When starting a new school year, often one of the biggest changes – besides the new teacher and classroom – will most likely be the increase in homework. As your children make their way through their primary years and then through secondary classes, their assignments will only get more complex, and their schoolbag heavier.
Now you may be in the minority, that is, you have a child who loves to hit the books when they get home, studiously making sure their homework is complete before asking for Home and Away on the TV. But chances are, you’re not. We know that most kids prefer to ride their bikes, play computer games, jump on the trampoline or watch TV before their minds get even close to wandering down homework lane.
So what can you do to help? Here are a few tips we’ve picked up along the way, either through experience, by chatting with other Bacchus Marsh parents, or heard on the grapevine in Mothers’ groups or at school pick-ups.
- It’s a good idea to have a cleared, designated ‘homework space’. Somewhere free from distractions, with no TV or music playing.
- To keep them focused, it may help to set a specific time and time limit for homework each night – particularly in the early years. Most school will suggest time limits, such as 10 mins per night for very young students. It may also help to ask your child what time they would like to do their homework. Get this set at the beginning of the year – such as after a small after-school snack or play in the street with their friends. There’s nothing wrong with allowing a break after school, but try not to leave it too late.
- If your child is feeling a little overwhelmed by a big project, help them by breaking it up into smaller parts, and setting goals with them for completing each stage. Teaching these strategies early will help them in later years when they are juggling far bigger workloads in Year 12 and University or Tafe studies.
- Don’t do their homework for them. If your child is having difficulties, of course you can provide guidance, but doing their homework for them won’t actually teach them anything. If you believe their homework is far above their abilities, maybe have a chat to their teacher and see if there is some catch up work they could do to bridge the gap between where they are and where they need to be.
- Keep reading to your child once they start school. Lots of parents think that once their children can read for themselves they don’t need to continue. There’s nothing wrong with reading more sophisticated stories to your children, which are beyond their own reading abilities, to maintain their interest in books.
If you have your own homework rules, or strategies that have helped your children, we’d love you to share them in the comments below.