A Parents Guide to Managing Homework

Homework, setting boundaries

For some parents, the just looking at their child’s homework fills them with a sense of fear. Times have changed, the curriculum taught now is very different to the way you were taught perhaps, when you were a child. Some parents struggle to provide assistance to their children due to their own limitations and others, see it as a personal challenge that must be fulfilled with military style precision.

It is natural to want to help your child to reflect their true ability, but if their standard of homework is far superior to the standard of work your child is producing at school, this can sometimes have a negative impact on your child, making them feel less capable and often, unable to fulfil your own drive for perfection.

Here are some points to consider when it comes to helping your child with a homework task:

• You can encourage good habits, being neat and tidy, taking their time to write clearly and accurately will certainly help but don’t over criticise your child and set standards that are not appropriate for your child’s age or ability.

• You can help to promote the following:

• Having a routine for homework each day

• Planning for homework due at a later date

• Organisational ability

• Working out priorities

• Time management

• Problem solving skills

• Building in time for meals, exercise and a good night’s rest

• Set up a reward chart or system for your child. Once homework has been done, a treat such as some TV, a nice snack or a game with you can provide some good incentive.

• Equally, the opposite can work too – no reward for homework not done

• Do not take on the responsibility for your child’s homework, it is theirs not yours. They will need to live the consequences of not completing their homework on time or receiving the praise and reward in school for completing it as requested.

You can help to encourage homework as a positive experience. Keep positive in the way you discuss homework and the chances are that if you don’t make it sound like a chore that needs to be argued over, it won’t be viewed as such by your child. If you can see your child is struggling, suggest that he or she takes a break for five minutes and then together you can return to look at the problem together. Avoid being critical or using negative language or behaviour as this will start to create a negative association with homework.

How much time does school expect your child to spend on homework? Discuss this with your child and work out a timetable that suits your family life but also allows enough time for your child to meet the commitment. If you feel that your child is struggling to complete the homework in the recommended time, speak to your child’s teacher about how this can be addressed or what other solutions there may be to overcome the issue.

If your child is really struggling, you may need to be much more proactive in your approach. You may wish to find ways of tackling the bigger challenges by breaking the tasks down into smaller tasks. Consider more creative ways that you could help your child to understand a concept or problem area. You know your child better than anyone else. Your time and effort will have a positive impact on your child’s self-esteem in the long run if they feel supported rather than alienated because of their difficulties in understanding a task.

Once you are confident that your child is handling the homework they are given, you can step back and hand them more responsibility. You can discuss the idea that when they do not complete their homework or manage their time after school effectively, this can mean that they will not have completed the task set for them by the school. The consequences are not yours to deal with and your child will have to face these on their own at school. Explaining this in a firm but fair way, will help to let your child know what is expected of them and that only they have control over whether they complete the task and receive praise or suffer the consequences of not completing their homework. In most cases, by giving your child the additional responsibility, stating that you feel they are at an age where they are capable of managing their own time and this can often bolster their self-esteem.

If your child shows particular interest in certain areas, look at ways that you can promote this further and tie it in with homework or learning opportunities. The same goes for the areas where they are less interested. You may decide to make the homework session an outing, a trip to a museum or area of interest that ties in with what your child is learning in history for example. At the end of the day, you can help your child as much as you like, but when it comes to the test, they’re on their own and that is of no help to anyone if they’ve not done the work themselves.

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