Homework is a challenge for many parents, especially as their child starts to move up through the year groups from reception. All parents have dreaded that last-minute homework on a Sunday evening after a busy weekend, when neither you or your child is in the right frame of mind to practice spellings, times tables or Google what Romans ate for breakfast!
There are several techniques you can use to ensure that this Sunday night drama is not a regular occurrence and help to encourage your child to not see homework as a tick box exercise, but to actually enjoy it and make it part of their home routine.
Establish a study zone
Create a place in your home where you feel your child can do their homework with no interruptions or distractions – definitely away from the television or switch the television off, also encourage younger siblings not to interrupt or even give them their own homework task such as playdough or drawing! This study space should have a clear work surface where your child can sit comfortably, has good lighting and all the tools they need, for instance their pens, work books and a dry-wipe whiteboard for planning.
Chat to your child about their homework in a relaxed environment, maybe when you are discussing what they did at school that day. Ask questions such as, what homework they have been given, what task do they need to do their homework, when does it need to be done by and how you can help them.
Get your child to write their homework down on a planner, such as a homework diary or on their dry-wipe whiteboard. Having a visible list of what they have to do, will encourage your child to get it done.
By encouraging your child to plan, it will help your child to take responsibility for organising, planning and doing their homework. If the homework is based around topic work, then encourage your child with their ideas at the planning stage. Give you child ongoing encouragement by praising them when they have put in a lot of effort or when their homework is tidily presented. If they are practising spellings, times tables or handwriting skills then support them by repeating them daily, giving encouragement on the number of right answers going up.
Having a set time for homework avoids that last-minute panic. Establish a routine around a time that works best for your child and the family involve your child in this decision.
As with everything else treat each of your children as individuals in the homework arena, each child will have very different learning styles and sometimes what works for one child does not work for others. Some children enjoy support whereas others prefer to get on with it and ask what you think afterwards. For example, my son is a lone learner who has the ability to absorb information by reading and writing, whereas my daughter needs some physical interaction. When she was in KS1, my husband would quite often come home to the entire contents of the cutlery drawer being on our kitchen table and us in the process of learning division and multiplication!
A love of reading is a gift you can give your child, reading not only gives them the excitement of a fictional story but is a tool to increase their knowledge on any topic they are interested in. By reading regularly with your child and being a role model by reading yourself, this will influence them to be independent readers from an early age.
All these techniques go hand-in-hand and by establishing them within your family routine when your child is young, this will give you more of a chance to have a stress-free Sunday evening.
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