Advice from an experienced tutor on how to fight the homework blues
I have been teaching for 20 years. Homework time in my house is a lovely, relaxed experience in which me and my kids bond over our love of learning. I am always confident they will be going back to school fully prepared and happy that we have consolidated what they have been taught in school. My child is homework champion!
Oh how I wish the above statement was true. The truth is that often parents and homework are not a match made in heaven, even if you do possess the teaching skills I have. Why is homework so difficult and stressful for some parents and children? Me included!
I personally feel it is due to the fact you are just too close to your child. You know what you want them to achieve. You expect them to work independently and understand everything they have been taught in school. But, you are their parent, not their teacher and home is not school. It is where they feel they can be their true selves. If they are finding something difficult then this is where the stress is going to show and you are the person who is going to take the brunt of that stress.
However, homework is an important part of your child’s education. It gives you a chance to become involved in the learning process and a good homework routine from an early age will develop good study habits that will help your child later on in their school careers when they are sitting exams and writing coursework. There are things you can do to make the whole process easier. So don’t stress!
Here are our top tips to becoming a homework champion
Establish a study routine at the beginning of term and stick to it. Discuss what you expect from them when they get home from school. What time will the homework be completed in the week and how much time will they spend on activities like watching T.V or playing on the Playstation. Set clear ground rules from the beginning and you will find it much easier to get everything completed without any unexpected tears or protests.
The amount of time a Primary school aged child spends on homework should increase with age. In P1 and P2 this might be 15-20 minutes per week but I would also recommend that you set aside some more time to practise reading together. Perhaps sharing a book at bedtime. Increase the time to 30 minutes 2 to 3 times a week week in P3 and P4 , focusing on reading, mental maths skills and spelling. By P5 to P7 this should increase to 45 minutes 3 times a week.
Remember to encourage your child to read for enjoyments sake. If you make sure they have access to a range of books that excite their interest, reading homework will never be a chore.
Try and keep homework as stress free as possible. If your child is aware of your own anxieties about how well they are performing they may become stressed and switch off learning altogether. Find a quiet time and place. Let your child work independently but be on hand to help if they start to struggle. Make sure you never tell your child the answer just to get the homework finished. Instead, explain how they might find the answer and guide them to the right solution. If your child is really struggling with any aspect of their homework make sure you communicate this to their teacher. Remember the purpose of homework is to practise what they have learned at school allowing the teacher to evaluate if the child is capable of doing it on their own.
Remember the golden rule of homework
If you sense a fight brewing then step out of the ring! If you and your child are frequently locking horns over homework then take a step back. Ask your spouse or a grandparent to help out. If you follow our top tips you will be well on your way to become a homework champion!