Whether your child goes to school and has homework, or whether they are home educated, they need encouragement to achieve their work.
A question commonly directed at home educating parents, often from parents with children in school who are struggling to get their child to complete their homework, is how to get children to do it!
Obviously, home educating is very different to homework, and every family is different, has different routines, different priorities, so there is no straight forward answer to this question. And every homeschool family approaches learning from a different perspective anyway, some in formal ways with set times, others with a much more child-led approach where learning and study is interspersed with everyday life experiences. But what is common among most home educating families is the value and priority attached to learning. Whichever way it’s approached, this priority means that the climate in which the children learn is encouraging, supportive, respectful, and allows input from the children.
Some home educators’ approaches to ‘getting them to do it’, for want of a better phrase, could equally be applied to doing homework. (Learn more about homeschooling here)
Very few home educating families have a ‘school room’ in which to do their learning, but it’s often the case that a space is provided and arranged to support their activities, with facilities to hand. It’s not necessarily a quiet space, (some children learn better with noise, music, fidgeting), but it’s an available space, like the table in the kitchen for example, or bedroom as they get older.
Equally some prefer to work on the floor, on the bed, in front of the telly and although we might think that won’t work, it does for some. I’ve known some kids successfully accomplish their work in any of these scenarios.
A climate of encouragement and respect for learners and their work attaches importance to it and this helps build a climate of respect for education. If learners see it as important (and why; because it’s life enhancing) then they’re more likely to engage, even with less appealing tasks. So showing interest and discussing what’s to be done, why, how and when it’s to be achieved, maybe suggesting an appealing activity to follow that the child can look forward to, attaches respect and significance to it.
Routines and timetables – doing the same thing at the same time each day – sometimes helps those children who thrive with structure. Some don’t, but for those who do a set time for their learning at home can help motivation, making it what they do at that time.
Sometimes company helps; an adult sitting alongside helping or working at their own tasks, can be encouraging and creates a climate of doing stuff together. Not all children want it but the shared experience gives moral support. The drawback to this comes if a parent takes over, which needs to be avoided. For example, if the child needs to know something, teach them the skills to find out rather than just offering the answer.
Many parents of school children become stressed and anxious about achieving learning tasks. That’s understandable with busy family routines and time flying by.
That’s equally the same for home educating parents and is something they have to manage. But the bottom line is that stress and tension make learning unpleasant and the child resistant, so we need to find ways around it.
Ultimately we want learning to be a pleasant and uplifting experience so that children enjoy it, feel the benefits and consequently are able to engage with it as long as they need to.
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