Whether you agree with it or disagree with it, children get homework.
I am actually all for homework in moderation. I don’t believe for one minute that children should be studying for hours after school, but I do believe that 20 minutes or so of homework each night for children is absolutely fine. I think it helps to consolidate learning and encourages parents to sit down with their children and get involved and be a part of their education. However, sometimes homework can prove really stressful for both children and parents, and it really is no fun at home. In fact, when this happens it becomes a really negative experience and completely wipes out all of the benefits.
Here are a few tips to make it a smoother and more enjoyable experience:
- Provide a productive environment
Ideally, this would be a quiet and well it area, away from distractions such as TV, music and general noise. Of course in a busy family home, this isn’t always possible. Harrison does his homework at the dining table. When he is doing his homework, the TV goes off and I encourage Alex to sit at the table with us to do some drawing or a jigsaw, so that he doesn’t distract Harrison, and I can focus on helping him.
- Have everything to hand
There’s nothing more distracting that to discover half way through homework they need a sharpener, or a ruler, and there isn’t one to be found anywhere. We now have a wicker basket with all the stationery in – old tins and playdough tubs hold felt tips, pencils, crayons, scissors, rulers etc, and we just pop it on the table ready to work. It doesn’t look pretty at the moment, but that’s a rainy day activity for the future! One thing we also are thinking about getting are some mini whiteboards. All schools have these now, for practising on, brainstorming ideas etc. We did have a couple before a certain little toddler got hold of a permanent marker pen and decided to practise his scribbling skills, and they were so useful for helping with homework!
- Find the right time
This can be a tricky one. After school can be a rush trying to fit in some chill out time, homework, reading, dinner and baths before bed – and if you have after school clubs to factor in as well it can be a squeeze. Homework needs concentration, so find a time when they are most alert. For Harrison, that is pretty much straight after school. He has a glass of milk and a snack and then gets on with it. Some children need that time to wind down a little – they are all different. It also needs to be a time when you can give a bit of attention – when you’re rushing around trying to get dinner done is probably not the best time!
- Praise effort and achievement
Everyone thrives on praise, no matter how old they are. For children, it is particularly important to praise the effort they put in as well as what they achieve. Maybe they are really struggling to understand that division by chunking (who doesn’t?!), and maybe they’ve made a few errors, but make sure you praise them for trying their best at it,
- If they are struggling, move on
Homework should be consolidating work that they have done in school. If they are finding the homework hard, the teacher needs to know. Doing it for them or telling them the answers so they get it all right is helpful for no one. Send a note in or speak to the teacher explaining what they found hard, so the teacher can go back over it with your child. You never know – the rest of the class may have had the same problem!
What are your tips for making homework less stressful?