Homework, as many of us know at Parental Choice, can be a battle at the best of times so we turned to educational expert Rachel Vecht, founder of Educating Matters (www.educatingmatters.co.uk), for her top tips on how to win the homework battle:
“Over the past twenty years, homework is certainly a topic I have thought a lot about!! I spent 8 years handing out homework in my role as a class teacher; the past 14 years delivering seminars in corporates to parents on all aspects of education (particularly how to establish homework routines) and most importantly putting it all into practice on a daily basis with my own 4 children at home.
Some parents feel that their children get too much homework and others too little but it is certainly an issue that every parent/carer of a school aged child grapples with. Very few children have the maturity and motivation to rush home after a whole day at school and say,”‘Oooh I can’t wait to sit down and do my homework!” Parents play a vital role in supporting a child’s education. They need to take charge of the homework process and consistently guide their children to establish useful habits which will impact on their experience of success at school.
More important than the actual content and subject knowledge, homework teaches children the vital lesson that in life that there are certain things you just have to do, even if you don’t feel like it. Homework helps to instil in children some very important skills and values such as motivation, co-operation, confidence, self-reliance, doing your best, patience etc. It teaches children how to become successful learners – a tool they will use long after they have left school.
I have listed below a few key points regarding homework:
The parent’s role
- Homework is for children not for parents!!
- Train your children in productive study habits so they learn vital life skills such as independence, organisation, time management, perseverance, focus, problem solving.
- Model a passion for learning and show an interest in what they are doing.
- Understand the school homework policy, monitor homework and check it is completed and handed in.
- Work as a team with the school
Establish very clear rules/guidelines with your child
Routines and habits reduce resistance:
- Have a clear homework timetable stating exactly when, where, and how long homework should take 6x a week. Homework needs to be predictable.
- Set time limit for each task (use kitchen timer)
- Build in active breaks if necessary and divide longer projects into manageable chunks.
- Eliminate distractions, particularly younger siblings and any form of screen if not required for the homework. Helps to have a fixed place for homework.
- Homework happens before anything fun.
- Hardest subject first so they don’t feel demoralised and frustrated.
- Descriptively praise and encourage every step in the right direction. For example, “You got all your homework out without having to be reminded. That shows real maturity.” Focus on the positive.
- Reflectively listen to how they are feeling so they feel heard and understood. For example: “I understand that you would much rather play on your IPad than do your homework.”
- Rewards for completing homework such as ‘special time’ with their parent, screen time, an extra story for a young child.
- Natural consequences if homework is not completed in the allotted time. Such as, no screen time, they have to miss a break and complete it in school.
- Remain calm and try not to blame, criticise, lecture, nag, repeat and remind.
Three step approach to completing homework independently
- Chat through the homework with the child. Ask leading questions to guide them and ensure they understand what they need to do and how to do it. Questioning the child rather than telling them what needs to be done
- Child has a go at doing the homework alone. Ignore any delaying tactics and do not engage with them during this time.
- Review the homework. Parent and child find three good things about it to descriptively praise and then each mention 2 things that could be improved. Don’t correct all the homework. Teachers need to get a real sense of what a child is able to do independently. If your child hasn’t understood something, let the teacher know
‘Educating Matters’ deliver seminars to thousands of parents/carers in the workplace on many education related topics such as supporting children with reading, writing, numeracy, homework, exams and choosing schools along with more generic parenting skills such as sibling rivalry, boosting self –esteem and emotional intelligence. Rachel also delivers a 10 week ‘Positive Parenting and Family Skills’ course to groups of parents in homes around North London and offers one to one telephone support to parents across the UK.
‘Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher’