Very few children have the maturity and motivation to rush home after a whole day at school and say, “Oooh I can’t wait to sit down and do my homework!” Parents need to consistently guide their children to establish productive homework habits.
Homework is certainly a topic I have thought a lot about!! I spent 8 years handing out homework as a class teacher, the past 16 years as a parent educator discussing homework and most importantly putting it all into practice on a daily basis with my own 4 children at home.
What is the parent’s role?
- Homework is for children not for parents!!
- Train your children in productive study habits so they learn vital life skills such as independence, organisation, time management, perseverance, focus, problem solving.
- Model a passion for learning and show an interest in what they are doing.
- Understand the school homework policy, monitor homework set and check it is completed and handed in.
- Work as a team with the school/tutor.
With regards to homework set by tutors, I have found with my own children that if they have a really good relationship with their tutor then they are more keen to do the homework. This is because they enjoy the lessons and feedback they receive. Also feedback on homework set by tutors tends to be more immediate and detailed than what they would usually receive from the class teacher. The benefit of teaching just one student is that tutors can be better placed to ensure the homework is pitched at exactly the right level for each student so they don’t feel as frustrated if the work set is too difficult or too easy.
- Have a clear homework timetable stating exactly when, where, and how long homework should take. If they have no homework ensure they read daily.
- Set time limit for each task (use kitchen timer).
- Ensure they have a healthy snack or dinner before starting.
- Build in active breaks if necessary and divide longer projects into manageable chunks.
- Eliminate distractions, particularly younger siblings and any form of screen if not required for the homework.
- Homework happens before anything fun.
- Usually better to tackle the hardest subject first so they don’t feel demoralised and frustrated.
- Descriptively praise and encourage every step in the right direction. For example, “You got all your homework out without having to be reminded. That shows real maturity.”
- Reflectively listen to how they are feeling. For example: “I understand that you would much rather play on your Ipad than do your homework.”
- Agreed rewards for completing homework such as earning screen time.
- Natural consequences if homework is not completed in the allotted time. Such as they have to miss a break and complete it in school.
- Remain calm and try not to blame, criticise, lecture, nag, repeat or remind!
Three step approach to completing homework independently
- Chat through the homework with the child. Ask leading questions to guide them and ensure they understand what they need to do and how to do it. Ask don’t tell.
- Child has a go at doing the homework alone. Ignore any delaying tactics and do not engage with them during this time.
- Review the homework. Parent and child find three good things about it to descriptively praise and then each mention 2 things that could be improved. Don’t correct all the homework. Teachers/tutors need to get a real sense of what a child is able to do independently.
Rachel Vecht runs Educating Matters which delivers seminars to thousands of parents in the workplace, schools and homes on many education related and general parenting topics. Find out more at www.educatingmatters.co.uk
Educating Matters and Newman Tuition are organising an evening workshop on Wednesday 22nd March, at a North London venue, for parents, offering further advice on the role of homework and how to help you children do it in the most effective way. For more information please contact [email protected] or call 020 3198 8006.