I don’t know about you, but as a parent I found homework time stressful, and the cause of many a family argument.
Most children they dread homework – who wants to be reminded that you have forgotten it or being told that’s incorrect, and you have to do it again. While the world won’t crumble if your child does not deliver perfectly written and presented homework every single day of their school life, if they do fall into the habit of forgetting to do their homework, it can do more than cause embarrassment; it can affect their confidence and, in the long term, their exam performance.
As children make their way through the different school years, information is no longer ‘fed’ to them and they are required to do extra research and project work at home. Therefore, obtaining good marks depends on consistent work and adequate time management.
Parents have an important role to play in all this, since establishing a good routine for schoolwork is very much like establishing good sleeping routines and setting meal times – the sooner children begin, the better.
Follow these tips and ensure your child makes the most of the time they invest in homework:
- Stick to a strict timetable: When children get home, do not allow them to head straight for their mobile device or the television. Let them have a snack, and a few minutes later, let the homework session begin. They can follow their other interests, after homework is done. In the same way that adults need to learn how to meet conflicting demands of work, the gym and home life, children, too, must understand that study is comes before their free time.
- Work out the ideal amount of time your child should spend on homework: Most experts say that KS1 children should spend no more than 10 to 20 minutes on homework, while those in KS2 can work for between 30-60 minutes, and older children often need to invest even more time on home study. However, the ideal amount of time needed to process information can vary greatly depending on the individual child. See how much your child is willing to do; if they are interested in a topic and show an interest in delving more deeply into the subject matter, don’t cut them short; however, if they are tired or losing interest, don’t force them to do more than they can.
- Encourage them to take breaks and pursue hobbies and sporting interests: Older children preparing for GCSEs and other significant exams can tend to overdo it, sitting by their desk for hours on end. Make sure they take breaks and exercise every few hours, and try to ensure they have a healthy social life. Often, the most successful students aren’t those who sacrifice their personal life for their studies; they simply know how to manage their time well.
- Guide them but don’t do their work for them: Solving a mathematical problem for a child or dictating a sentence for an essay may earn your child a positive comment on their homework book but it will hurt them in the long run, since they will never learn how to think independently or believe in their own ability to answer questions based on their own knowledge and effort. While younger children may need more help with their work, older children should be given more freedom, with parents checking on their progress every once in a while to ensure that work is correct and presented in an attractive manner. Try to help them find mistakes you have spotted, but don’t give them the correct answer; encourage them to discover it for themselves.
- Find interesting resources for your children: Try to find fun resources that will complement the material children have been given at school. We have provided lists of recommended resources in our blog, such as the BBC’s Bitesize website, which provides fun interactive games for a host of subjects, including Mathematics, Science and Literacy. Bitesize has resources for all ages and stages – KS1, KS2, KS3 and even GCSEs! In addition to popular websites, do a little reading on useful teaching materials (Montessori makes wonderful materials which help children learn maths at a very young age). Even YouTube can be helpful in some cases. Check out this fun video on how to shortcut multiplication tasks using Mayan maths! If your child is reticent to learn a particular subject, you will have to be particularly creative. For instance, reluctant readers are often attracted by the comically irreverent works of Roald Dahl. Try to look for funny, visually stunning books and poems that will make reading a pleasure, not a chore.
- Create a pleasant area for your child to do homework: Make sure your child has a comfortable desk in a well-lit room. Make the area as appealing as you can, with space for books, computer equipment, etc. Ensure that other family members respect your child’s private space and do not distract them during study time.
- Work alongside your child: Children in KS1 need more guidance, but even KS2 kids like working near their parents. While your child is completing homework tasks, do some work on your computer next to them or catch up on some reading. It is a good way to drive home the point that we all need to learn on a daily basis.
- Reward your child: Let your children know that you are taking them to their favourite park or play area because they have been so consistent with their homework and have made such a big effort in specific areas (e.g. tell them how wonderful it is that they have improved their handwriting or worked hard to find answers to comprehension questions).
- Read with your child: Children in KS1 love reading books with their parents. Take turns reading paragraphs or pages and select fun books that will provide lots of laughs. Do some shopping for the type of books you think they would like – e.g. dinosaurs, cars or characters from their favourite cartoon series. Consult reader’s forums to see other parents’ opinions on books that have caught your eye.
- Communicate with the teacher: Write notes to your child’s teacher and if the school has a communications book, use it. Let your teacher know the books that your child enjoyed, and inform them of any struggles your child may have.
I hope that you have found this blog post useful. If you have any further tips that you would like to share with us, please do via the comments below.