We all know that homework is an integral part of a child’s education. It has long been a daily concern for children at secondary school, and in more recent years it has increased in importance at primary level as children are being asked to do more and more. Given the central role it plays and the effectiveness it no doubt has, (for excluding the possibility of teachers getting meaner, why else would it have been increased?), I dedicate this blog post to how parents can help their child get the most out of this fundamental educational tool.
Making sure your child sticks to a routine
When your child does his homework should ideally be decided by when he will do it best. If this isn’t possible though, due to unavoidable restrictions in the form of your own schedule and/or managing the schedule of your other children, making sure that some kind of homework routine is maintained nonetheless, is crucial – not only for ensuring that homework gets done but that it gets done well, too. Routine is important for children of all ages. For young children it provides a sense of the familiar: they know that this designated time is for homework and as such are more likely to apply themselves; and the same goes for older children too, but what routine also gives them is a work ethic – an understanding of how useful regular work/study is. If your child finds sticking to the routine difficult, some kind of reward policy involving their favourite things in the whole world would probably work.
Involving yourself in the homework
This begins with knowing what homework your child has and when he needs to do it by. Such information should be attainable from his homework diary. Your child is probably required to get it signed by you on a weekly basis, so you should be seeing it every week, but it would be even better if you had a look through it every day – just to keep track of the homework being set. It’s a nice idea to photocopy the timetable and stick it on a kitchen wall somewhere – though this may be more useful for children at primary school. I say this because at secondary level homework is more subject to change: given the greater amount of subjects and teachers (who will sometimes be sharing classes), homework schedules can be a little more complicated. And on this point, if you have a child in year 7 it would be all the more helpful to go through his homework diary, as in the process of getting used to a totally different school structure, year 7 students can often fail to keep track of the new homework routine. All in all, having the ability to know what it is your child should be doing for homework of an evening really helps in making sure that it gets done, and that an appropriate time is taken up on it: if the homework is a lengthier one – for whatever reason- you’ll be aware if this, and will know whether enough time has been has passed to warrant the TV going on.
Knowing what it is your child is being asked to do for homework also gives you the chance to help, and lets your child know that you will always be there to help if it’s needed. If what has been set exposes whatever gaps you might have in your own knowledge, don’t be too put off. There is so much great educational material at the click of a google search. Of course this may not be of use if your child is stuck with an A Level Maths question, (I know I wouldn’t have a clue!), but excluding this sort of scenario, if you think you could probably grasp the concepts at hand by doing research online then do so. Even if you’re not sure whether the internet will be able to help still do so, as there’s a good chance you’ll get there together, and anyhow the support will be encouraging.
Involving yourself also means you can track their progress and give positive feedback. And this would be particularly encouraging when it comes to a topic that they find tricky. If there is no progress, your oversight enables you to get some help, and before it’s too late. Maybe by contacting school. Or by considering private tuition.