We are often asked by parents about the best way they can help their children with their homework.
There are many schools of thought about the benefits of homework. Many people think that homework teaches children how to take responsibility for tasks and how to work independently. The fact that the routine of homework is established will serve them well as they proceed through school and indeed, through life. Homework helps children learn how to plan and organise tasks, manage time, make choices and problem solve. These are all skills that contribute to effective functioning in the adult world of work and families.
It may seem obvious that the younger the child, the less time the child should be expected to spend on doing homework. It seems reasonable to expect that year 1 children should only have 10 minutes of homework per night. Fir Year 2 children the homework could be increased to 20 minutes and so on through the subsequent year groups.
My first reaction therefore is to advise you to ask the class teacher for a homework timetable. This means that you know to ask your child for a particular subject for each night and it does prevent arguments. Some children are very willing to do homework but others can be either forgetful or recalcitrant and would prefer to play football or watch TV.
I suggest that the easiest way to ensure that homework is approached in the right frame of mind is to discuss this with your child. All children deserve a break when they get in from school. They may have had a club after school or a sports lesson so they will be tired. It is good to ensure that they have a sandwich or fruit depending upon the time of their evening meal. Starting homework should be done sooner rather than later otherwise the child will be too tired to concentrate. As long as your child knows when he should start it will be much simpler for everyone.
Routines for homework
Where is homework done?
This may depend on the age of the child. Older children generally do best at a desk in their bedroom. This is a quiet location away from the noise of the rest of the household.
Other children become too distracted by the things they keep in their bedroom and do better at a place removed from those distractions, like the dining table. Some children need to work by themselves.
Others, usually younger children, need to have parents nearby to help keep them working and to have help with answering questions.
It may be a good idea to ask your child where the best place is to work. Your child and you need to discuss pros and cons of different settings to arrive at a mutual agreement upon location.
Make your child feel important
It is a good idea to fix the place where homework is done as a ‘special place’ for your child. They should have a table or desk with a chair the right height. Special pencils, coloured pencils, pens, paper clips, ruler, rubber, paper should all be provided. It may be a good idea to have a dictionary, and depending on the age of the child maybe a calculator or perhaps a computer.
It is a good idea to have a notice board so that your child can have a timetable for the week. This should include the school clubs, other clubs, the school homework timetable and any extra work which may be necessary.
I think that some input from an adult is necessary until at least secondary school age. It is gives the child more incentive to enjoy homework and to achieve better results if they can discuss what is expected with a grown up. Spellings do need to be learnt and this is best done orally with an adult.
It is beneficial if a parent can improve the organisational skills of their children by ensuring that they plan their work by suggesting that they divide the time to be spent on all the homework.
If you know that some homework will be asked for, such as a project, the adult could have pictures available to help with illustration, have the correct books to aid research and provide the child with a suitable folder so that the work is presented as well as possible.
Many children will be happy to sit down and complete their homework. They realise that this is beneficial to them and will ensure that they do well at school. Some schools have Hhouse point system and earning these is incentive enough for many pupils.
There are also children not motivated in this way so it is often a good idea for parents to think of incentives to make doing homework a more pleasant task. Some parents and their children decide on elaborate incentives such as a family outing, or a visit to somewhere special. These decisions must be taken by the parent with the child to ensure that the child realises that it is their own decision and their work will ensure that the decision works!
Children only work well when they are fed and have a drink. A drink and a snack after school and before starting any homework will ensure better concentration and the child will be much more affable and content to listen. If there is a great deal of homework it is important to build in breaks and allow children to get a breath of fresh air.
Allow the child to decide which homework to tackle first and discuss before you start how long should be spent on each different homework task.
Homework piling up? Anxious or emotional?
Imagine how they feel! Learn how to help your children with their homework in a way that makes them feel supported. This video offers some tips for creating the right environment and manageable methods for getting it all done.
Subject Homework advice
There are many aspects of the school timetable which can be introduced, reiterated or further established at home. The school day is very busy and a few minutes on a one-to-one basis is a great way of reinforcing a new concept or fact taught at school. Here are some ideas.
It is very important that all children learn to add, subtract, divide and multiply. A little homework on each of these is always beneficial to help your child. Please check with the class teacher that the method you are using at home is the same as the school is teaching.
All children need to know their multiplication tables so it is essential that these are learnt at home. A large chart in the child’s bedroom is great and a few repeated each night will soon ensure success.
Practical maths can be done at home. Play with different shaped blocks so that children can see their shape and learn their names. This can be done by having a wall chart. See more here: Maths Shape
Use scales in the kitchen and bathroom so that children learn about weight and grams and kilograms. Have fun measuring weight, volume and length with your child so that they understand millimetres, centimetres, metres and kilometres. Help Your Child at Home with Measurement.
Allow children to handle money so that they recognise all the coins. Allow them to buy and sell some simple items such as a comic or a newspaper or even better, as a treat, some sweets or ice cream and can work out the correct change.
Most schools send home spellings and it is very helpful if parents ensure that these are learnt. There are many useful spelling rules which parents can introduce to children to help reinforce spelling. Spelling Worksheets.
I think that all children should be read to nightly. It is a lovely relaxing, affectionate way to end the day as a family. They enjoy all sorts of stories from fairy stories to adventure books to books about different countries in the world.
As children grow older it is essential to ensure that they have both fiction and reference books which they can read and browse. I was amazed to find out that a child can actually recognise and name all the flags of the world which he had learnt from a ‘Ladybird Book of Flags’ just for fun!
There are many book lists on Parents in Touch and there are many pages of new books for you to read reviews and select which would appeal to your children.
All children should be encouraged by parents to write ‘Thank you’ letters for presents. In the holidays it is usually a good time to encourage your children to compile a project on either a theme that they are really interested in or on the holiday itself. It is always a good idea to collect postcards, take photographs and other memorabilia to include in any projects that your child might enjoy. This can encourage children to enjoy writing. Try stimulating your child to collate a topic on part of each holiday
Here are some other papers which might help you too. Look for more on the Worksheet Finder.