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Motivate Your Child To Do Homework

Why it's worth bothering with homework

Homework is a vital part of your child's education and contributes significantly to their learning. Homework helps by -

  • Enabling teachers and parents check the child's understands what was learnt in class,
  • Helping them remember what they learnt,
  • Providing essential practice - children who do their homework benefit from the equivalent of roughly an extra year's schooling,
  • Providing a chance for your child to get help on a one to one basis (the time for this in school is very limited),
  • Creating a valuable opportunity for you to discuss classroom topics at home, and,
  • Develop independent thinking (the time for this in school is limited)

What parents think about homework

When we asked parents about homework for their young children, we got some mixed views. Some parents saw homework as key to their children's learning whilst some parents thought homework caused unnecessary distress at home.

With more questions we found that for some parents homework meant dealing with tiresome delaying tactics, tantrums and unpleasant battles.

However, during your child's education, homework will increase in both amount and importance, so it's well worth investing your time now to establish a happy routine.

It's a mistake to think the only answer is to give in and stop trying, what's needed is a change of approach. If this is your problem then please read our article on "Practical Discipline Strategies That Work" and try out the ideas given there and this article.

Some parents thought that the amount of homework was excessive for their child.

Remember, teachers are experienced in setting the right levels of homework, sometimes having set the same homework in previous years. If your child has problems, try out the ideas in this article and then try talking to the teacher about it.

Some parents thought there was no need for learning at home - 'school is where children learn, not home' they said.

If this is your view, please read our article, "Facts Every Parent Should Know".

Some parents said homework caused them stress because sometimes they were unable to help their children.

In this case, try to get help from your partner, friend, another parent or ask the teacher for help. As new teaching methods have been introduced over the years this causes many parents to be puzzled by their childrens' homework, it's very common and nothing to feel embarrased about.

All parents have problems getting their children to do homework at sometime, especially at when it's first introduced. It's much easier in the long run to get into a good habit early on so your child just sees it as a normal activity.

If this is your problem then please read our article on "Practical Discipline Strategies That Work" and try out the ideas given.

Beware this common mistake primary school parents make... They suddenly find their child has to sit entrance exams to get into a prefered seconary school and do everything they can to boost their children's learning in the small period of time they have left. A much better approach is that your child makes the most of learning opportunities in every year of primary school, and that includes homework.

It's worth making an effort to encourage and help your child to do their homework because you'll help them make the most of their education. Education is the best way you can secure a bright future for your child. Use the ideas in this article to help solve the problems you have.

How to encourage your child to do their homework

As usual, we collected ideas by speaking to parents and teachers, so you can try them out.

Establish A Good Homework Routine Early On

It's so much easier to avoid bad habits than undoing them! It's also easier to get good habits with young children than older children, provided parents are aware of strategies that will help them.

Find out from your child's teacher when homework is set and due in. On the day the homework is set, check your child knows what their homework is and keep it ready in a safe place.

Choose a regular time for your child to do homework when are not tired, and you are available to provide help. Keeping a regular time for homework will make it easier to get started.

When doing homework, keep distractions down to a minimum, you may need to turn off the TV and music, or get others to use headphones.

Make Learning And Homework A Family Priority

Making learning And homework a family priority will ensure that homework gets done properly, not as an afterthought when energy and enthusiasm is low.

It will also help protect the time you set aside for doing homework.

Explain Why They Need To Do Their Homework

Ask a class of primary school children and chances are they won't know why the are at school. The are at school to learn, but why do they need to learn? If we want our children to think homework is important we need to tell them why.

This message works well for young children...

Explain that grown ups need money to buy things. When they are grown up, they need a good job and earn enough money to buy the things they want they need to. Homework helps them do better at school and so get a better job. Doing well at school will also help them have more choice of jobs. Link this to what they might what to do when they grow up.

Note that this message will not get through to your child if you spoil them - they won't see the point of working hard if they get everything they want anyway!

Keep A Well Stocked Homework Pencil Case In a Safe Place

Often a lot of time can be wasted finding the things needed to get homework started.

Keep a homework pencil case handy with a few good quality pencils, a good quality pencil sharpener your child can use, a good quality rubber and a some colour pencils. Make your child responsible for putting it in a place where they can easily find it.

Also have some lined and rough paper ready.

Note that your child's teacher may have a policy of no rubbing out but instead to put a single line through the mistake. If so, follow this rule for homework.

'Your Thing / My Thing'

This is a very effective strategy that can be used to motivate children to include learning or homework in their routine.

This method works well with boys, who can find it harder to concentrate than girls.

It works like this -

Take turns doing activities with your child in blocks of about 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how long your child can concentrate for.

Each of you decide what activity you want to do when it's your turn. For your turns you choose to do learning activities or helping them with their homework.

Initially, you can start off both choosing play like activities but during your turns you can slowly increase the amount of learning depending on your child's mood and concentration.

This strategy works well because, it's flexible, it breaks learning up to suit young childrens' concentration and your child makes decisions which they find exciting. During your turn, if your child is reluctant to participate you can explain that soon it will be their turn to decide but they should join in until then.

This strategy also gives you an opportunity to show by example positive behaviour such as patience, unselfishness, fairness, and concentration.

Use a kitchen timer to let you know when it's time to change turns. Show them how to operate it, this will also help them to understand time better!

You Don't Have To Sit At A Desk To Do Homework

Your child sits at a desk at school, when you help your child at home you don't have to make homework like school. You can discuss your child's homework anywhere, on the sofa for example.

However, when they need to write it should be at a desk.

Talk Through The Homework First

Check your child fully understands what the homework is asking them to do before they put pen to paper.

After they have read the questions through, ask them to tell you what they think the question is asking and what their answer might be.

Children learn a lot when they explain it to someone else, so asking your child about their homework really helps them with their understanding and organising their thoughts.

It will also avoid any basic mistakes, rework and will save time.

Get Your Child to Read the Homework Instructions

Get them to read the homework question out loud, helping them where necessary.

As well as providing reading practice for them, it's actually an important skill to understand exactly what the questions is asking.

Encourage Your Child To Do Things For Themselves

Beware of doing things for your child that they are capable of doing so themselves.

To encourage learning self sufficency, it's important encourage them to do what they can for themselves.

It May Be A Good Idea To Answer Questions In Rough First

Young children find it difficult to think about several things at the same time. However, doing homework usually involves thinking about two things at the same time.

Children need to think about figuring out their homework answers as well as laying out their answers neat enough that someone else can read them.

It can really help children to separate these two tasks out and to just focus on their answers in rough and then (perhaps after a break) getting them to rewrite their answers in neat.

Get Your Child Into The Habit Of Checking Their Homework

Once they've completed their homework, let them have a break, and then get them to check their homework for any mistakes.

After they have done their checking, go through it with them checking it yourself. If you find a mistake ask your child to check it again helping them with clues where the mistake is.

Giving them practice checking their own work is key to helping them become self sufficient learners.

Avoid Having To Repeat Yourself

Parents often complain about having to repeat themselves and helping their children with their homework is an area where parents can often find themselves repeating themselves.

Our answer is for your child to keep a 'Lesson To Learn' book.

When you find there is something you want your child to remember ask your child to put it in their 'Lesson To Learn' book.

When Homework Is Complete, Praise Your Child On Their Effort

Be specific with your praise. If they were difficult, be firm with your child and say homework is important.

Avoid these homework pitfalls

Don't Leave Homework Until The Last Minute

Doing homework in a rush won't be enjoyable for you or your child.

Block out plenty of time to do it - this means you can talk about it and your child will get more out of it.

Don't Do Your Child's Homework for Them

Homework is a way for your child to learn about responsibility.

If your child has not understood the homework topic and you cannot help them either, try and use the many resources available for help. These resources include the internet (education website or youtube) and books in libraries or bookshops.

Homework Worksheets Often Don't Leave Enough Room For Answers

Often the space given to write answers is too small and makes for untidy work.

Get you child to answer the questions on a new lined sheet of paper and staple this to the homework sheet.

Beware Computer Instant Messaging and Phone Texting

It's not advisable to put a computer in a young child's room for child safety reasons.

Also, children can get hooked on responding to their friends messages which can interrupt their concentration.

Homework help: Links & articles

www.channel4learning.com - Channel 4 homework website to help parents.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools - BBC homework website to help parents.
"Children's Homework Can Become a Battleground" - BBC article.
"Sharing Homework Benefits Parents" - BBC article.

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