Helping Your Child with Homework
From their very first day, children will bring work home from school – reading and number work in the early years, then spelling and writing tasks and right through to larger more complex projects for older children. Homework is a part of school life and it can be tempting to rush in and help them if they are struggling but this is one time where helping them doesn’t benefit them in the long term.
How Much Homework Help Should You Give?
- Reading. Listening to your child read every day is a great way to be involved in their education. Quality one-to-one time with them is of great importance so make time every night to show you are enjoying it.
- Spellings. Learning to spell new words doesn’t need to be boring or repetitive. Play the part of quiz show host and put on your best voice so they can spell their way to the jackpot. Buy some stickers and reward the effort made so your child doesn’t lose interest.
- Sit nearby with a task of your own to show them they aren’t missing something interesting in the other room
- Remove distractions so they can concentrate and so homework doesn’t take too long
- Praise throughout the task, not just at the end to keep them motivated.
- Watch for signs of them being tired and take a break if needed.
- If they ask for help, don’t be tempted to tell them the answers, look at what they have achieved so far and lead their thoughts in the right direction.
- Encourage your child to set aside their homework time before dinner or play so they can relax once it is done. Offer advice on why it’s best not to leave things to the last minute.
- Keep younger siblings away from them so they can work without distractions.
- Set up the right environment, good lighting, a table and comfortable chair and the right equipment such as pens, pencils, ruler and a calculator if required.
- Offer a snack and drink so there is no reason to lose focus.
- If they struggle, suggest ways they can help themselves. Would a dictionary or thesaurus be useful? Time on the computer to research a topic? Ask them to attempt the work before asking for your help, it may just be lack of confidence.
- If you do assist them, don’t offer the answers but teach them how to solve their problem themselves. Praise when they achieve success and build up their confidence.
It is hard to see your child struggle and become frustrated. Rushing in to make things better can be an easy option but teaching them that mum or dad will always be there to do it for them can knock their confidence. By sitting back and teaching the skills needed to find the answers themselves you will have given them a valuable life skill that will last them right through into adulthood.
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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer