Helping with Homework
When children have spent a long day in school most simply want to play when they get home and while it is absolutely essential for them to do this, time for homework is important too. Homework consolidates the skills that are learnt in school, giving children a chance to practise things that they might not revisit at school for many weeks or months. Homework gives children a chance to learn and practise skills with a different adult.
Different research studies show different results when it comes to the relationship between pupil achievement and homework. However many parents and teachers would agree that homework is a valuable tool to practise skills learnt in school time. Many would also say that it helps children to develop a responsibility towards their own learning and helps them to become organised and independent learners. These are skills that will support them in their journey into secondary school.
If parents don’t see the importance of homework this can sometimes be mirrored in children’s views and opinions. If a child isn’t enjoying their homework tasks it can be difficult to remain positive about it but it is important to try to do so, otherwise they might have a negative feeling about homework throughout their education.
Homework is an important starting point for developing skills for the working world. There are many jobs that involve research, overtime, additional courses and qualifications and if a young child develops aspirations and has motivation to work hard then they will find these things easier and more enjoyable as they get older and go into the world of work.
What to do if a child is reluctant to do homework
Many children will be reluctant to do their homework at some point in their school life but it’s important that it doesn’t become an ongoing battle. Clear consistent expectations that the work must be completed is important but it is also important to support your child if they are finding the work difficult.
If they are regularly reluctant to do homework it is advisable to talk to your child, and, if possible, their class teacher to find out why. Are they finding the work too difficult? Are they finding it too easy? Are they tired? Have you chosen a good time of day to do the homework? Are they hungry after a long day at school? Or would they just prefer to be doing something else instead? The latter is perhaps the hardest to address but some parents find that a timer helps e.g. when you have done 10 minutes of homework you can have a break and play for 10 minutes then come back and do some more.
It is important that your child has a comfortable and quiet area to do their homework in so that they can concentrate. Support is important but they might also prefer to do it themselves and show you afterwards.
One of the biggest motivators for children is seeing adults inspired by learning. If books and learning are a part of your family life, then they are more likely to adopt it as part of their life too. You could set yourself a task of doing your own homework alongside your child. You might have always wanted to learn a language for example or to find out more about something you heard on the news.
It also helps if you can find ways to make homework fun! You could do this by turning it into a competition with ‘beat the clock’ by creating a challenge to see how many maths calculations can be done in 3 minutes or, if the homework is reading, try creating different voices and accents for the different characters, dressing up or acting out the story.
Usually, children like learning that is fast paced and they enjoy learning through games and competitions. A timer or stop-watch is a great way to keep things fast paced.
What to do if you don’t understand the homework that has been set
There are many differences between our own schooling and how children learn today. This sometimes makes it difficult for parents to understand their child’s homework. This is quite common and nothing to worry about. Your child’s teacher should be more than happy to show you how to do the homework but it is also important to encourage your child to ask if they are unsure about what to do so they can explain it to you when they get home.
The best way to consolidate learning is by teaching someone else so if your child is able to explain the task to you it will become clearer in their own mind. Many homework tasks involve practising things that have been learnt in school so if your child regularly does not know how to complete their homework it is important to speak to their teacher to find out why this might be the case.
What to do if the homework set is regularly too hard or too easy
The homework your child is set will vary in difficulty but will generally be consolidation of what your child is learning in school or research on a new topic. If your child has mastered a particular technique at school then they may find the homework easier. Practise is still important however. If the homework is too difficult your child might not have fully secured the skill during their lesson time.
If homework is regularly not at the right level then it is important to discuss this with the school. If you have concerns that your child is getting too much homework or worry that they don’t get enough, ask for a copy of the homework policy which should make it clear how much homework is to be expected for each age group.