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Gymnastics vs. Homework

A's Mom

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My third grader is training L4 and the gym is her happy place. The other side of that coin is that homework struggles are bordering on too much to handle. Each week, she gets a packet (like 4-6 pages) of spelling exercises, spelling words to work on, and she needs to read a bit every day. This is not too much to ask. But because she's at the gym M/Tu/Th, Wednesdays and Saturdays turn into homework fights and anxiety attacks. I'm trying to get her to do her homework bit by bit during the rides to and from the gym so she's not packing it all into an overwhelming block, but since I'm not driving this month (I'm a freelancer on contract), I can't force her to and she just doesn't do it. Then when it's brought up at dinner, she freaks out. We can get through the end of third grade and have a summer full of gymnastics, but I'm worried about next year, when she'll have more gym hours and more homework. How do I help her find the inner discipline to get her homework done? We've always said school has to come first, and I'm reaching the point where I'm ready to pull gymnastics if it's stopping schoolwork from getting done. I don't want to threaten her with that. I want this to resolve positively. But the pressures and time constraints are only going to get worse. If you faced this, how did you solve it?
 
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rjb123

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My DD missed one day of gym due to HW not being done. I also made her write a letter to her coaches telling them that she missed BECAUSE she didn't do her homework. The combo of telling her coaches AND missing gym did the job. It literally never happened again. ;). I don't play when it comes to threats- my kids know that I WILL follow through. ;).
 

Dahlia

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If the amount of homework is consistent, make a calendar and break up the homework into manageable chunks. So say she has a 6 page packet, Wednesday 2 pages, Friday 2 pages, Saturday 2 pages, Sunday break. Have her do her bit of reading in the car to/from practice or school (if she doesn't get motion sick). Seeing her homework broken down into manageable chunks is less overwhelming that looking at it all as a whole. If there are still issues, you may need to enforce consequences (i.e. you didn't get your 2 pages done on Wednesday, so you stay home from practice Thursday to do them). It probably would only take 1 time of doing that before she "gets" it and is more motivated (IME, anyways, though that may not work with every kid).
 

A's Mom

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Thanks :) She's already missed a day of practice because homework was piling up. She didn't like it, but she knew it had to happen.

I try to not micromanage her, but in this case, that may be a good idea. I'll try making a more detailed "due date" calendar for next week and see how it goes.
 
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CLgym

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The pain is real. I have a fifth grade (10 yr old) L7 who has similar struggles. It's not like the homework is too much at this point, it's just that she gets SO anxious and worked up over it. Drama! She is in the gym 20 hrs a week (all but one school night until 8 PM + 30 minute drive home), so homework is mostly packed in at the end of a long day. She changes classes for each academic subject, so some kind of alternative homework plan is not as easy as talking to one teacher... PLUS she has missed a tremendous amount of school due to gymnastics this year (two travel meets + 5 Friday meet sessions) so I hate to ask for any more special allowances.

One thing that has helped is pushing some homework to the morning -- when she is more rested.

I also kept her home from the gym once for behavior related to homework completion ("if you can't come home from gymnastics and cooperate with homework, then you can't go to the gym....." kind of thing). But I can't say it had a huge impact long term. I think she is tired and stressed and acts out accordingly.

Car sickness (and car pools) prevent much from getting done to/from.

I'll be following this thread for suggestions!! Good luck
 
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Dahlia

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Thanks :) She's already missed a day of practice because homework was piling up. She didn't like it, but she knew it had to happen.

I try to not micromanage her, but in this case, that may be a good idea. I'll try making a more detailed "due date" calendar for next week and see how it goes.
You definitely could do the calendar the first couple of times and then pass it on to her. After she's seen how to schedule she should be able to do it on her own or with a little assistance. So you only have to micromanage for a little bit.
 

Aussie_coach

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Learning to juggle a busy extra curricular schedule and homework is actually one of the truly valuable lessons that gymnastics tends to offer it's participants. Many gymnasts end up becoming the most organised and efficient homework completers, simply because they have no choice but to learn to be organised and efficient. I personally feel my own success as a student can very much be attributed to a crazy, busy schedule. I had ver limited time to get things done, so when I had the chance there was no time to procrastinate and get things done, I just had to get in and do it. Others had lots of spare time, and when it came to homework this amounted to lots of wasted time.

Giving her an out, like saying "if it gets too much you can skip a practice" may actually hinder the development of organisation. She isn't going to develop those skills, because she will just feel like she can take the time off training if she needs to. Instead of realising this is all the time she has, she needs to make the most of it. Those panic states she is getting into, are not nessesarily a bad thing. As human beings, the thing that alllows us to create new habits is being unsatisfied with the unpleasant feeling we get from the old habit. It takes time when they are young, but that awful, unpleasant panic feeling may just be the thing she needs to realise she needs to follow your advice and do the homework in the car.
 
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ldw4mlo

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Personally I think 5 days of gym is too much for L4. But that is strictly JMO

Homework comes first. So if homework can’t be done, then gym is out. And if too much gym is out, then gym is done.

Before middle school, where she now has study hall. She would do work on Sunday if she had to. We would get her packets ahead of time, so she could start on Sunday. She has a lap desk for the car.

We started with time management skills back in first grade. Get the planner out and together make a plan. A to do list. And starting in 3rd grade around here the school gives them a planner. When will you do x, when will you do y. You have a,b,c, and d. What kind of things can you do quickly. What kind of things take more time. You have practice on Thursday so your writing assignment needs to be done by Wed. If she is a morning person have her get up early and do work. Talk about her cranky time. When she needs some down time, all with the planner so she sees where her time goes and at what point there is no more time. Not you doing the planning for her but sitting with her and helping her figure it out and getting her buy in.

Pick a calm time. Perhaps Sunday morning or evening to look at the upcoming week and put stuff in the planner.

Mine knows later evening is not her best time. She does the harder stuff earlier. Saves the stuff she can do quickly for the car. She has learned to pick her spots.

It is a learned skill and she has become quite good. She likes her outside time so she even checks the weather. She did most of her work yesterday, because it is supposed to be the cruddiest day of the week. She is in 7th grade now and she handles her workload. It’s become habit.

It’s also the season. The kids, the teachers, the parents. We are all over it.
 
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ldw4mlo

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My DD missed one day of gym due to HW not being done. I also made her write a letter to her coaches telling them that she missed BECAUSE she didn't do her homework. The combo of telling her coaches AND missing gym did the job. It literally never happened again. ;). I don't play when it comes to threats- my kids know that I WILL follow through. ;).
This is me. The “I mean it Mommy.”

She got caught goofing off on her chrome book. She wrote the teacher an apology for wasting her time. I told her if it happens again I’ll go to class with her and help her focus. Middle schoolers don’t like parents around :D
 

Flicfliclay

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I have a 5th grader that just finished up level 9, and is at the gym 6 days a week. You must help her find a balance. Mine does homework in the car on the way to school, and uses any spare time in class to get things finished. She has been in gymnastics since kindergarten so she knows no differently that it is a priority to get her work done. There has never been a fight about it, because she is very aware that school comes first.
 

NutterButter

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OK...my opinion will make people feel uncomfortable but here goes. :)

I have more than once at the beginning of the year told my kids' K-4 teachers that I don't believe in homework in general. This always resulted in a conversation about how the teacher agrees with me and we talk about their approach to homework and then a conversation about what will happen when my kid doesn't do the homework in their class. Most of the time my kids will do the work but there's been times when they don't including some 'bigger' assignments like reading logs or projects. And I usually communicated with the teacher in advance about it. This is easy for me because I'm in a district that doesn't give letter grades until grade 6. Missing assignments or a missing reading log were not going to negatively impact my child.

For grades 4-5 I communicated in advance with DDs teacher on what she should prioritize in homework. The math teacher may assign an entire worksheet but encouraged DD to do just a handful of problems to show that she understands or skip the easier problems and focus on the more difficult ones. My DD's language arts teacher gave tons of homework but allowed me to sign the homework if it was too much for that day or she allowed her to turn it in later depending on the assignment. Nearly every teacher at this point gave a limit on how long they should be spending on homework and most suggested that my DD quits when she hits the time limit. My DD was always slow and meticulous and would easily spend an hour doing something that should have taken 10 minutes (and being tired after practice didn't help).

For grades 6-8 DD usually communicated with her teachers if she needed extra time for completing homework or if she needed the assignment in advance because she knew she had a busy week ahead. Her teacher were almost always willing to accommodate her needs.

Now she's in high school and she does all the work, as assigned. In some classes she has asked for work in advance of a travel meet. And if there was something due prior to or just after a travel meet she works out something in advance. One year a teacher who assigned a lot of homework in a demanding class just changed the assignments to not count towards her grade while she was away at a travel meet. She still had to turn them in but they weren't graded. One of her math teachers told her that if she ran out of time to some of the problems.

I do encourage my DD to skip school when needed to either catch up on sleep, rest or get caught up on homework. She got home from a meet yesterday and even though she already missed two days of school she took today off just to sleep in and rest. Could she have gone to school today, YES, but she was sick all last week and over the weekend and needed the break. She doesn't like to take a day off but it's been helpful...she does it less than once a semester.

All of that to say - talk your kids' teacher if it's too much. Even if they change classes and have 4 different teachers. You'd be surprised how many want to accommodate your child. Even in high school teachers are mostly agreeable to helping a kid when needed. Teachers don't like seeing their students having anxiety over homework. They also know often what is in the child's best interest on a particular day may just be to get some rest and sleep.
 

Freddy's Fred

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I have a 5th grader that just finished up level 9, and is at the gym 6 days a week. You must help her find a balance. Mine does homework in the car on the way to school, and uses any spare time in class to get things finished. She has been in gymnastics since kindergarten so she knows no differently that it is a priority to get her work done. There has never been a fight about it, because she is very aware that school comes first.
Are you going to have a 6th grade level 10? It's always so amazing to me what kids are capable of.
 

ldw4mlo

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All of that to say - talk your kids' teacher if it's too much. Even if they change classes and have 4 different teachers. You'd be surprised how many want to accommodate your child. Even in high school teachers are mostly agreeable to helping a kid when needed. Teachers don't like seeing their students having anxiety over homework. .

I too, have conversations every year with every teacher. I lead I am not here to get her out of work. It’s our expectation she completes all her work. That helps. We do expect to be given the work in a way she can manage all her obligations and not turn it in late. It helps our district actually has a written policy that speaks to allow families to manage their time.

We don’t do daily things. You want 30 mins of reading a night. You’ll get 210 mins for the week when we can get it done.

I find most teachers, especially the younger ones get it. Her third grade teacher gave them like 20 ways to do spelling. They had to do 2 each week. Due Friday.

Her fourth grade teacher said I’m not assigning spelling homework. We do our class work, test is on Friday. Do what works for you to learn the words.

The teacher I butted heads with the most, was very old school. Started the year out refusing to assign work ahead and graded homework. Her logic was first, well this is how things are. Me, really you can only work on grades the night before they are due? The next argument was if I assign it too early most kids will forget. (This was grade 5) so my kid who has excellent time management skills suffers because of the masses. She came around (with some mediation with the principal). She started assigning work on Friday that was due mid week. She is my daughters favorite teacher, and mine too. She just wrote a Honor Society recommendation for my daughter that made me pherklempt.

Her 6th grade teacher told me she can’t assign the spelling words ahead because she hasn’t “taught” it yet. Huh...... You can give her the words. The grammar lesson can wait. She wouldn’t give in but she only checked that homework was attempted. So I told mine, do what you can and be done with it.

Now in middle school we/she prioritize her classes. So if you need to make up science or math and home ec suffers so be it. If we need work ahead of time, if we give them enough notice it usually works out.
 
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NutterButter

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The teacher I butted heads with the most, was very old school. Started the year out refusing to assign work ahead and graded homework. Her logic was first, well this is how things are. Me, really you can only work on grades the night before they are due? The next argument was if I assign it too early most kids will forget. (This was grade 5) so my kid who has excellent time management skills suffers because of the masses. She came around (with some mediation with the principal). She started assigning work on Friday that was due mid week. She is my daughters favorite teacher, and mine too. She just wrote a Honor Society recommendation for my daughter that made me pherklempt.
We had a very similar experience to this with DD's 4th & 5th grade teacher. She was old school, intense and had very high expectations for her students. At the time my DD was in therapy for anxiety (which was intensified by this teacher) and things were so bad that DD's therapist believed we needed to get her into another classroom. After some intervention with a school administrator things got better for my DD in her class and she not only stayed in the class but opted to have her again in 5th grade. The teacher is still my all time favorite and in the top 2-3 for my DD.

It was this experience with homework anxiety though that made me question the purpose of homework in early grades and turned me more into an advocate for no homework which my younger child was more the beneficiary of. I regret all the homework battles I had with my DD in those early grades. She wasn't even in gymnastics at the time. Spending the day at school was 'enough' for her for in K-3.
 

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Our elementary school stopped giving out homework and I'm not complaining. Just hope it doesn't come back to bite my kids if it really ramps up in middle school...
 
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CLgym

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Great conversation....

With the exception of larger projects, I have found that my DD's homework is mostly assigned nightly (due the next day), and is not predictable. In other words, it's very difficult to plan ahead or work on days/times with no gym. Moreover, my DD generally does not want me to intervene -- the idea of not doing her homework on the same timeline as everyone else stresses her out even more! (Similarly, I have offered to let her sleep in a few times -- she would only miss homeroom, quiet reading and morning recess -- but she absolutely refuses. Says it would be too embarrassing to arrive late.) If I'm being honest, my kiddo's issues are probably more related to anxiety than homework.... and that may be a harder nut to crack! To the OP -- I suppose that you might need to dig into the reasons underlying the homework drama in order to figure out the best solutions.
 

ldw4mlo

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Great conversation....

With the exception of larger projects, I have found that my DD's homework is mostly assigned nightly (due the next day), and is not predictable
That ticks me off.

I’m not anti homework. A little is OK. See how they absorbed or didn’t the concepts taught. Help develop good study habits. All valid reasons for reasonable work. 10 mins per grade level is reasonable.

But time management skills are the most important lesson of all. Again, teachers have to lesson plan. They have plenty of time to deal with when grades are due. You go to college, you pretty much get your work/syllabus day 1 get it done or don’t. In any job I have ever had there are timelines set.

This due the next day because I said so or that’s how it’s always been done makes me nuts.

My kid did most of her work yesterday, had a lazy afternoon today. Finished up this evening. Tomorrow she has a concert and we are meeting up with her friends for dinner. Some weeks Thursday is homework day. Thankfully her teachers give their work out on Monday for the most part.
 
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mommyof1

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If it gives you any hope, we have found middle school to be more manageable than the later elementary grades in terms of homework. (Well, except for that one terrible week when an inexperienced teacher teaching a brand-new course assigned what she thought was two or three hours’ worth of work that ended up taking 20 hours.) In fourth and fifth grades, there was often an hour of busy work with little educational value assigned one day and due the next. In middle school, most of the homework has been real work that reinforces in-class learning. There are no giant craft projects masquerading as book reports or science projects that require multiple trips to Michael’s and an entire weekend of parental assistance to construct. Instead, the kids work math problems to apply the concepts taught in class, write lab reports, practice foreign language vocabulary and grammar, and write essays. None of this takes as long as those darn spelling assignments from fifth grade. Large assignments such as essays can generally be done over the weekend, and block scheduling means that in most classes kids have two nights to complete routine homework. In addition, some schools (but not ours) offer competitive athletes the opportunity to complete P.E. as an independent study to get study hall time during the school day.
 

mommyof1

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Our elementary school stopped giving out homework and I'm not complaining. Just hope it doesn't come back to bite my kids if it really ramps up in middle school...
The busy work in elementary school did exactly nothing to prepare my child for middle school. It just taught her to hate homework, which she had to unlearn. Everything she knows about time management and study skills she had to figure out as she went in middle school.
 

my4buffaloes

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I too found it more manageable in middle and high school because I made sure my kids have a study hall. Also, in our district starting in 4th grade there is built in time to almost every day for kids to get extra help and/or get caught up. Many kids use this time to do homework. Really it is about finding those pockets of time each day that homework can be done. One of my students (I am in 3rd grade) always does his homework in the morning - he is way too tired after school.

Also, at 9-10 years old, your child is old enough to have a sit down conversation about how homework is to be handled and you can both agree on what to do next year. She should understand your argument of needing to do a little each day.
 

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