Monday, 8 February 2010

What a Weekend...

Whew! It's Monday already! Where did that weekend go?

Well, most of it was spent helping J. with the dreaded H-word!  He has had piles of homework this term and it's been getting on top of him.  To the point where he had put off a project for Art, right to the very last possible day...

We are about to overhaul the homework timetable at home here. J. is not an evenings type of person and trying to do homework at 5pm, after a busy day in school, is just more than he can manage most days.

However, last Wednesday morning we had a bit of a revelation.  After our Tuesday evening spent at the hospital, J. hadn't been able to finish a collage for his R.E. lesson on Wednesday (another thing he'd put off til the last minute!).  He did take some internet research along with him - we printed photos and text and packed up a homework bag - but there was no place for him to work, so it just didn't get done.  I offered to write a note to his teacher.  "No, I'll do it when I get up."  He did too - he spent around 40 minutes on his collage and produced a fab piece of work.  On Monday and Tuesday evenings he'd hung over his work moaning how tired he was and how hard it was....

So, mornings it will be from now on, I think! He has always been up with the lark, usually singing, always wide awake and lively.  His brain functions better at 6am than it does at 4pm, so I think that must be the time for anything that requires brain-power.  A timetable is about to be drawn up... also to avoid situations like this:

The Art teacher gave J's group an Art History project, to find out about Picasso.  She gave them a sheet of requirements - his life, his work, a study of one particular work and a detail study from one picture too. Also an introduction and conclusion.  The sort of thing you'd expect from a project.  They had a month to do it in.

J. put it off... and put it off... and put it off... til we reached last weekend.  When he put it off again... wouldn't work on it. Made lots of excuses, did other homework instead. Promised to work on it every evening last week... I tried telling him to knuckle down, but it just produced floods of tears, bewilderment, muddle.

I tried sitting with him, to help him make a plan and do some research.  We finished the research, printed off lots of stuff, then he copped out and gave up.

After a fair bit of thinking, I came to the conclusion that he was just totally out of his depth and this was the only way he could cope.  So I told him this was what I thought and that it wasn't the way to deal with it.  I said the project could be done, that it wasn't really so difficult. That he needed help with planning.  He agreed (!). So we sat down on Saturday afternoon, to get started. 

Saturday mornings, J. goes to a club for gifted and talented children, run by the local Business Education Partnership.  He does a 6 week course each term, with a one-day workshop on the 7th Saturday.  Each time he can choose from a long list of subjects for the course and different things for the workshop.  Choices include science, forensics, "CSI", cooking, sugarcraft, ceramics, mask-making, fine art, history, latin, "table top generals", self defence, outdoor adventure activities, drama, dance, trampolining, a magic workshop, an exotic creatures day, creative writing, astronomy... the list just goes on and on.  Anyway, he spends all morning there and it's hard work, but fun.

So of course, he was tired out on Saturday afternoon.  No progress on the project - just more tears and an increasing sense of panic!

It had to be Sunday.  He agreed that this was true. I gave him a pep-talk to end all pep-talks and told him he must get in the frame of mind to work hard on Sunday, as we were going to tackle the project and it would be finished!

We got up early. We ate breakfast. We got organised. We sat down at 9:30am, at the dining room table, with paper, pens, research material, pictures to stick in, scissors, glue etc etc. 

At 7:30pm we finished the project.  J. worked his little socks off...  he was exhausted, but he had done a fine piece of work in those 10 hours.  I helped him by focusing his mind, showing him how to plan his project, showing him how to condense those bewildering pages of research information into a few sheets of information (the real problem!).  I cut out pictures that he wanted, to save him time while he was writing, so he could stick them in place.  I helped him to focus his ideas and to keep going.  I just made sure I was there.

His dad popped in and out to encourage us, made our lunch and tea, gave us snacks, chatted to J. when he took a break.  I helped him draft an introduction and a conclusion and after tea he wrote them out.

I had covered two pieces of book-board with artist's canvas, punched holes to make covers; then J. stamped "Picasso" across the top in gold ink and stuck a sketch we found of the artist and a good quote onto the cover.  We punched holes in the pages and secured it all with book rings.

It looked fabulous! In that ten hour day he had done a month's work... I think he had also learned a very useful lesson (or in fact, several!).  I don't think he'll put it off again, or refuse help and support from us when he needs it.  I think he has learned something about the value of planning, rather than just trying to dive in. 

I also hope he's learned a bit about how much we love him... and how clever he is.. and how special... and how proud he makes us.  I certainly have!

So now it's Monday... I feel shell shocked, but so pleased we did all that.  Hopefully next time it will be so much easier and he will be able to timetable his work more effectively.

This morning I finally managed to get photos to list this in my Etsy shop:

Isn't this a lovely picture?

I was inspired by the lovely colours in this picture and have made a journal / sketchbook with this as the cover.  The covers have Murano art paper on them, with gold silk dupion on the spine edges.  I have punched through the covers and pages, then stitched them with red cotton thread, in a Japanese style.  The dupion frays nicely, so I took some threads from a piece of the fabric and made a silk tassel to decorate the book. 

It's just turned out so nicely.  Pity the light is so awful - the photos are not very good.  I will re-take them when the weather improves (unless someone buys the book!).

So a nice positive end to my Monday post! :-)


  1. oh the hard lessons of accepting help and doing some planning. Well done to you all

  2. It is indeed a beautiful picture. Ah, yes. The homework struggle..10 hours is a lot for a project, I'm sure it's an amazing piece of work. I'm with you on the morning-is-better thing. I must have been in my 20's before I discovered I could do a bit in the evenings if I really put my mind to it. I've always worked better bright and early..and he is lucky to have a mum who appreciates that.

  3. awww poor j, homework is so horrible after school. well done on the prep and finished project though. and u did a journal/book for the shop.........good try, gold star
    Jo xxx

  4. What a good mom! DS learned the power of planning his homework schedule out early on because he has always had a busy sports schedule and knows that WE put schoolwork before his practices and games.
    DD on the other hand is a much different story! Still working with her on that lesson.

  5. That picture is beautiful! Trying to word out when to get homework done is an ongoing challenge in our house.

  6. Oh I love geisha, anything geisha related. Such a gorgeous image.

  7. Well done J, and well done Lizzie for helping him through! We have half term projects on the Tudors (Boy) and Romans (Girl) looming over us for next week...

  8. Go Lizzie! Fantastic Mum work there - we don't have much homework here yet - but I'm taking notes from this post!

  9. thanks soooo much for your kind words about my layout! i think "expensive machines" applies to everyone yes haha!! :)


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