Homework is not an easy job to tackle – it wasn’t when you were a student; it wasn’t when your grandma did her 11+; nor is it a pleasant surprise at the dinner table today.
It is very important that we help children with their homework, but we must remember to do it in a manner that develops and maintains effective study habits first and foremost.
So where should you start?
Experts believe that a half an hour break after school allows the child to get some of their busybody energy out, ready to regroup and focus on completing their homework. Most importantly, they highlight the necessity to make this time screen free, so no TV or computer games (unless you want a battle before the war).
Just as we teach our English students – planning is key. At the beginning of the school year, sit down with your child and help them pick out 2 or 3 goals they’d like to achieve in their subjects. Allow them to do most of the choosing, as they may be better at identifying their weaknesses. Similarly, the child may be more open to addressing those weak spots if they feel as though they haven't been forced upon them. This is also the case when it comes to choosing a study space; allow the child to determine where they are most comfortable (even if it is the living room floor) to maximise homework success.
Whether it’s a Tuesday evening or a Sunday morning, choose a time that you can stick to, in order to allow your child to get used to a homework routine. Despite the popular misconception, children indeed like to have structure and are more likely to cooperate if they are aware of when their homework time is going to be. It is also a good idea to ensure that such time coincides with quiet family time, so that the child can feel confident that they are not missing out on any fun activities (which will, once again, aid their ability to focus on their homework).
Your child says: “I need help!”
If your child asks for assistance with their homework, of course it’s OK to help. It is key, however, to make sure that such help is not counterproductive. Firstly, don’t over proofread their work – a good homework grade is not worth sacrificing the child’s understanding. Secondly, if they are doing Maths homework and didn’t quite master the art of grid multiplication and you then decide to teach them the column method (which, of course, you feel is the better, easier, more precise version), you may end up leaving them even more confused. Help the child to help themselves and encourage them to speak to their teacher who can then explain the method again; this will also help your child to feel empowered and in charge of their own learning.
You say: “I need help!”
If you are struggling to keep up with the routine and goal achievement at home, a study area such as our Homework Hub or a few sessions with a tutor may be the boost that your child needs.