School pupils in the UK, and the parents that help them, get more homework hours per week than many other European countries. Getting kids to tackle homework can be stressful at times, but there are ways of creating hassle-free homework time. Give children the right tools, create good homework habits and stand back – it’s time (for them) to get to work.
Here’s how to help with homework:
1. Make a plan
Discuss homework tasks for the week ahead and decide when they will be completed and in what order. Empower your children by involving them in the planning process – children are more likely to co-operate if they feel that they have been heard. This is especially true for older children and teenagers. Make a chart together to help them get organised.
2. Create a study zone
Set up an area in a quiet part of the house where your child can complete homework tasks. Make sure there are pens, paper, glue, scissors and other useful supplies within reach, so they can settle down to study without interruption.
3. Set a routine
Some children work best earlier on in the evening, and others need some downtime before beginning their homework activities. Decide when is the best ‘study time’ for your child and try and stick to this for a consistent routine.
4. Minimise distraction
Turn off the TV and put the mobile phone out of reach! If your child needs to use the internet for research, monitor how much time they spend surfing the web and make sure that the sites are relevant.
5. Provide ideas and make suggestions
Talk the homework tasks through with your child and suggest ways of tackling the work. Mind maps are a great way of creating a visual plan before starting a task.
6. Motivate and monitor
Check on progress and provide positive reinforcement. Don’t hover – be available but encourage them to be independent and to ‘have a go’ before you dive in and take over the task.
7. Make study time effective
Structure 5 to 15-minute breaks into study time, with a clear beginning and a clear end. This is a particularly useful method if children have several different pieces of homework to complete in one evening. Before they take a break, ask them to have the next piece of work ready so that they don’t lose momentum.
If your child is getting stuck on a task and becoming frustrated, sit next to them and talk it through. Encourage research skills by showing them how to look for helpful information and guidance in a textbook or on the internet. It’s helpful to demonstrate a method for working out a mathematical or science-based problem and then let them have a go. No one likes to see their child getting frustrated, but simply doing it for them is not going to help in the long run.
9. Brush up your skills
Struggling to explain long division? The internet is packed full of tools that can help you to help your child. For example, Youtube is a great resource as you can access video clips that visually explain subject matter – such as how to work out math problems, use punctuation effectively or write a Shakespeare essay. BBC Bitesize is a brilliant website that offers clear and well-explained examples and in-depth subject knowledge that can help both parents and students to understand curriculum topics.
10. Avoid bribery
It can be extremely tempting to bribe your child with promises of sweets and toys, or extra pocket money as ‘rewards’ for completing their homework. But, children will come to expect these extra treats if it becomes the norm. Instead of bribing them, explain that working hard is part of life and will reap the rewards in the long run.
11. Give them a break
Let your child decide on a homework-free night and give them a say in how they use this free time. This will make for a balanced week – with a good mix of study and leisure time, and take some of the pressure off, particularly for older children who may be studying for exams.