Helping your child with homework

Doing homework with our children can be like an extra chore for us, you have to know they have it, remember to tell them to do it and know the methods and the answers!  I am afraid to say that I can’t help you with all of these things, but have compiled a list of some of the techniques I have shared with parents over the years.

Make it little and often – like you will have heard me talk about before, you want it to become a ritual, a habit, a routine.  And the way to make rituals?  Little things that can be repeated time and time again.  Big chunks of time are hard to come by, so it’s rare for them to become a routine, so as with all of my advice be realistic about what is achievable in your household.

Timetable it in – when you have worked out the little chunks you want to do, the next technique that I have used is to timetable it in.  If it’s on the family calendar then it’s a commitment, from you and your child.  Respect their time by sticking to it, I promise, teachers would much rather see a 90% finished piece of homework than a 10% one scribbled on the morning it’s due in.

When is your child’s brain most active? – I’m a morning person, those who know me will tell you that I spring out of bed at the crack of dawn and have my most productive work period prior to 9am (normally 2 or 3 hours by then).  So if anyone wants a job doing I do it in a morning for them, the quality is much higher and I concentrate on it far more.  So how about your child, when is their brain activity time?  And don’t say never (even if it’s a teenager who needs more sleep (did you know there’s a scientific reason for this related to effectively rewiring the brain during this period)) because we all have our peak moments.  Plan your homework sessions around these times, it’ll be a lot easier.

Be prepared to sit alongside them even if you aren’t helping them – presence here is key.  “You’re doing the time with them” is one way of looking at this, another would be you are modelling how to work and concentrate on something, you are teaching them a life skill.  You could be doing the homework with your child, you could be folding the laundry, you could be doing your work, the trick you are using is your physical presence will reassure your child, just as it has done since they were babies.  I promise your child will find it easier than being told to go and do it and sitting in their room muttering and feeling angry at you.  If this is your child, then say “come on, let’s go and sit down together” even if you are not doing the work with them.

It’s okay to not know the answers or even the method – finally the methods used in modern schools are hugely different to what was used when we were children.  So it’s okay to not know the answers or even the methods!  You or your child is best asking their teacher if you really are stuck.  The internet is a great resource, but ultimately will not help your child in any tests or exams, so it is best to help them to understand the underlying bits wherever you can.

Please use the comments box below to share your homework horror stories, let’s hear your funniest or worst experience of helping your child out.

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