Homework has become a controversial topic, and debate rages as to if schools should actually give homework at all, and how much homework is appropriate for what age. Most experts though, still agree that homework has a number of advantages:
- Improves scholastic achievement through practice and participation
- Teaches responsibility and time management
- An opportunity for parents to be more involved and spend positive time with their child
- Revision of work completed, reinforcing skills and concepts that have been taught
- Teaches the child to work independently
- Helps the child use resources such as library and computer
- Encourages problem-solving, thinking and memory.
A parent’s attention and involvement is something that most children crave, and can be the most rewarding thing for any child. So being involved with homework is vital. Make a point every day of going through what your child has completed and praising and complimenting them as much as possible. If you work full days, just taking a few minutes out in the evening to go over what your child has done at after-care makes a big difference. Even pulling out the books on the weekend and reviewing what they have done during the week and turning it into a bit of quality family time can make a huge difference.
Make sure that there is a suitable homework area permanently available. It should be a space where there are no distractions, and definitely no TV! Try to keep to a specific homework time as routine is vital. Make sure it’s a neat, comfortable space where the child can relax and focus without the attention being pulled into the kitchen or living room.
Using incentives is a great way to get your children to do their homework without a fight. For smaller kids, you might use snacks, stickers, iPad time or toys as the motivator. For older children, privileges like TV and Computer time or even a special outing is often the currency that will work. You can consider keeping a homework chart, with rewards for consistent performance without a fight. Remember the ultimate goal is to develop good habits for the future!
Being as involved as possible is often the key. You can play role-playing games, where the child gets to become the teacher and teach you what they learned that day. You can mix up the routine a bit and have your child dictate the answers for you while you write them down and turn it into a bit of fun.
If there are specific items that your child is struggling with, don’t be afraid to involve technology. There are some great apps that really bring different subjects to life – especially maths. For life sciences subjects, delving into Google and Wikipedia can really enrich the subject. If the child is directly involved in searching for articles and videos on the topic, it will encourage natural curiosity and the ability to independently research a topic, as well as keeping it fun and stimulating.
Some parents find that getting a homework buddy really helps improve the attitude toward homework. Turning homework into a play date is a great way to make it more fun. Make sure you lay down a few rules ahead of time. They can be rewarded with play time and a nice snack once they have completed what they set out to do.
But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that there are more important things in life than homework and grades. Too much emphasis on getting good marks can destroy your child’s love of learning and natural curiosity. Think about the values that you want your child to have and make sure that homework is not getting in the way. If you believe your child’s teacher is giving out too much homework after you see your child demonstrate an understanding of the subject, don’t be afraid to voice your concern. Even if nothing changes, it will show your children that you care and empathize with them. That can go a long way!