Helping your primary school child with homework
Teachers talk about how parents can help kids take responsibility for their homework and avoid Thursday night meltdowns.
At a glance
- Homework is usually revision of concepts already covered in class.
- Get into a routine of doing homework at a set time.
- Ask your child to tell you about their homework.
- Don't jump in and give them the answers. Homework is also about teaching kids to be independent learners.
- If your child is struggling with homework, talk to their teacher.
How do you get your kids to keep on top of their homework?
Generally what I tell parents about helping their kids with homework is it should never be a conflict, it should never cause any drama.
Homework is supposed to be basically revision, the concepts have already been taught at school.
So the majority of the time the students should be comfortable with the work that they're given.
I think the first thing with students with homework, especially at an early age, is start to set them up into a structure of when to do their homework and how best to do it.
And, ideally, you should do a little every night, but kids have huge after-school things now every night, they have football and music lessons etc, so they need to work around it. And that's part of a life skill too, isn't it, organising your life.
I suggest to the parents of my students, that at an early age they find a time that suits the children.
So they come home and they've had a bit of time out, a bit of afternoon tea and then straight into their homework. If they have the same time every afternoon then they're aware of what's going to happen.
It's a good idea also to set a timer because they know that after 10 or 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the age of the child, that when that timers goes, if they've worked hard through that period, they can go.
Have a clear, defined space so the kids know that it's homework time and it's time to concentrate.
They'll need a space where that can happen, they'll need a quiet space where they can work independently. They'll also need their equipment.
Everyone's busy, but if there was 10 or 15 minutes of each afternoon to sit down and that's your time to see what's going on in your child's learning, I think that's a great opportunity to take and the more positive you can be about it, the better.
You definitely, as a parent, don't have to be a subject expert to help your child. Being interested in what they're learning about, asking what they're learning about will really help and consolidate the learning that they're doing in class.
We really want kids to want to do homework, to want to read every night, to complete the tasks rather than punishing them for not doing homework.
I always tell parents homework is about developing independence. If you're going to be sitting there beside them every night in Kindergarten and tell them exactly what to do and how to do it, you're still going to be doing that in Year 6.
When we set projects we really want to see what the students are able to do. There's no point for us receiving any work that has been done by anyone other than the student.
Because the teacher might be thinking, "Homework's all great. I'm getting all this homework back at the end of the week. Little Betty's doing wonderfully". Tick, tick, tick. But in fact Mum might have been helping Betty a lot and so the teacher's not getting a good idea of what Betty's capable of doing at home.
And if the child's not able to understand the task then we need to be able to address it in class.
If it gets to Thursday night and your child is having a meltdown around homework you need to determine straight away if it's a time management issue, or a mathematical content issue.
It's never worth tears and it's never worth building up a barrier against it. Best to write a note and say, "We tried. We couldn't do it. Can you spend a bit of time with this child to help them get over the hurdle?"
I always think that if it's going to be too much trouble for the family and too stressful you need to come and speak to the classroom teacher and see what you can do about it. Each different teacher will have a different answer and a different way to approach it.
Also, have a look at the many fact sheets, glossaries and step by step Homework Helper videos for parents at www.schoolatoz.com.au
This site uses Google Translate, a free language translation service, as an aid. Please note translation accuracy will vary across languages.