Love it or hate it, homework is an inevitable part of school life. If you’re in the privileged position to have a child who likes doing homework it can be a great bonding opportunity and wonderful one-on-one time. However, if your child is less than happy to knuckle down and get their homework done it can feel like an uphill struggle.
We’ve put some tips together on how to make homework as effective and pain-free as possible.
Make it fun
For some children learning doesn’t come easy, for some, it’s a walk in a park. Some have a photographic memory, some like to hear things said out loud, some are visual and some only understand things when they’re written and not shown. One thing that holds all children together is they like to have fun.
Most schools have a standard process for homework where different subjects are set on different days. But these days stay the same each week. So, if you know Wednesday is English, think of all the ways you can make it a fun day that will also cross off the homework.
- Spellings can be done while jumping on the trampoline. For every word spelt right they get an extra five bounces.
- Use alphabet spaghetti to spell out the words they have to learn.
- If spaghetti isn’t their thing, bake cookies and write the words in icing on them.
Simple activities that take their mind off the task in hand and place the emphasis on the fun side of learning will make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
Create a plan
Children thrive on routine. If they know that a certain hour each day is to be dedicated to homework, then they get into a routine. They know what’s expected of them and they know how long they have to do it.
By setting a clear start and end point they will learn valuable time management skills but also know that there’s an end to the work. For most children in primary school, an hour a night will be more than enough; in some cases too much. Obviously when you child gets to secondary school it’s a different ballgame, with many schools now setting up to two hours a night.
This is where planning becomes essential. Help your child with this and ask them what they would feel comfortable doing. Do they want to get it all done in one block or would they rather do an hour, have dinner and then do an hour? Let them feel like they have some control over when it happens, but let them know that once this is agreed, they have to stick to it.
Children can be tired when they get in from school and to have to do further work when they get in is hard on them. Just ask yourself, after a full day of work do you want to have to get in and do more work? However, it’s a part of school life and does teach children to take responsibility for their learning.
Having a reward scheme in place helps them to feel like they’re not only achieving something, but that they are also seeing a non-educational reward. An extra riding lesson, a new set of pens, the chance to choose the film at the weekend. It doesn’t have to be much and it doesn’t have to cost anything. But letting them have something to work for is a great way of showing them you appreciate how much effort they’ve put in.
It’s also important to know when to ask for help. The way children are taught today is dramatically different to how we were taught and how our parents were taught before us. Technology in the classroom, the types of books, grammar and even the names of certain words and patterns have changed totally.
Most parents have had to Google the English terms now taught to our children from as young as five – a fronted adverbial anyone?
A lot of schools will host key stage evenings where they effectively teach the parents, before they teach the children, how to do something. They’ll show you the equipment they use to count, the tools they use to help them to spell and the different processes they go through in class. If, however, your school doesn’t do this, ask for a lesson with your child’s teacher or worksheets you can run through at home.
The first step of being able to help your child with their homework is being able to understand it in the first place. Once you understand it and how they’re meant to do it and you are familiar with the processes and tools available, you can think of fun and engaging ways to do it at home. You can also raise any issues with your child’s teacher on other ways your child might find it easier to learn. If, for example, they’re a visual child, simply writing it down might not help, but making words out of blocks or letter magnets, might.
It’s never going to be easy, but by integrating some of the above it might be a little less of a struggle.