gets too stressed and falls behind. If the teacher's expectations seem unreasonable, you may want to switch her teacher. Perhaps the teacher isn't aware of how long the homework is taking?

Is your daughter using a daily planner to write down unfinished work and homework daily? That helps you to see what she has to do and what she's not completing at school.

I prefer to have my children do homework at home where I can be nearby to assist. However, I have found that if my 4th grader waits until 5:30-6pm, he is has problems focusing because he is tired. He does most of his homework at after school program and when we get home I check it, have him make corrections or help him with problems he didn't understand and initial off on his daily planner. I also require him to do his reading time at home 2-3x per week. If he does it at after school program, the coordinators sign off on the planner next to reading and I ask him about what he read.

Ask your daycare if they will sit your daughter down for 30-45 min. after about 15 min. of play time to complete some of her homework or at least the schoolwork she did not complete to reduce the time spent doing homework at home. Give her another 15 min. break when you get home from daycare then have her work on completing homework in the kitchen while you make dinner. If she has not completed the work in this amount of time, you really need to speak to the teacher about his/her expectations. More than 1 hour of homework at this age seems to be too much in my opinion.

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J.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I wish I could help you more. I actually offer tutoring services for 4th grade and up. I taught 4th grade and I can tell you that it does get better. Make sure that she has a student planner and an organizer. She gets done what she can get done in class, and yes, the rest comes home for homework. Your daughter will adjust, but if you feel that the teacher isn't organized based on what you're seeing... ask to volunteer in the classroom so that you can see firsthand. Have your daughter plan out her day just like we do as adults.

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H.D.

answers from San Francisco on

This is the time to talk to the teacher...not to accuse her of over working your child but to ask HER how your daughter can best manage her time/work. Explain your daughter's concerns. Is your daughter not understanding the assignments? Can she do undone work during another time at school? Is this a young teacher that really doesn't have control? Maybe this is a discussion you should be having with her and the principal. Talk to other moms that have kids in your daughters class, maybe they are having the same issues, and if they aren't why is it so difficult for your child?
Sometimes dealing with just your own child doesn't give you the whole picture accurately. All the more reason to try and talk to the teacher.
Give your daughter time to relax after school, even if it is only half an hour. Eat dinner TOGETHER, not in front of the TV or rushed. It is amazing how much kids get out of that. I asked my 20 year old what her favorite memory was about growing up and her answer was, "having sit down dinners with my family." My heart goes out to you, try to be patient. *HUG*

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K.W.

answers from San Francisco on

K.,
I know what you are going through. I remember when my son was at his last school, there were one or more teachers that were giving so much homework that everyone hated nighttime and had a lot of complaints. Some of the moms went to the school district and found that they had a written down amount of time that each grade should have for homework in a given night and the parents would do it for that amount of time and then send their kids to school without the work done and said "we spent 1 1/2 hours on this homework and this is what got done" After speaking with the principal and the school district about it and taking a stand, they ended up changing the homework amount. I think they there just isn't enough time in the day to teach 20-30 kids and they feel the need to send more stuff home, I wish it could be changed.

Good Luck,
K.

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V.W.

answers from San Francisco on

You need to meet with the teacher ASAP!!!!!

Explain to the teacher about the disruptive classmates sitting around your daughter and tell the teacher you would like her moved.

Ask the teacher how much homework is expected per night ie; 20 min, 1hour. Tell the teacher you will have your daughter complete that amount of homework for the next 2 weeks so that the teacher can get a sense of what she is reasonably capable of doing in that time frame.

Good Luck! I am a mom of 5 and a teachers assistant, so feel free to ask me what to do if this doesn't help within a week or so. Crying over homework is detrimental to learning and the teacher should be empathetic

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J.K.

answers from Fresno on

Things are way different from when we were in school and there are alot more requirements of the teachers and kids. You should either request that she works on homework at daycare or put her in the afterschool program at school so she can get it done leaving you time together in the evening.

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P.W.

answers from San Francisco on

My opinion in hindsight after dealing with homework problems in elementary school:

There should not be a ton of homework in elementary school. Learning should be fun, not something that turns them off school and destroys their family life because of lack of time and battling. I would switch her to a school that does not give so much homework at that age, maybe a charter school. Unless you love your school, you should consider it.

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P.F.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't have children of my own yet, but have had quite a few in my 4th and 5th classroom which gave me the benefit of seeing how so many families manage busy lives while staying focused on what matters: family! I hope you'll find something here that's helpful!

It's a bit long, but so many things popped in my head, I wanted to at least list a few, especially as I don't know your child. You may be doing many of these things already, but I chose to be redundant over leaving holes. :)

I framed ideas within personal, classroom, and school levels as you're part of many communities.

We want children to stretch because it's through this that learning and growth occur, but don't want then to stretch so much that it creates anxiety!

PERSONAL LEVEL
Framing homework time as a shared time to tackle a thorny but do-able problem can help shake up patterns: "We can do this!" This sounds corny, but really holds true. Even if you don't feel so confident inside, it let's your daughter know that regardless of where you both are on the road to the solution, you're at least on the road and moving toward a solution together.

Many daycares have a homework time set aside, during which every child needs to be quietly engaged in homework. Younger children without homework play quietly, idealy in another room so it's less distracting. If a child is done with his/her assignments, the child draws/writes/reads at his/her place so that the atmosphere of productive working is maintained. Perhaps your daycare has something like this?

Make mental or written notes of what happens during homework time so that what is making it difficult can be teased out:
- things bog down when it's (math, reading, etc.) time
- certain time in evening
- types of assignments (fill in the blank, questions to answer, etc.)
- feelings expressed
- work patterns (work, fidget, talk, ugh, struggle; repeat.)
- precursor events (best friend not in class this year, seatmates/tablemates, playground/classroom/daycare happening)

Maybe she:
- didn't have pure "Mom time" yet (hard to do with a busy schedule!!!)
- needs a 15-minute free-play time before starting
- needs working breaks: do x amt. (start small!) then have a short break, or work for x minutes before a break. Slowly increasing the amount of work or minutes will increase her stamina
- ***(I'm not a big fan of this, but sometimes it's a means to an end to get habits started. Then, one should slowly remove it as we want children to develop an intrinsic system, versus extrinsic.) Earning a marble/bean to put in a jar for a certain behavior (pout-free homework, an amount accomplished, minutes on task) and when the jar is full, the child earns a reward (pee-wee golfing with Mom, a no-chore weekend, sleepover with a friend.)

CLASSROOM LEVEL
Create a time to conference with the teacher, perhaps on a lunch break via phone. It's tough to find time, but this is huge! It's a chance to create a stronger team with the teacher, who also cares for your child and will be a big part of her life. Framing concerns around "what can we do" focuses all energy on creating a successful experience for your daughter. "I'm wondering..." is a great phrase to keep a positive, problem-solving outlook, which can be tough when your child is really struggling. Writing down challenges makes themes easier to discern for yourself and will help the conversation stay on track.

Possible Questions:

- What could be making completing classwork challenging?
Maybe: understanding of concept (prerequisite knowledge, that day's lesson,) understanding of assignment, learning and working style.

- What will help her be most successful in completing work (to practice the concept / show her understanding)?
Maybe: ways of framing independent time for the class (productive noise levels, appreciating different styles of working, etc.,) a quiet side table to work at (by choice,) modifying the number of problems required at the beginning of the year: doing even-numbered problems lets the child go through all types and levels on the page or lesson (if appropriate.)

- When my daughter is working, what behaviors do you see? (Sometimes a child's perspective about this is quite different that what's observed by others. Children don't always see their part, nor all the pieces. Helping her reflect about ALL of what is happening could help her come up with her own solutions/options for success.) (Reflecting then generating solutions for oneself is a life skill. :)

- With our schedule and your understanding of my daughter, what are some things I can do as a parent to support classwork and homework? Share your mental/written notes of what happens during homework time, plus your thoughts.
(When the teacher understands what your day is like, she can make suggestions tailored to your child, you, and the realities of your life.)

- As a parent, when is it appropriate for me to end a homework session/page/assignment? [Frustration level too high, time for bed (good sleep=good learning, processing, and memory!)] Share your mental/written notes of what happens during homework time.

*Sometimes the teachers suggestions may not seem workable, but write them down anyway! See if one fits better when other additions/deletions/modifications are made.
Sometimes there is a golden nugget hidden in the dirt and you have to shake the pan to find it! :)

Network with other moms and with your oldest child: what helpful hints do they have?

From my experience, regardless of how easy and relaxed I take our 4th grade pace at the beginning, the children don't feel fully "on their feet" until mid-October. There is just so much that is new: level and amount of curriculum, structures, responsibilities, and now 33 kids in the room! Returning from Winter Break, they are completely different and shake their heads when thinking back to September, wondering why they ever thought some things were so hard back then. :)
Their advice to next year's kids is priceless:
We're all in this together.
If you feel overwhelmed, just ask for help. We all need help and Ms.x and your classmates are here to help you.
You can do it!
4th grade is fun and you'll learn so much!
Projects are big but they're great!
If you have a different idea, share it!
It's great to all be different!
This is part of a bigger list; they're just some of the thoughts that helped the 4th graders through their year and became their advice to the next year's kids.

SCHOOL LEVEL
The transition from 3rd to 4th is so challenging for students and families. Under the umbrella of PTA, perhaps parents both who have made the transition in past years and those who are "in it" could get together to list challenges and provide solutions. Teacher/Admin. could add their ideas, too, and the big list of solutions could be posted on your PTA website.

Providing opportunities for 3rd and 4th teachers to collaborate about how to ramp up into the new expectations would be fruitful, especially if provided with the parents' list. It can be as simple as sharing each grade level's language of the discipline, or transitioning in May from weekly packets to writing each page that's due the next day in an organizer, and ramping up students' responsibility levels.

For 4th grade teachers, it can be difficult to take things too much slower without jeopardizing being able to complete the curriculum by the end of the year. For me and my collegues, we are acutely aware of and appreciate each child's need to spend quality time with family, to participate in extra-curricular activites, and to just play around and chill out as the kids they are! We love children; this is what brought us to teaching!

I hope you find something helpful in all of this, and my hat's off to you! Enjoy your 4th grade year! :)

.
.
.
P.S. Curricular demands, which teachers are obliged to fulfill, ask for more time than is given in the school year, leaving us teachers to come up with ways of weaving subjects together in a cohesive way so that homework does not exceed its 1-hour allotment. My personal hope is that we as a greater society reflect on children's varied needs and create cohesive expectations that are centered around what we know is best for them, now and in their futures, academically and emotionally. Oops! I'll hop off the soapbox now! :)

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K.V.

answers from San Francisco on

Maybe your daughter can ask for her seat to be moved so that she is near less talkative people. I'm sure she will get used to the time limits which will help her get more done at school. Also, have you considered her getting started on her school work at daycare so that you too have a little less to do when you get home?
The jump in expectations and academics from 3rd grade to 4th is a huge one, but your daughter will "make it". If you are still having problems, talk with the teacher about your concerns.

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B.R.

answers from Sacramento on

Something I haven't seen suggested... and I realize this may not be easy for a working single mom... is to actually spend several hours observing in your daughter's class. Most teachers will allow this, and you might just offer to do some sort of prep work for the teacher while you are visiting, so that your daughter and the other students aren't as aware of your observation (so they will be more relaxed and you can see what actually takes place even when you aren't there).
I did this when my son was in a middle school special ed class, and learned a lot more about the teacher's way of handling a class than I expected to. She was not good at explaining the work so the kids could do it, nor was she good at handling problem kids in the class. When my son came home that night, we had a frank talk in which I was able to validate for him that I had seen him behaving appropriately and that he did have a problem with the teacher's handling of the class as well as the behavior of other children. I explained that it was his job to do his best under those trying circumstances and that he could bring home any of the work he was having trouble with and we'd work on it together so he'd understand it. When we had a conference a few weeks later, I was able to bring up with the teacher, principal and school psychologist, what I had observed that day and how detrimental I thought it was to my son's education. Apparently that started an investigation into her teaching practices, because I was later told that she would not be back the next year.. and found out that she ended up taking a job outside the teaching field. I trust the situation with your daughter's teacher isn't that drastic, but not everyone who is teaching is really suited for the job. It doesn't hurt to observe and see what you can find out.

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A.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi K. - !

My advice is going to seem a bit heretical...

The schools are there to serve the family - not the other way around. There are no grades given in elementary school, and it really doesn't matter if your daughter finishes her homework or not. It matters if she is learning. If the system causing your daughter to not be able to learn, then you must take charge.

I would decide how much time your daughter should spend on homework each evening. Set a timer. Work with her or encourage her to give 100% during that time - knowing it has a definite end. If she doesn't finish, no worries - send a note, or email your daughter's teacher what you are doing, and that she has too much homework, and you as a parent are choosing to limit the effects of that.

As your daughter relaxes, and homework becomes less of an issue, she will be able to work more effectively at school and at home - and eventually the goal would be to be able to complete the homework - as she learns how to operate in the system she's in.

There is very little gained from homework conflict, and the bad experience is far worse for her than homework left undone for now. Most teachers will work with you on this - if your daughter's teacher won't, then don't worry about it and do what is right for your daughter :)

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D.S.

answers from San Francisco on

K., I had a tough time last year when my girl started 4th grade. I too noticed quite the difference in homework and she also complained about not having enough time to finish her work in class. Once I had my first conference in early Dec (I would not wait that long) things changed - I suggest you make an appt with the teacher ASAP and maybe with the principal as well. The other thing I did when my son went to after school day care was he needed to at least start his homework there and then we could look at it when I got home. Nothing worst than getting home at 6 doing dinner then starting homework - She really turned around last year when I was offered homework club that the school provided Mondays & Weds from 2:45 to 3:50, she figured out she needed to work on the hardest things first so she could get the teachers help if needed. Only bummer is homework club is not offered until January. But...I'm gonna make sure she is part of it again. Good luck it will get better!
Regards,
D.

C.C.

answers from Fresno on

With regard to unfinished seatwork, it is the teacher's responsibility to maintain order in her classroom. The kids around your daughter's desk (including your daughter, if she's anything like my daughter!) need to be quiet, and the teacher needs to enforce this. I know at my daughter's school, the teachers are extremely strict about the kids not talking during their seatwork time - that's part of the reason I chose this school for her. Last year she went to a school where there was no order in the classrooms at all, and she did have to bring home a ton of seatwork to finish as homework (in Kindergarten!! It was like an hour of homework or more every night including weekends!)

I completely agree that kids ought to be able to play, spend time with their families, etc. after school. Perhaps you can get the teacher to agree to let you time your daughter's homework with an egg timer. If the goal is 40 minutes of homework, you set the timer and she works diligently until the timer runs out. You sign off on the homework, and the teacher considers it complete. Would she go for that?

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M.K.

answers from San Francisco on

I read through all the suggestions here and they are right on. Good luck talking with the teacher and getting this worked out. Your daughter is lucky to have a concerned and caring mom on her side. Having been through the homework wars myself, I agree that homework has to be cut off at a certain point. My son's teachers were pretty good about accepting that and I expect that your daughter's will be fine with you setting limits. Just remember that you are the mom and you know your child better than anyone else.

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N.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi K.,
I am also 51 and have been a teacher for 27 years. Some background about me...I have taught primarily fourth grade and third grade and have three children 27, 20, and 16.

I would suggest going in and talking with the teacher. Make an appointment (teacher's usually don't like drop ins) and let the teacher know what it is you would like to discuss. This is too much homework. Classwork should be usually be able to be finished in the classroom. Ask why it is not being completed and keep an open mind because sometimes kids tell part of the story.

Perhaps your daughter's seat could be moved and maybe work could be modified as the kids adjust to fourth grade. It is a big change as there are so many more kids in the class in fourth grade too.

I keep in touch with many of my student's parents via email and perhaps your daughter's teacher is willing to do that too.

If you feel that the teacher is unwilling to work with you or make any modifications, then you should move on up the line to the principal, etc.

Good Luck,
N. Gilchrist

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M.K.

answers from Chico on

Definitely talk to the teacher to find out her take on the situation; be sure to be matter-of-fact about it, not accusing her of chaos in the classroom! Also, you know your daughter, so consider whether she is making excuses for not getting done or if it really is a problem (i.e. is she chatting up a storm with the others or spending her work time whining about the work rather than getting it done?) Once you have a handle on what's really going on, then you can try a couple of tactics: maybe give your daughter a watch so she can time herself in class (or she could watch the clock): If she has the work she didn't complete as homework, then the teacher's "time limit" is somewhat arbitrary. If your daughter can concentrate for 10-15 minutes at a time by her watch, maybe she'd spend less time worrying about getting it done. Another tactic: have your daughter request a new seat away from the talkers. If she takes the initiative, then the teacher will see (hopefully) that it is too much work and not just your daughter making excuses. A third suggestion: maybe her sitter can let her have a half hour of homework time before you get her? Maybe the time away from home would be a better time for her to concentrate (it's why I studied in the library in college). Finally, conside tutoring. Maybe she just doesn't get it. You can hire a high schooler to help her 1-2 times a week. I hope your daughter can get a handle on things soon! It stinks to be stressed out so young. Good luck to you both.

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C.C.

answers from San Francisco on

The following is a list of suggestions:

1. Talk to the teacher regarding your daugher's feelings about 4th grade. The teacher may not be the appropriate one for your daughter. Perhaps you and the teacher can come up with a solution. If this doesn't work, approach the principal.

2. Log how long it takes for your daughter to complete her homework on a daily basis. I think the rule of thumb is 20 minutes per grade which equals 80 minutes of homework.

3. Since time limits and the noise bother her, you might want to get her tested for a learning disability as well as an auditory processing problem. It sounds like she might process information slowly. Go onto www.php.com to find out how to write a letter to assess your daughter's learning issues.

4. I am giving an organizational and study skill class on Sept. 9, 2008. It is from 7-9:30 pm. It will be given at the Highlands Recreation Center, 1851 Lexington Avenue, San Mateo, CA ph. ###-###-####. Cost is $15.00 per person for Highlands Residents and $20.00 per person for nonresidents. To RSVP ask for Jeff Schwartz at ###-###-#### or go to www.highlandsrec.com for more information.

Please feel free to call me at ###-###-#### or email me at [email protected]____.com if you have any other questios.

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J.S.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi K.,

I taught 4th grade for several years and 4th grade is definitely a huge transition year. How long does the teacher expect students to spend on their homework? As another post mentioned, many schools follow the 10 minute rule--10 minutes per grade level. If that's the case, and your daughter is spending more than 40 minutes (that's actual pencil on paper time), then you should definitely talk to the teacher. Is the work too difficult for her, or is it just the amount of work? If you haven't already talked to the teacher, do so, otherwise she may not be aware of the problem with homework. If you have talked to her (or once you do), give her suggestions a try, but be sure to let her know if things are not improving. 2-3 hours of homework a night is ridiculous!

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't have any helpful advice but I just wanted to say I feel like I'm in the same boat. Although my granddaughter is younger and gets out of school earlier, she goes to day care until 5:30 - 5:45. She has homework and they also require 30 minutes of reading each night. There is simply not enough time EVERY night to do EVERY thing. I think if I were you I would first ask the teacher to move my daughter's seat next to someone who's quieter and then I would speak to the teacher about announcing to the students the amount of time they have to complete an assignment. Your daughter is probably too stressed to really concentrate on the answers because she's worried about the time. Is there any time/place for her to start her homework at daycare? I feel for you. It does seem like the teachers don't realize how much we have to accomplish is a very short time in the evenings!

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L.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I feel your pain. I was just about to have a talk with my 3rd grader's teacher about the ELEVEN PAGES OF HOMEWORK that she was coming home with nightly! This was not unfinished classwork but extra work with an additional 30 minutes of reading on top of that. I got a call from the Principal that my daughter was being moved into a new class in the annual student shuffle to even out the numbers and I was thrilled. I cannot imagine what teachers are thinking putting that kind of pressure on children of this age. I would definitely talk to the teacher about how long she thinks a child her age should be required to spend on homework nightly. Then, time her for a week and let the teacher (and Principal, if necessary) know if it's way off base. You are right: kids must have time to be kids and of course they need to learn but I think they just shut down after a while and the learning simply stops. Good luck!
L.

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