Few kids will tell you they ‘love’ doing homework, and if you’ve ever found it a struggle to motivate them, you’re not alone! Nonetheless, doesn’t have to be a chore, with tempers fraying as you try and get them to turn off the TV and do some sums.
In fact, homework can be a positive thing for you and your child. It’s an opportunity to solve problems together, to bond and to learn more about their day. Besides being a requirement, homework can help your kids learn about time management, become responsible for their own learning and means they should retain more of what they’ve learnt at school.
Let’s look at three things you can do to make doing homework a breeze.
1. Plan a schedule together in advance
Planning a homework schedule together is vital for making homework less of a chore. If your child feels like she or he has some control over when they’ll do homework and how much they have to do, they’ll feel a lot happier about it (indeed, a lot of tantrums about homework are really about control!). So, how should you do this?
Almost every school provides a homework timetable, and you can request a copy from teachers or make a copy of your child’s at the beginning of term. Sit down with them and plan how much homework they will do each night at the start of each new term – and agree on when and how much they will have to do every night (ideally, they should do homework right after school so it’s out the way).
Planning in advance in this way will make everybody’s life so much easier during term-time. You will know exactly how much homework is being done, and when. At the same time, it will feel fair to your kids, as they have agreed to complete the work at the time you both agreed on.
Better still, if you can estimate how long pieces of homework will take to complete, you can plan to do other fun things with the kids after they have finished their homework. This will help them to relax before going to bed, making stressed nights full of homework-related drama a distant memory.
2. Remember that completing homework is not their ‘job’
Your children aren’t being paid an hourly rate to comment on poems or answer questions about medieval kings! The purpose of homework is to help them retain knowledge and develop certain skills. It isn’t about spending hours on end doing drills.
Many schools advise that individual homework tasks take no more than 30-40 mins, even at KS3. If tasks are repeatedly taking longer than that, encourage your child to speak to their teachers about the issues they are having with homework and be prepared to speak to the teachers yourself if required. Homework should never take up entire evenings – not only will that cause your child a lot of stress, it might also be counterproductive since they might end up tired the next day.
3. Applaud achievement
Achievement in homework is not necessarily about getting awarded top marks for every assignment. An achievement could just be them writing a side of A4 and handing it in on time. Nobody knows your child better than you, so make sure that you congratulate them each time they demonstrate a new level of progress in their education, through teachers’ feedback on their homework. Clear vocal praise for completing work will give your child a lot of encouragement and mean they feel good about doing homework too.
4. Use writing tools that are fit for purpose.
Giving your child a writing pencil that fits their hand means they will be able to control and grip the pencil better. This will give them more confidence when writing, it will enable them to write for longer periods and it will help them to learn to write more quickly. This will mean that homework becomes less of a strain on both the hands and the mind, and more of an enjoyable exercise to complete.
Homework doesn’t need to be a struggle. By following these four tips, you can help your child with their learning and ensure they develop a number of important skills too.