Author Topic: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids  (Read 1687 times)

MaybeBabyMustache

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I have two middle schoolers. One is very self motivated, gets everything done each day, tracks all assignments in his planner, and has great grades. My second child (who is in 7th grade) is . . . not that kid. He's incredibly bright, but not good at tracking, planning, managing his time, and/or remembering when things are done. Additionally, he often does homework, but fails to complete the entire task. (Didn't listen at time of assignment and/or read the full set of instructions).

We've been all manner of frustrated at home, taken away privileges, assigned extra chores, etc. At this point, I really want to focus on skill building. . . Helping our son develop the skills & capabilities to learn how to organize himself, track assignments, etc.

This is something that comes incredibly naturally to me, so I'm having a hard time stepping back & objectively thinking of how to teach this. Additionally, everything is online. All assignments, tracking, etc. So, there are no paper assignments for me to review and "check off" each evening. I also think he's getting distracted while online "doing homework", so we will find a technical solution to both track/monitor & potentially block any distractions.

I'd love any input from parents who have faced similar challenges, or have found solutions to help their kids. I know that eventually he needs to be able to do this on his own without a lot of parental intervention, but I'm hoping a few months of dedicated skill/teaching time will then allow us to step back & allow him to do this on his own.


jeninco

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2018, 02:13:56 PM »
The phrase you want to search for is "Executive Function".  As in "Developing Executive Function skills in students". Things like using a planner (and learning to write down EVERYTHING), checklists (i.e for when homework is finished), checking in regularly with teachers/for completed assignments, and even stuff that seems obvious, like figuring out how teachers want him to prioritize incomplete assignments (some teachers prefer that heavily weighted assignments be completed first, some prefer that you start with the most recent and work back in history, ...) are all skills that help develop the ability to stay organized and on top of your stuff.

It's pretty typical for kids (especially boys) to not develop super-fast at this, so not being great at it in middle school is not a sign of anything in particular. I worked with a small group of kids doing an Executive Function seminar two years ago, and there were a bunch of exercises we worked through, but I think the material is pretty easy to search out and fairly straightforward.

You may want to think carefully about whether you're the right person to go over this material with him, however: it's one more thing to fight with you about (depending on your kid).  Can you meet with teachers/principal and see what they suggest? This is far from a rare problem, and I'd expect (or, um, hope) they'd either have something formal or informal to help kids (especially boys) develop work-around skills for this kind of organizing.

True story -- my group (of 3 15-17 year old boys) and I did several self-tests on things like organization and learning skills, and I consistently tested "worse" then they did. Then I thought about how I keep myself organized with lists, and a paper calendar, and various cues, and always putting stuff like keys in exactly the same spot...

marion10

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2018, 02:40:08 PM »
I agree with the Executive Function- we had my son tested in 5th grade and he was classified as having a learning disability - his grades were not commensurate with his IQ. What this got him was an Individual Education Plan and a Resource teacher in a small group the last period of the day who helped him organize his stuff. We also was able to do a fair amount of his homework in that period. That was for 6,7,8. For high school his period was in the middle of the day and teacher not as good. What found was to email his teachers every Thursday morning about how he was doing and were there any long term assignments. I usually had an answer by Friday and this gave us the weekend to get things in shape. By end of sophomore year he said he did not want a resource period or for me to email his teachers. I said fine- keep the B average and we won't have resource and the emails. By then- junior year- everything went pretty well and college- he graduated with honors.

CrustyBadger

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2018, 03:12:46 PM »
There's a FANTASTIC book to help you teach these homework/Executive Function skills.  Don't be put off by the title.  It's called Homework Made Simple.

https://www.amazon.com/Homework-Made-Simple-Solutions-Stress-Free/dp/0971460981

It was published 8 years ago and the author (an experienced Special Education teacher) was teaching before then, so I'm not sure how much it deals with online distractions.  But the principles she teachers are great and there are a ton of very useful, homework related ideas to explore.



Freedomin5

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2018, 04:13:09 PM »
Smart But Scattered is another great book for parents specifically on helping their kid develop executive functioning skills.

With regard to doing homework online, make sure the computer is in a high visibility location (no doing homework in their bedroom), and walk past him periodically to make sure he is staying on track.

You can also help him develop strategies to keep himself on track. For example, make a game of it ó finish and submit one assignment, eat a snack or watch one YouTube video. He also needs to learn to read each assignment instruction twice before starting the work, and creating lists that he can check off based on the instructions.

Kapiira

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2018, 12:52:02 PM »
My son also struggles with these things.  I just wanted to mention some things that make me feel less frustrated with him.  1)  I see that he wants to do better and trust that he is doing the best he can (or almost the best he can) with the skills he has.  If he's really struggling with something I look at it as a puzzle to figure out, not a lack of motivation on his part.  This is not always true but it often is, and it makes me less angry to see it from this perspective.  2) The other thing that is helpful is to focus on his improvements.  His executive function may not match up with the expectations for his age group, but he improves every year.

He has a 504b for ADD which may be helpful to look into if you feel like additional supports at school would be useful.

GizmoTX

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2018, 03:39:25 PM »
I recommend a book called The Organized Student, by Donna Goldberg.

My son's middle school did an excellent job of teaching course & homework organization. Since students changed classrooms for each subject, they were each required to tote a ring binder with dividers for each subject's papers, an insertable page in the front for homework, & a grid pages for tracking assignments, one for the current week & another for the current six-weeks period for long term assignments. The binders were checked by each teacher to see what the students were doing.

When DS entered his college prep high school, it handed him a planner calendar that was pathetically small & inadequate -- he came home totally upset & worried. Using the tips in the Organized Student book, I created a planner for him using 8.5x11 pages & MS Word to format a template for them. When open, it measured 11x17, the subjects were listed with blank boxes on the left page for Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday, & the right page had Thursday, Friday, & a split box for Saturday & Sunday. I personalized the subjects for his current semester, double-sided printed pages for each week in the semester, & took them to an office supply place to spiral bind them with a clear plastic sheet on top & sturdy plastic page on the bottom. DS wrote the dates above the day names on each page & used a binder clip to be able to turn to the current week quickly. This planner turned out to be spectacularly successful for DS, & we printed a new version every semester. This paper based planner was invaluable in an environment that didn't yet require or allow a tablet or laptop. If personal tablets or laptops are allowed at school, there are electronic planner apps that can provide similar organization.

The key is that the student must use the planner consistently & realize that this is NOT extra work -- s/he cannot possibly remember every detail & a planner is an organized way to remove the stress.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2018, 04:38:40 PM »
This is all incredibly helpful, both in terms of specifics, and also just to not feel like there's no path forward. I really appreciate all of the insight. I'm traveling this week, but will use the time to work through strategies & ideas, so I can be in the right frame of mind to help when I return.

Please keep the input coming - so very appreciated!

Cranky

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2018, 05:23:08 PM »
Middle school teacher here.

This is a really transitional time for *most* kids, and the trick is for parents to help kids build the routines that let them be successful, but not really be the ones donít not thecwirk.

A paper planner and a lot of post it notes. A BIG calendar at home to help you break assignments down into doable bits. Serious supervision as to what kids are doing online (honestly - just because you sit there with your math book open for 3 hours, it doesnít mean youíre doing math.) (Really.)

And a willingness to actually say ďsorry - if you arenít done with your homework we canít go to ...Ē

kimmarg

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2018, 07:40:53 PM »
I also think he's getting distracted while online "doing homework", so we will find a technical solution to both track/monitor & potentially block any distractions.
"Stay Focused" program. It's a plugin for your browser and you can only allow a certain amount of time for certain sites.  I have just 28 minutes left of my self-alloted 1hr of facebook/twitter/mmm/nytimes after that those sites will be blocked until tomorrow.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2018, 09:27:21 PM »
Middle school teacher here.

This is a really transitional time for *most* kids, and the trick is for parents to help kids build the routines that let them be successful, but not really be the ones donít not thecwirk.

A paper planner and a lot of post it notes. A BIG calendar at home to help you break assignments down into doable bits. Serious supervision as to what kids are doing online (honestly - just because you sit there with your math book open for 3 hours, it doesnít mean youíre doing math.) (Really.)

And a willingness to actually say ďsorry - if you arenít done with your homework we canít go to ...Ē

Thanks, Cranky. We've never done any of his homework, so that's not an issue. It's more about helping him build good routines, so that going forward (high school/college), he's self sufficient to do this on his own. We are happy to cut out privileges, and do so regularly. Unfortunately, given the online system, I only see assignments when they are overdue, so the intervention happens, but would be far more successful if I could help him build a system where he's tracking assignments before they are missing. That's what will focus on moving forward. Otherwise, we're doling out punishments for missing homework, but not solving the core problem.

elliha

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2018, 02:08:06 AM »
I would have him show you what his home work is on set days each week and then you discuss when they need to be done and how to do them. If he often forgets parts of the assignment talking about what to do with you will help with that and having times when you discuss what to do and when will help him plan the week. As someone who feels like her soul is being sucked out of her if she needs to plan too much I would not go overboard with schedules and such. If your son is anything like me that will make it worse. The more I plan the less I get done. I need a flexible structure that can be negotiated to a point but if I go more rigid than that it is just counterproductive. Some people are like that but we can still learn how to organize life in a way that suits us.

mm1970

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2018, 11:02:32 AM »
Middle / junior high is no joke.  My son just started 7th and the homework is INSANE.  In my opinion.  He doesn't think so.  He's pretty organized.

Anyway -
 Yes, all assignments are online now.  Our school sent a link  for a parent portal access.  So...I can log in and look at his current grades and the assignments for the rest of the week in each class.

I only did that once, because my kid so far is capable of keeping track of everything, and he does a lot of his homework during after school program.

Do you have a similar system, where assignments are online?  (Before the due date?)

It's kind of a pain, esp when I'm running solo like this week.  But during dinner we talk about what assignments each kid has (other one is in 1st), and then I make sure we all sit down and work on them at the same time.

Cranky

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2018, 10:19:06 AM »
If the assignments are online, then part of the routine is that he logs on everyday with you present and writes them down in his planner, and you help him plan when he does what. After a while, you gradually back off. Most kids, if you walk them through this in 6/7 grade, will be able to do it independently in 8th and on.

I am a big fan of letting kids screw up in 7th grade, and suffer the consequences, but thatís not the same thing as just letting them flail around.

CrustyBadger

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2018, 05:22:59 PM »
One technique that really helped my distracted son, although it was at a younger age - 4th and 5th grade-  was the concept of DHT  (Designated Homework Time.)  He needed to sit at the place of homeworking (kitchen table) for 45 minutes each afternoon.   BIC  (Butt in Chair).  If he had homework to do, that was when he did his homework.  If his homework for the day was all done, he still had to keep his butt in the chair for the entire 45 minutes.   This meant that maybe he'd take the time to look ahead at something that was due tomorrow.  Or he'd read a chapter of the book that wasn't due until Friday. 

With my son, the moment he figured his basic obligations for tomorrow's homework were done, he'd be off otherwise to either play outside or more likely, head to the gaming computer.   With the routine of knowing he had to sit at the table, computer game-less, for the entire 45 minutes meant he got a little ahead of the game.  This would also be a time for him to log on to his school account and find out other things that were due that he had forgotten about.

I'm not quite sure how this would be adapted for an older child. 

CindyBS

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2018, 08:01:53 AM »
The policy we have with our son around that age is that if he is getting A's and B's, and I don't see a lot of missing/late assignments (one every once and a while is ok), I don't care how or when he does his work.  He has a study hall and I assume he does a lot there b/c I almost never see him working at home.    BUT, if he doesn't meet those criteria, I am all up in his business everyday about what assignments are done and what aren't.   Last year he let his grades slip one quarter and it only took about 4 weeks of me being up in his business to right the ship.  He *hates* being nagged.

Then he is capable of all A's if he applied himself.  He often does less than he is capable of, just doing the minimum for me not to be in his business.  At report card time we pay cash money for A's.  Nothing for B's.  (I've heard a variation on this is that you charge them for D's and F's, so an A in gym or Art gets wiped out by a D in math - we personally don't do that method).   Then I don't say I told you so, but I do say "You are taking 6 classes, and got 2 A's - your total is $xxx - with the unsaid thing that is could have been more.



Plugging Along

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2018, 03:24:37 PM »
My oldest just entered middle school.   She had great habitsgoing in,  but the year is early.  My grade 4 kid has similar habits.  We have found that a really consistent routine and expectations have worked well, and have been doing this since they were little.  We actually didnít know that it was consider Ďexecutive functionsí until last year.  We were taught this in their Montessori programs and just kept adding. 

Our kids have an agenda, they choose a book version even though I preferred on line in an electronic calendar.    As soon as they find out a date or schedule of activities, they write it in their calendar for the whole year.   Often schools publish their old days, and special days well in advance, and same with their other activities.  I find this set up always take a lot more time I. September when everything start new.  I send them or print them each schedule and ask them to put it in the calendar.   I then sit down and check to make sure everything is in.   This also include sleepover, camps, school concerts, ect.   This first set up take us a couple of hours.

As new events come up, they are to immediately put it in their calendar, this could be birthday parties, school special lunches, whatever.   Every weekend when we have a little down to wine (unusually Sunday).  I have them confirm they have entered the calendar events.   I also confirm that all homework and due have been entered in.  I ask area as a checklist, school by subject school and extracurricular, each after school activities, and each volunteer activity. 

When they get a homework project that is larger than a day or two, they are to put it in their calendar when itís due.  Then they are suppose to estimate how time they think they need to work on the assignment, and then pencil in the blocks they are to work on the assignment.  This goes for other multi step activities they have to pencil the work time in around their other activities and responsibilities.    I find this is really critical skill to work with them because kids (and adults) often donít think about the time the need when the home work is due later. The kids are then suppose to adjust there work plan as they go.   An example was my kid had a project they had penciled in for work time, a she doesnít see often friend invited her over, my daughter knows that she has to reschedule her workblock before she goes to her friends house. 

We have been doing this for a while, and itís become more second nature with the kids.   In beginning itís takes a lot of steps in making sure you follow up every, and helping plan.  Now, even with my younger one,itís a lot less maintenance. Our maintenance now, is i give them e yearly schedules as I get them.   They write in, I do a quick check.   I do a quick check on the weekend, but they usually have gone through their on checklist.  I spend the most time helping them estimate their work locks on big assignments.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2018, 07:44:02 AM »
Lots of good tips here.  I'm glad to read others' experiences and advice.

Our oldest started 6th grade this year and has what I consider to be a massive amount of homework, especially on the weekend.  (If not massive, it's taking a massive amount of time sometimes.)  He has a planner (our school makes us buy one for each kid) and writes his assignments down, and he stays in aftercare where a one hour block is dedicated to homework.  He still has work in the evenings each night.

I like the idea Plugging Along shared of writing in blocks of time to do assignments that can't be done in one day/evening.  Just this Friday after school, I had him show me his planner, list his work to me, and tell me what his plan was to tackle the weekend homework.  He made a plan and he stuck to it and didn't complain (well, not much).  It still took a long time, though.  Kind of dominated the weekend.  He even had to wake up early today to finish.  And he's been doing his homework each weekday, as well, which can take anywhere from 1-3 hours.  It's a good thing he only has one extracurricular activity once a week.

Other parents in his class also said that their kids were staying up till 11pm to finish their homework.  I talked it over with an educational psychologist I knew from our kids' old montessori school, who said that homework should not take that long in 6th grade, and who told me that the teachers should be told that it's taking so long.  He also said that it's okay for him to struggle and try different approaches until he finds one that works.  After that conversation, I decided to email the main teacher of the class (history) whose work takes the longest to let her know that the kids are not getting through the work as quickly as she thinks they will.  She is teaching middle school for the first time and tends to underestimate how long assignments will take (she did this when he had her in 4th grade, too--thinking something should take 5-10 minutes and it was more like 20-30).  She is having them outline their history text as they read and create summaries of each chapter, paragraph by paragraph.  I think it is a useful skill; it just takes them a LOT longer than just reading the text.  She has agreed to review the skill of outlining with them again as a class in an interactive way and to give more time per assignment.

I am not one to swoop in a "save" my child from everything they have to face, but when at least 2/3 of the class is not able to complete assignments daily, I think it's appropriate to alert the teachers so that they can consider whether to make changes to assignments or lessons.  I definitely don't want to be hovering over my kids to do their work all the time, as I don't think that helps them in the long run.  I ordered the book CrustyBadger recommended, Homework Made Simple, and I hope that we can find a way that helps set our kid up for his own way to successfully approaching his work.

jeninco

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2018, 12:18:54 PM »
Lots of good tips here.  I'm glad to read others' experiences and advice.

Our oldest started 6th grade this year and has what I consider to be a massive amount of homework, especially on the weekend.  (If not massive, it's taking a massive amount of time sometimes.)  He has a planner (our school makes us buy one for each kid) and writes his assignments down, and he stays in aftercare where a one hour block is dedicated to homework.  He still has work in the evenings each night.

I like the idea Plugging Along shared of writing in blocks of time to do assignments that can't be done in one day/evening.  Just this Friday after school, I had him show me his planner, list his work to me, and tell me what his plan was to tackle the weekend homework.  He made a plan and he stuck to it and didn't complain (well, not much).  It still took a long time, though.  Kind of dominated the weekend.  He even had to wake up early today to finish.  And he's been doing his homework each weekday, as well, which can take anywhere from 1-3 hours.  It's a good thing he only has one extracurricular activity once a week.

Other parents in his class also said that their kids were staying up till 11pm to finish their homework.  I talked it over with an educational psychologist I knew from our kids' old montessori school, who said that homework should not take that long in 6th grade, and who told me that the teachers should be told that it's taking so long.  He also said that it's okay for him to struggle and try different approaches until he finds one that works.  After that conversation, I decided to email the main teacher of the class (history) whose work takes the longest to let her know that the kids are not getting through the work as quickly as she thinks they will.  She is teaching middle school for the first time and tends to underestimate how long assignments will take (she did this when he had her in 4th grade, too--thinking something should take 5-10 minutes and it was more like 20-30).  She is having them outline their history text as they read and create summaries of each chapter, paragraph by paragraph.  I think it is a useful skill; it just takes them a LOT longer than just reading the text.  She has agreed to review the skill of outlining with them again as a class in an interactive way and to give more time per assignment.

I am not one to swoop in a "save" my child from everything they have to face, but when at least 2/3 of the class is not able to complete assignments daily, I think it's appropriate to alert the teachers so that they can consider whether to make changes to assignments or lessons.  I definitely don't want to be hovering over my kids to do their work all the time, as I don't think that helps them in the long run.  I ordered the book CrustyBadger recommended, Homework Made Simple, and I hope that we can find a way that helps set our kid up for his own way to successfully approaching his work.

Well done!

It's tough to walk the line between being completely hands-off and being over involved (and the location of that line changes all the time), but most of the good teachers we've had would want to know that the homework they were assigning was taking 2-3 times as long as they expected (and would adjust accordingly). Good luck going forward -- and I recommend a friendly follow-up with the teacher, either way. In person, if that's at all possible -- you want to be genuinely friendly, and tone is awfully hard in written communications.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2018, 01:21:45 PM »
Thanks for all of the great advice. I ordered the books mentioned here, and spent quite a bit of time with my son on this on Sunday. Basically, helping him think through his planner/agenda, how he's tracking homework, and getting into a system for better organization. We have a lot of work to do, and I know it will take time to develop the good habits & skills that will enable him to be self reliant, but we know how critical this will be for independence in high school & college.

He does play after school sports, and we will discuss timing & options for his time management around that. I'm sort of loathe to have him give up sports, as I think they are a critical component of his overall health & sportsmanship development. It's a hard tradeoff, and I'm hoping that by providing more parental support, we can teach him skills that will allow him to balance all of this.

We also have a firm no electronics rule during the week, and only occasionally on the weekend if everything is completed. I can't imagine trying to balance homework & sports with a desire from him to play games or watch TV.

In terms of teacher communication, so far, I've let him lead that (per the request of the teachers), but I do plan to set up time with his counselor at school to get a sense for how she reads the situation, any best practices or tips, etc.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2018, 11:23:28 AM »
Well done!

It's tough to walk the line between being completely hands-off and being over involved (and the location of that line changes all the time), but most of the good teachers we've had would want to know that the homework they were assigning was taking 2-3 times as long as they expected (and would adjust accordingly). Good luck going forward -- and I recommend a friendly follow-up with the teacher, either way. In person, if that's at all possible -- you want to be genuinely friendly, and tone is awfully hard in written communications.

Aw, thanks for the thumbs up!  I definitely will follow up with the teacher.  We are very fortunate to have genuinely engaged teachers, some of whom have taught my son in earlier grades, like the one I mentioned, and who have a pretty good rapport with him.

And my copy of Homework Made Simple just arrived and I started looking through it this morning.  Looks good so far!

elaine amj

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2018, 11:29:27 PM »
I want to say thanks for this thread. My DS is almost 16 and has always struggled in all these areas. He's a bit more motivated right now so I brought up the Butt in Seat method today and we gave it a shot. He has agreed to 3 hours a day of Butt in Seat and will consider pre-planning the time (probably with a lot of nagging).

I know he cheats a bit when I am not watching closely, but like I keep telling him, he is only cheating himself.

I like the planner suggestions here and have started discussing them with DS - who is still reluctant to do the extra work.

Oh well, I have scored some wins this semester. So far his binder has stayed neat and his notes are actually legible. He is keeping up with schoolwork and excitedly reporting some great grades :)

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al3x

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #22 on: September 27, 2018, 11:03:21 AM »
Letís say a kid whoís in 8th grade sets Harvard as her goal. At 14, she cannot be expected to understand or complete all of the work requirements of a Harvard freshman. However, she can be taught what is involved and shown how much time and effort are required. Iím not advocating that parents do their kidís homework or consult websites like http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/ or http://yourhomeworkhelp.org/. However, I do believe that kids need to be taught how to take thorough notes, how to study for tests, and how to write papers through parental coaching. Again, we donít put a kid behind the wheel of a car on a freeway in rush hour and tell them to drive.

CrustyBadger

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2018, 05:10:05 AM »
I want to say thanks for this thread. My DS is almost 16 and has always struggled in all these areas. He's a bit more motivated right now so I brought up the Butt in Seat method today and we gave it a shot. He has agreed to 3 hours a day of Butt in Seat and will consider pre-planning the time (probably with a lot of nagging).

Woah!  Three hours of homework daily is a TON of homework!  Does he really need that much time??

elaine amj

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2018, 06:30:03 AM »
I want to say thanks for this thread. My DS is almost 16 and has always struggled in all these areas. He's a bit more motivated right now so I brought up the Butt in Seat method today and we gave it a shot. He has agreed to 3 hours a day of Butt in Seat and will consider pre-planning the time (probably with a lot of nagging).

Woah!  Three hours of homework daily is a TON of homework!  Does he really need that much time??
Haha...this week he has been doing 4 hours of Butt in Seat because he has been coming home 2+ hours early from school (he has co-op then but is the last kid who hasn't landed a job so I have been letting him come home early). Plus extracurricular stuff like chores, after school activities, sports, etc do not reduce the Butt in Seat time.

He has spent his whole life being lazy and scraping by on the bare minimum. He agrees he has a LOT of catching up to do.

Plus, he passed English with a 50% for the past 2 years. I still am not confident he will pass English next semester so we are trying to work ahead a bit. I honestly could live if he can't analyze Macbeth that well. But he needs to be able to write a coherent email. And he's not there yet :(

On top of that, Math is a struggle for him so I am pushing him to do 1-2 hours of homework + extra practice every day.

Don't worry - stuff like reading counts as part of the 3 hours of Butt in Seat. And he somehow still has time for a bit of gaming and chatting with his friends on Discord. Plus he messes around a lot so it's not all productive time anyway.

He's very cooperative about this and agrees that he wouldn't have to do this much Butt in Seat time if he hadn't wasted so many years being lazy.

Then again, my straight-A overachiever DD17 spends about 4-6 hours every day studying / doing homework. So his 3 hours is still "lazy" in this house haha.

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mm1970

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2018, 09:36:09 AM »
I want to say thanks for this thread. My DS is almost 16 and has always struggled in all these areas. He's a bit more motivated right now so I brought up the Butt in Seat method today and we gave it a shot. He has agreed to 3 hours a day of Butt in Seat and will consider pre-planning the time (probably with a lot of nagging).

Woah!  Three hours of homework daily is a TON of homework!  Does he really need that much time??
Haha...this week he has been doing 4 hours of Butt in Seat because he has been coming home 2+ hours early from school (he has co-op then but is the last kid who hasn't landed a job so I have been letting him come home early). Plus extracurricular stuff like chores, after school activities, sports, etc do not reduce the Butt in Seat time.

He has spent his whole life being lazy and scraping by on the bare minimum. He agrees he has a LOT of catching up to do.

Plus, he passed English with a 50% for the past 2 years. I still am not confident he will pass English next semester so we are trying to work ahead a bit. I honestly could live if he can't analyze Macbeth that well. But he needs to be able to write a coherent email. And he's not there yet :(

On top of that, Math is a struggle for him so I am pushing him to do 1-2 hours of homework + extra practice every day.

Don't worry - stuff like reading counts as part of the 3 hours of Butt in Seat. And he somehow still has time for a bit of gaming and chatting with his friends on Discord. Plus he messes around a lot so it's not all productive time anyway.

He's very cooperative about this and agrees that he wouldn't have to do this much Butt in Seat time if he hadn't wasted so many years being lazy.

Then again, my straight-A overachiever DD17 spends about 4-6 hours every day studying / doing homework. So his 3 hours is still "lazy" in this house haha.

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Camp Mustache Toronto (Sep 21-23) is where all the cool Mustachians will be gathering for meatball parties,  karaoke in the bell tower and VolleyHockeyBall!
I actually think this is a good idea.  I know there's a big "push" for no homework around here right now.  Which is fine, if your kid learns stuff.

But if you are "behind" one year and keep advancing to the next...you keep getting behind.  I think we should aim for mastering things, or at least doing them well.

One of my son's friends/ family friends had a really bad 3rd grade experience, with a string of subs.  Never learned multiplication.  She's joking that she's SO FAR BEHIND in math she has 3 hours a day.  But really, they put her in remedial math AND regular math, so she has 8 classes a day in JH instead of 7.  It's making such a HUGE difference.

elaine amj

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2018, 09:00:47 AM »
Just want to report back that Butt in Seat has been working great for us :) The name itself injects some humor into the proceedings. Before, we used a timed schedule but had a hard time sticking to it. Now, each day after school I ask him his plan for his Butt in Seat time. Then periodically throughout the day I ask him to add up his time and report back to me.

He does fudge his time sometimes and often overestimates how much time he spends studying. But at almost 16, I tell him the only person he is cheating is himself.

He still avoids subjects he doesn't want to do (i.e. English!), but overall it keeps his focus on doing something productive with his Butt in Seat time. He still avoids reading but I am flexible and allow Internet research to count. He still spends too much time on video games (yes, even with 3-4 hours of Butt in Seat daily he still has time for video games, basketball, friends, extracurriculars, and YouTube).

A typical day seems to go:
- 12 to 2:30pm Home from school (his last couple of hours are supposed to be at a co-op job and he hasn't started working yet so has been coming home early - he does an extra hour of Butt in Seat time to "make up").
2:45-3:45 Butt in Seat
Break
4:30-5:30 Butt in Seat
Break
6:00-6:30 Butt in Seat
Dinner
Activity
9:00-9:30 Butt in Seat

We are still working on keeping himself organized. Making him tell me his Butt in Seat strategy each day helps him understand pre-planning. He has started using the calendar and reminder apps on his phone although not always consistently.  But still, he is starting to like phone reminders.

He is learning the importance of tidy notes and tidy homework. This is HUGE for us. I am also pushing him to focus on neat handwriting (I was struggling to read his notes!). Now he proudly shows me neatly done homework and tidy notes every few days.

His desk is still messy and his room is getting that way. So going to start nagging about that. Yesterday he had barely enough room to write on his desk!

We haven't done the fancy color-coded planners yet and I am still debating it. Would love to hear feedback.

We go on Thursday night to hear the results of a psychological assessment for my DS so will find out if there are additional supports he needs or if he really has no excuses lol.

OP - thanks again for starting this thread. It truly has helped us so very much!

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elaine amj

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2018, 09:06:32 AM »
I also think he's getting distracted while online "doing homework", so we will find a technical solution to both track/monitor & potentially block any distractions.
"Stay Focused" program. It's a plugin for your browser and you can only allow a certain amount of time for certain sites.  I have just 28 minutes left of my self-alloted 1hr of facebook/twitter/mmm/nytimes after that those sites will be blocked until tomorrow.
Also want to add my DH installed one of these apps on DS' phone. About the same time you mentioned it although he thought it up on his own!

DS doesn't complain (although I find it a wee bit funny to see all the grayed out apps on his phone at night haha!)

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MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2018, 11:27:56 AM »
@elaine amj - we do butt in seat homework time as well. Our timing floats a bit due to sports practices, but we've instituted a few things that are working.

1) Every day, when my son gets home from school, he goes through all of his classroom sites & makes a list of what needs to be done.
2) I review the list, and currently am having him also show me the classroom sites, as verification. He still misses about 10% of the stuff that's on the classroom site, because of general sloppiness & going too quickly.
3) He prioritizes the homework, either by blocks of time or most urgent/biggest grade impact
4) Homework commences
5) I don't review his actual homework, but do make sure that he's confirmed hitting the actual "submit" button on all of his work. Surprisingly, this also has a 10% failure rate

We're hoping to be able to consolidate many of these steps, but are focused on teaching organization & planning habits, so going through all of the motions is useful as he learns.

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2018, 02:32:05 PM »
I have two middle schoolers. One is very self motivated, gets everything done each day, tracks all assignments in his planner, and has great grades. My second child (who is in 7th grade) is . . . not that kid. He's incredibly bright, but not good at tracking, planning, managing his time, and/or remembering when things are done. Additionally, he often does homework, but fails to complete the entire task. (Didn't listen at time of assignment and/or read the full set of instructions).

We've been all manner of frustrated at home, taken away privileges, assigned extra chores, etc. At this point, I really want to focus on skill building. . . Helping our son develop the skills & capabilities to learn how to organize himself, track assignments, etc.

You have just decribed my life with our 6th grader (Middle School in our district).  I'm at my wits end as well...you're not alone :)

elaine amj

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2018, 12:25:13 AM »
FYI: I got the results from the Psych Assessment last week - DS has mild issues with ADHD - which explains a lot of the Executive Functioning issues. This has been helping me to understand better ways to help him. We are realizing that telling him to "just do it" or shoving him over the cliff isn't actually helping him. Now my focus is building a scaffold for him to help him climb. (So different from my DD who is able to fly without much external assistance). 

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MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Looking for homework help/advice for middle school/high school aged kids
« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2018, 09:23:25 AM »
@emiloots - you have my sympathy! I posted an update just above yours a few with some of the things that are working. I'd also recommend the book "Homework Made Simple", which someone recommended in this thread as well. I'd say to focus on learning skills & good habits, even if that doesn't immediately translate into better grades. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway. ;-)

@elaine amj - so happy you got information that can help you best guide/assist your son. Fingers crossed for you guys!

TVRodriguez

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FYI: I got the results from the Psych Assessment last week - DS has mild issues with ADHD - which explains a lot of the Executive Functioning issues. This has been helping me to understand better ways to help him. We are realizing that telling him to "just do it" or shoving him over the cliff isn't actually helping him. Now my focus is building a scaffold for him to help him climb. (So different from my DD who is able to fly without much external assistance). 


Knowing the results can only help you help him, as you said. 

Another vote for Homework Made Simple.  I've not even finished reading it but have found the tips helpful so far.