Most of us, parents and children, aren’t fans of homework. There’s been research saying it’s not beneficial and obviously it takes up after school time where children have activities or need to have family time and relax. I have to admit that while it’s a pain and I don’t like to see N getting a lot, I find it really helpful to see how he’s getting on, what he understands and has taken from class, and provides opportunities for us to discuss school and what he might be finding difficult. All valuable. Plus it’s noticeable when he’s not been reading regularly.
Persuading N to do his homework is another matter. He’s quite diligent, and would hate to be kept in at breaktime to finish work he’d not completed. But he gets easily distracted. By his dad, by the farm, outdoors, food. Anything that grabs him before he’s got focused.
Homework time is also limited in our house. Because I work and he’s at wrapround care, we don’t usually sit down to homework until nearly 6pm. It’s late in the day, he’s tired and often still hungry.
We’re not perfect and homework is ticked off rather than worked on to make it as perfect as possible. For us, family time and time away from school is just as important as the work he does in school. But there are some habits we I try and keep to to make homework completion as efficient as possible. We do have regular homework habits that I try and get him to stick to.
Homework help – tips on getting kids to do homework
1, Make it part of the day and keep to a routine
For us that means doing it as soon as we’re back from school. N might have a small snack and a drink, but otherwise, sitting down and getting it out of the way works best. He’s usually had a break at nursery playing with friends (sometimes outside) inbetween school and home so he’s had a breather already.
Spellings are usually done in the morning after breakfast, because N is capable of doing those on his own, with the occasional check over from me.
Homework at the weekend is my most hated thing, so I try and encourage anything other than reading/spellings to be done before tea and tennis on a Friday. Then it’s done and out of the way.
2, Continue to explain why homework is important and what the benefits are
If N can see it’s helping him – reinforcing what he’s learnt at school, or for reading, a little every day helps him improve faster than sporadic reading – then he’s happier to sit down and do it.
3, Let him choose how he does it
I do try and encourage homework to be done at the kitchen table. It’s the easiest place to set everything out and for me to sit next to him if needed. But in the summer when it was lovely outside, N wanted to read outside. So we sat on the swings, or on a picnic rug which he really liked.
He’ll also set everything up the way he wants to, and gets out the ruler or pencil he wants. The little things make him happy. Anything to make homework more pleasant.
4, Show you’re interested in the subjects too
Yes, school reading books can be extremely tedious (N’s reading books are still a nightmare – yawn, even though they’re now short chapter books). But seeing you’re passionate about something will help your children enjoy things more too. I’m loving the maths he’s doing now he’s in key stage 2, as they’re learning vertical maths sums and carrying over. I’ve even challenged him to a maths race to see how many we can both do in a time limit. And I’m loving his ancient Greece topic – I’ve even got out my old Usborne ancient Rome, Greece and Eygpt books for him to compare.
5, Listen to what the child is saying
Are they putting off homework because they don’t understand it. Or they hate sitting down at that time. If you ask the right questions, sometimes you’ll have time to adjust things, or speak to the teacher to clear things up. Thankfully most times N doesn’t remember what they’ve been taught in maths early in the week, but after a couple of days of lessons, he’s practiced the method and remembered it, so is fine doing the homework the next day.
6, Get both parents on side about homework
When N was younger the OH would drag him off outside or distract him, but now he’s a bit older, he does get sent in to do homework he’s not finished. Halleluia! It means things are less of a fight, and I’m no longer just the person nagging.
7, All in one or chunk it up
Some children like to just focus on one subject each night, other children prefer smaller chunks of work, and switching between 2 subjects to keep them interested. Work out which they prefer and then try and chunk up homework acros the week so you can do a couple of shorter bits on a night.
We no longer have rewards for doing reading, but when N struggled and would hate doing his reading, I did set reading school books as a task on his reward chart. It did encourage him to get more into the habit of reading a bit every night then we could drop it from the rewards.
9, Set a challenge
Some schools set a number of questions to complete, others have a time limit they encourage (e.g 15 mins of reading daily). Work with what your child prefers. If they like small chunks of time, work with that. I have to admit that N is easily distracted and our kitchen clock doesn’t work, so when N asks how much time he’s spent reading, I do lie and tell him he’s only done 5 minutes and still has 10 to go. But a set time works for us, if it’s just to do as many tasks as possible within that time.
10, Have a treat or relax afterwards
Whether it’s a snack, or screentime, if it’s been a challenging piece of work, or you’ve been pleased how they’ve applied themselves, having something to look forward to will go down well.
How do your children tackle homework? How much do they get?
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