Homework is a debated issue in education these days and so every school is very different. At some stage though in your child’s schooling there will be an expectation that students complete revision and assessment items at home.
Getting your kids to do their homework can be the source of many confrontations so its generally best to set expectations as early as possible and educate them about the reality of learning. Not everything can or should be done at school and a little extra effort at home can make a huge difference to their performance.
The Early Years
Homework in the first years of school is usually about getting them to participate in reading and to rehearse some sight words. It also can include completing certain tasks like helping parents with some chores or asking a relative some questions. On the whole its fairly low stress for everyone.
As they move through primary school you could expect that many schools will have regular tasks such as spelling, learning facts and revising some maths etc. They may throw in the odd project too and this is usually manageable again if you make a small consistent effort.
As students begin to move toward the transition to high school, it is not uncommon to begin to feel some real tension developing as the stakes get higher and they are expected to begin to take more initiative. In our home this has certainly been a little explosive on occasions so don;t feel like you are alone if you see the same.
Years 6-9 are tricky for many kids with so much changing and responsibility starting to mount. Parents tend to become less involved and certainly should be constantly putting the ball back into the student’s court to make things happen.
By senior, students have mostly accepted that there is a direct correlation between their own effort in class and in their own time, and the results that they are receiving. The role of parent is still to walk alongside to encourage and be a sounding board where possible. In many cases, parents become less able to directly help as the work becomes high level and specific so making cups of tea, enforcing breaks and routine and offering emotional support can be key roles to adopt.
Some advice from others:
We asked our schoolmum community for some pointers to give other parents an some of the things that they offered up were:
- Homework is revision of things already taught, so it should be things they have learnt in class already.
- Set them up into a daily routine, doing a little bit every night works best.
- Find a time that suits your children, and develop a routine around that. For some it is best when they get straight home from school. Other children need a break first then do it later in the afternoon, or early evening.
- Set a timer, so they know how long they have to be doing homework and that after that they are free to play.
- Have clear defined quiet space in your house for them to work independently.
- Sit down with them and be interested in what they are learning. Homework is the best way to keep up with what you child is doing in the classroom.
- Homework is about developing independence. If you want to help them with their homework, help them learn how to think, but don’t give them the answers. (I help my daughter with spelling by getting her to sound the letters out to me, not just copying the words down).
- If they are melting down about homework, find out if it is a time management issue or a homework content issue. Time management is something you and your chid need to work out. Content is something you need to let the teacher know about.
- Praise their hard work, not how clever they are. Create a culture of working hard to solve a problem.
Homework is essential for almost all students and will be a lot easier if you set a simple routine and expectation early on in their schooling. While you have to find a routine that works for your family, find a quiet place and a regular time that you facilitate the homework to happen. Try to keep it positive and remember that your goal is to facilitate them to a point where they can handle it independently.