Homework. You’re either for it or against it. But one thing is for sure – it is here to stay. The purpose of homework is to help reinforce what our kids learn at school. Think about when you learn to ride a bike or to juggle balls. You don’t just ‘get it’ because you did it once. The skills are perfected with practice. Well, schoolwork is just the same. With extra practice, our kids can really solidify their grasp of concepts that they are learning about in school. Some parents are filled with dread when it is time to help with homework, but it need to not be a painful experience. If you follow these 5 things that you should be doing to help your child with homework, you might even end up enjoying it!
1. Get into a routine
When your kid comes home from school, do they go straight for the remote control and watch tv? Or do the head straight for the iPad or games console? If so, I can bet you have a tough time trying to pull them away from the fun stuff to get homework done! This time after school can become lost and before you know it, dinner time rolls around and by bedtime they are scrambling to try to get homework done for the next day. Uh-oh! This can all be avoided by creating a simple routine. As soon as you et home, get the books out and make a start. Reward your child with little snack breaks every 20-30 mins (if they have a heavy workload). By creating a routine such as this, it will become a habit and soon homework time will become a lot less stressful.
2. Positivity breeds positivity
When you hear “I can’t do this maths homework!” it is so tempting if it isn’t your strong point to turn around and give affirmation to that statement by telling your child that you “couldn’t do maths either” when you were at school. All that does is tell your child that it is beyond not only them but also you. They might as well not try and just give up, right? Wrong! Try focusing on the parts they can do and talk through how to do the problem. If you are not sure yourself, don’t worry. Tell them that you will work it out together. The internet is an amazing source of help, parents! You will find step by step guides to almost any maths problem types. You can find out what the grammatical term means. You can even run an essay through Grammarly or a spell checker. Technology can be helpful educationally, and not just for those games that your child will deserve to play when homework is finished. And, by the way, research has shown that children whose parents who are actively involved in their child’s work do better at school. Win-win!
3. Make sure that homework time is quiet time
If your child is sitting at the kitchen table and the television is blaring in the living room, you can be sure their concentration will not be on the work they should be completing. Likewise, if the iPad is on the table playing YouTube videos, guess where the concentration will be? Make sure homework time really is quiet time, away from noisy siblings, TVs, music (unless it is relaxing instrumental music, which is known to help aid concentration). If you can, sit at the table with them and be there to help explain – not do – anything they find tricky. If you can’t sit with them, make sure you are within earshot to help when needed.
4. Be prepared
Make sure before homework time begins that your child has everything they need to complete all of their tasks. Help them plan what needs to be done and put tasks in order. If it helps, draw up a quick plan with them about how long each task should take and ye order in which they should be tackled. Having this checklist can help keep them on task and give them a sense of achievement when they can tick them off the list as they complete them.
5. Motivate through ownership
The teacher set your child their homework tasks, not you. Therefore, you need to step back when you feel you are fighting or nagging your child about their work. I read somewhere about homework fights being like a dance – as a parent you have the choice to change the steps or stop the dance altogether. If they are not prepared to accept that they are doing something wrong, don’t hit them with ‘I’m only trying to help’. The message they really hear is that they are not good enough and they can’t do it. Step back. Try to show them a way that it can be done or show them a video online. If they don’t co-operate, don’t fight. Your child needs to take responsibility for their actions. If it is not done, or not done well, speak to the teacher and discuss the issue. When a child is motivated to work, they will do it for their reasons, not through fear of you shouting at them or nagging them. Help them to make that transition by stepping back when it gets tough.
If you feel your child could do with a little extra support, Emerald Education Centre, is here to help. We offer online tuition and in-person lessons at our centre in Bundoran, Donegal. For more information about how we can help YOUR child, please do get in touch with Elaine Lingard at firstname.lastname@example.org, call or message on (00353) 083 8550210, check out our Facebook page or visit our website.