Even though having homework is a distant memory to many of us, I’m sure we can all agree that it wasn’t our favourite part of being at school. And, I’m pretty sure children these days have SO much more of it to contend with, it seems that the school day doesn’t have enough hours in it now to fit everything in.
Shaping your child’s experience of homework can do a lot to form the way they view tasks, deadlines and quality of work so it’s very important that a positive spin is placed on it. Whether they need to memorise the periodic table, write a short story or construct a killer castle for their latest history assignment, you need to available to support them when and in what ever way they need.
As well as your attitude towards homework, there’s also the space in which your children have to complete it.
Here’s four important points to keep in mind:
The power of incentives
The hope is that your children will enjoy most of their homework and see their tasks outside of school as a part of everyday life instead of an ongoing slog. However, if you’re faced with resistance, then you’ll need to up your game with incentives.
The ‘homework first, play later’ rule is a must if you are to ensure that homework is completed and not worried about the next morning. NetMums lists the essentials for a homework-happy home:-
- Sit at a table with pens, rubbers and paper to hand
- Turn off the TV
- Try to keep brothers/sisters distracted
- Choose a time when your child is best able to work. After a quick snack when you’ve got in from school, or after tea and before bed perhaps?
- Try to stick to the same routine
The routine of a structured homework time won’t always be met with a positive response, and this is when you need to show that hard work does reap a reward. If homework is completed on time then watching TV or playing games on the computer/iPad can be allowed. Or, media aside, you could spend some quality time together after homework completion; baking in the kitchen, playing board games or enjoying some time outside (weather permitting!)
You need to tap into what incentives work for each of your children so that they can see the potential reward at the end of getting their homework done.
Taking an interest goes a long way
Don’t treat homework as your child’s problem. Know what has to be completed and encourage that it gets done. Although they have to learn that homework is their responsibility, having your interest in their daily activities will nurture a positive association with getting work done on time and to a good standard.
You might find it difficult at first to get the balance of being interested and supporting your child to complete their homework, instead of doing some of it for them, but this will come in time. You are navigating them to the right answer, instead of giving them the right answer.
Or, with more creative subjects such as writing or art, you can talk them through their ideas and how they might make a start.
Then, when the homework is complete, they can show you how they got on with it and take pleasure in your praise of good work. And if they haven’t quite grasped it, you can sit with them to lead them to the correct path. Here, your interest and attitude is essential for good results.
If you have more than one child, it can be difficult to entertain one while the other is trying to knuckle down to finish their homework.
Having a permanent space that is sectioned off might be hard to achieve – short of having them work in their bedrooms – unless you have an area of your home that you can transition into separate spaces. Internal bifold doors can be used to section off your kitchen from your dining room or your living room from your dining room; whatever works for your home.
This way, you can set up your older child in an area that is conducive to concentration and creativity while your youngest can enjoy the carefree life of no homework without distracting their sibling.
The Friday night rule
The joy of that ‘Friday feeling’ as school ends for the week will be strong in your children but you need to be strict with one rule, as it really is in their best interests: the weekend begins when homework for Monday is done.
Getting this out-of-the-way as they walk in the door is you looking after ‘future you’. No one wants to be helping children with writing assignments and science homework on a Sunday night, or, even worse, a Monday morning before school!
Get it all done before the weekend officially begins…