Has your child recently started school? Here’s how to help your child with homework
School homework is a subject that is likely to come up sooner or later once your child starts school, and it's one that most parents are likely to have a strong opinion on. You might love homework or hate it, think your child gets too much or not enough, or opt to skip it entirely.
The amount and type of homework your child gets will vary with age, stage and school. It might be a weekly or daily thing, they might have a lot straight away, or attend a more relaxed environment where there’s more of an emphasis on play.
Whatever your thoughts, it’s likely your child will have a homework project at some at some point, even while they are at primary school.
Why are children given homework?
The basic idea of homework is to emphasise learning that children do at school, build on this with further work at home and let them undertake independent projects outside of the classroom environment. It’s a way of keeping parents in touch with what their child is doing, and also provides a link with school during the holidays, for example,
How can I help my child with homework?
Firstly, make sure they do, it not you. While most parents will end up getting involved with glueing and working out at some point, children will learn nothing if you do it all, all the time. We know, it's tempting, especially if you are a secret perfectionist, and if there is a competitive homework-off between parents. But teachers can tell!
If they can’t or won’t do homework completely independently - yet - sit with them, talk it through, plan out what they need to do first. Then take them through the steps but make sure they do the work.
Have a designated space for homework. If there’s no space in their room for a desk, don’t panic - it’s fine for them to sit at the kitchen table, for example, or anywhere you’re on hand to help.
Don’t put it off! We’ve all done it, both with our own and our children’s homework. But mornings are stressful enough without running around filling in worksheets or taping sticks together to make a last-minute medieval village.
Reward good work, and don’t demotivate if it's not right, it’s demoralising.
Have reasonable expectations - not many children want to sit for hours and work out pages of complicated maths problems or comprehension essays. Do it in chunks, or at a time when they are more likely to pay attention (whenever that may be!)
Try and make it fun. In case of learning things like time tables, look for videos or songs that make it memorable and fun. Look for online resources that do this - the BBC has a brilliant Super Movers section which encourages active learning which you can do at home.
Talk to their teacher. If you feel there’s too much homework, or they are struggling to complete it, or it’s infringing on valuable family time, tell them. Most schools will be really flexible so it’s worth trying to come to an agreement.
Make reading a regular habit
Whatever your thoughts on homework, and if you chose to skip it or not, it’s important to regularly read with your child, while they learn to read and even beyond. Sit with them each day to read their phonics books and other books you enjoy. Even when they can read independently, it’s still important to sit and read with them. Everyone enjoys a good story, especially at bedtime.