Structure homework so it is done at the same time and in the same spot, ideally a well-lit, public part of the home, such as the kitchen table. Keep the space free of all devices and distractions. Some families have rule of no screen time until homework is completed – unpopular but effective!
While it’s important to be present to help if needed, don’t hover over your child’s shoulder unless they’ve asked you to assist. Also, it’s not a great idea to ask every 15 seconds if your child needs help, which can be misconstrued as: “you don’t think I can do this.” Go through the work together when it’s finished.
Ensure sure kids do their own work; they won’t learn if they don’t think for themselves. School projects are an area where mums and dads can resist taking over. One such parent, Lesa, tells: “Fin’s projects brought out this crazily competitive, control freak side of me.” She knew it was time to step back after disputing her Fin’s mark of 27/30 with his teacher!
None of us wants to hear our voices nagging or raised, right? Anna, tired after work each day, often lost patience when son Billy, 8, “took too long” to work out comprehension answers, making the process demoralising for him and guilt-loaded for her. “Now when I feel the frustration rising I take a break before it escalates into an argument, and return only when I’m calm so it doesn’t end in tears – for both of us,” she says.
Zac, 10, had daily sport and music commitments after school so getting to his homework late at night. See his fatigue, Zac’s mum Fiona spoke with his teacher who modified the amount of homework set. Flexibility and consideration of individual circumstances, such as cultural and extra-curricular commitments, are within schools’ Homework Policy guidelines.
Do you recall a time when your child did their homework without any issues? What made it work then? Ask them about it; you could unlock the homework key! One parent found their son worked better feeling fresh after a shower; another discovered that their daughter enjoyed a homework-and-afternoon-tea ritual.
Sounds like a long shot? It is possible! Integrate a child’s interests into the homework, even if it’s as simple as using a special superhero pencil. Juggle Street’s Jess was a regular after-school babysitter for Billy, 9, who hated homework as much as he loved Star Wars. She’d bring along a Darth Vader mask, and her best mock-scary voice, for homework time that always made Billy laugh and get the job done; fun and learning are great companions. Stay-at-home dad, Johnny, transformed his twins’ aversion to their Year 1 home readers by renaming homework ‘Princess Time.’ Zoe and Steph dress up in their Cinderella and Elsa costumes and read their books aloud, applauding each other’s efforts.
Speaking of applause, there is little that boosts a child’s confidence more than praise from a person whose recognition they value. Make a point of saying something positive about your child’s homework efforts every time to help build enthusiasm.
If praise isn’t cutting it, wheel in the ‘big guns’: incentives, large or small. Ronan, 8, knows mum, Jo, will let him have a Smartie as he completes each of four columns in the maths workbook. A sugar-free incentive is a sticker chart that’s part of a pocket money system, each sticker has a set value in the family ‘currency.’ Kids earn a point for completing household tasks, as well as homework. They can cash in their sticker points, or save them up to buy something they want.
When you’re gritting your teeth in frustration, remind yourself why your kids are doing homework in primary school.