Top Tips to Help Your Kids with Their Homework
Most kids will be more successful at school when their parents take an interest in their school work, including providing support with homework. However, helping with homework can be a challenge to get right. You’ll want to find a balance between your child completing the task correctly and letting them work independently, to improve their understanding and to learn for themselves.
If you’re looking for homework tips for parents, read on for our advice on how to set up a productive study area and how to effectively encourage and support your child’s learning and development.
Create a Study Space
Having a dedicated study space for your child will be a huge motivator for them. It could be a workstation that’s permanently set up ready for work, or you may need to use a space that is sometimes used for other activities.
If the space is to be multi-functional, a storage carry box can be useful for keeping your child’s equipment tidied away when it’s not in use but easily accessible when it’s needed. When it’s time for study, the area should be clear of clutter, with good lighting and the equipment they need to complete their task.
Provide the Right Study Tools
Once you have a study space decided, you should make sure your child has the right equipment to complete their homework. This will include stationery like pens and pencils, and they may also need scissors, a tape dispenser and a waste paper bin, depending on the type of tasks they’ll be doing. You should also provide them with tools to keep organised such as a pen pot to keep their desk clear of clutter. This will help them to stay focused on their work.
They may be provided with workbooks from school, but it can be helpful for them to have an extra notebook for notes that shouldn’t be counted with their homework. You should remember that some tasks may require them to show their working and planning though, so make sure that they know what rough work should be kept separate and what should be included.
Older children may need filing equipment so they can organise their work and their documents. It can be helpful to have folders in different colours for each subject, to make it easy for them to find what they need and file their papers in the right place.
Help with Homework Without Doing it for Them
You should be available to support your child whilst they do their homework, but you should take care that you don’t end up doing the work for them. Younger children might require some more assistance, and you may need to sit with them whilst they work through their tasks.
Older children may just need to discuss the task at the beginning, so they can work out what they need to do. They may then need to come back to you to ask for guidance if they get stuck, so you should stay in the same room or close by so they can speak with you if needed.
If your child gets stuck with their work, collaborate with them rather than just telling them what to do. It can help their understanding if they can work it out for themselves, so ask them questions to try to guide them to the right answer. Sometimes, working together on one problem can help to jog their memory so they can work through the rest on their own.
Sometimes it can be helpful to create a homework plan, particularly if your child has a big project to work on. Discuss what’s required with them and, together, divide the project into smaller chunks. Ask them how long they think might be needed for each chunk and create a timetable to get the project finished before the deadline. This can make a large project much more manageable and working through it with your child will encourage them to complete it.
Identify when Your Child Needs a Break
Keep an eye on your child when they’re working. If they look like they’re really struggling and getting frustrated, it might be time for them to take a break. A change of scenery can be really effective in helping them to reset and be able to come back to the task with a fresh perspective.
You might want to go for a walk with them outside or just sit in another room with a snack. Your child might want to discuss what they’re learning and struggling with, which can help them to work through the problem.
How long your child should spend on home work will differ depending on how old they are. The school will usually give guidance on how much time homework should take. It’s generally advised that younger children should spend 10 to 30 minutes per night and older children might need an hour to two hours per night.
You should monitor how long your child studies and remind them to take a break or come back to the project another day if they have been working too long. This will prevent them from overworking and seeing homework as a chore.
You should aim to reduce distractions for your child, so they can focus on their work. This includes TV, their mobile phone, music, and video games. However, you should bear in mind that different people have different study methods. Some children might work better with some music or ambient noise to help them focus.
Some might like to study in a communal area, whilst others would work better in a quiet, private study zone. Speak to your child about where they would like to work and what sort of environment they need to limit distractions to their work.
Siblings and other members of the household should know that when someone is working in the designated study zone, they shouldn’t be disturbed. If the study area has to be in a communal area, you could use signs to show other people what is expected of them. For example, a green sign could indicate that noise is ok, whereas a red sign might mean that silence is needed when you’re in that area. This can help your child to stay focused on their work.
You should also remember that sometimes technology may be needed for the child to complete their homework. They may need to use their phone or laptop to research something online, or if they need to speak to a classmate for help.
If you’re worried your child will be too easily distracted by other apps on their devices, you should keep an eye on what they’re using. There are apps available that can limit what can be used for certain periods of time, so you can block social media platforms and other websites when your child is studying.
Let Them Decide Their Schedule
Giving your child some autonomy in their homework can be a huge motivator. One way to do this is to let them have a say in their schedule. For example, on a weekend they may have one hour available to do an activity, like play outside or do arts and crafts, and one hour to do homework.
You can let them decide the order they do each activity, with the stipulation that both will need to be done by the end of the day (or by dinner time or bath time – you’ll want to find an end time that means homework can still be completed whilst your child has energy and focus, so not too late into the evening). Your child will be more motivated to do their homework if they have some control over when they can do it.
Younger children may need reminding about how much time they have left to complete their activity and their homework. No matter what age the child is, it can be helpful to keep a visual reminder for them, so they can better keep track of time. You can use a whiteboard to draw up their timetable for the day, so they can see what’s expected of them and a wall clock can help them to see the time.
Our wall clocks are silent, with no ticking noise so they can be used in study areas with minimal distractions. Plus, our Leitz Cosy Wall Clock comes with a dry-wipe pen so you can write onto the clockface when your child needs to start their homework, making it clear and simple for them to keep to their schedule.
Communicate with the School
You should speak to your child’s teacher to make sure you understand what is expected of you and your child when it comes to their homework, including how much should be done per week and how much involvement you should have. You should try to attend as many school events as possible, such as parents’ evenings.
Sometimes parents struggle to help with homework because they have been taught a different method to what the child has been taught. Some schools may also offer workshops, especially around subjects like maths, where this can be the case. You should look out for them and attend them when you can or ask the teacher for a quick summary if you know your child has been taught something a different way to what you know.
If your child is particularly struggling with a certain homework task you should speak to their teacher about it. They may be able to suggest some strategies to help them, or it may be that your child needs some more support at school for a particular subject.
Depending on the severity of the situation, you might just need to write a note to the teacher explaining that you had to provide extra help so your child could complete the task. If your child has been unable to do the task at all, it might be best to speak to the teacher directly.
Lead by Example
Children will be more encouraged to do their homework if you are also ‘studying’. So, instead of sitting down to watch TV whilst they do their homework, you could instead take part in a similar activity to them. If they’re reading, you could also read a book in the same room as them. If they’re doing maths homework, take the opportunity to sort out your own finance admin.
It will be motivating for a child to see you are also doing an activity like they are having to do. They will be more likely to follow your example and see that doing homework is just a part of life that must be done, no matter if you’re a child or an adult.
Don’t Force or Bribe
You should never force or bribe your child to do homework. You should try to avoid your child seeing homework as a punishment or chore – instead, they should see it as an opportunity to learn. If your child is resistant to doing homework, you can try to explain why it’s a benefit, such as how it can reinforce what they have learned at school so they can expand and enhance their understanding.
If your child still refuses to do homework, you should let them discover what the consequences of this will be. The child will have to explain to the teacher why they didn’t do their homework and they will likely find they’re behind in the lesson. They’ll also probably lose some or all of their break time to complete the homework at school.
Not doing homework once or twice in earlier years of school won’t affect their academic career too much, but it will teach them what the purpose of homework is and that there will be consequences for not doing their work. They will usually realise that it is better to do their homework at home, rather than lose their break time at school.
Leitz has a range of home office essentials to help your kids stay organised and motivated with their schoolwork.
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