Homework Tips for Parents

January 1, 2017

Homing in on Homework: Top Tips for Parents

helping teenagers with GCSE Revision homework

Parents and children alike dread homework. It is often hard to approach your child about homework without getting a negative reaction because after a long day at school, homework is not exactly the most enticing thing, and yet it has to be done.

Here are 10 tips to help you and your child get through homework with less stress.

1. Develop awareness 

Being aware of what homework your child receives each week, and what to expect, will soften the blow. If you take an active interest in what they are studying in each subject, this will make it easier when it comes to broaching homework as a topic.

Casual conversation with your child about their schoolwork will also build up a level of interest and trust between you. If your child feels they will be chastised every time schoolwork is mentioned they are unlikely to be forthcoming with information. 

When you ask to look over their work, do so with enough time before bed for it to be amended. By doing this, you are helping your child to proof-read their work while finding out how they are progressing.

2. Give incentives

Encouraging your child by offering them rewards could be considered bribery but it is effective. This could be anything from allowing them a weekend activity with friends to you cooking their favourite meal for them.

However you approach incentivising homework, it’s important to maintain a consistent level and not to bend the rules too much. Before your child begins, let them know their reward for completing their homework on time to the standard you expect.

3. Encourage organisation

It’s no secret many of us struggle with beginning any kind of written work or study. As a parent, it may be beneficial to encourage and help with the first steps of the process. Talk to your child about what needs to be done and offer alternative approaches.

4. Consider the atmosphere

Enable your child with an appropriate atmosphere for study. A station at a table or desk is generally the most productive but the atmosphere surrounding them is just as important. If they prefer to be around you, e.g. to talk to and bounce ideas off you, make yourself available but ensure they have a quiet space with few if any distractions.

At first you may need to take their phones and mobile devices (possibly by force!) but your child will soon reap the benefits. Their work will go quicker and you can reward them by returning their device(s) once they finish. If you have other children, encourage them to be quiet or make themselves scarce until ‘the student’ is finished.

5. Ready resources

Ensure your child has the equipment and resources necessary for their homework. When discussing the homework they have, ask what form it must be completed in. If it is a scientific or mathematical project, for example, protractors and calculators may be necessary.

Other tasks may require particular books; make sure your child has these – before they leave school if possible. If they require the internet for research, try to make sure that they are not distracted online for long. If they have everything they need to start, they are unlikely to leave their position and waste time looking for it.

6. Manage time

Be realistic with your child and encourage them to be realistic with themselves. After school, time usually flies pretty quickly. Consider how they usually spend their time after school and compromise with things that can be moved around to ensure they have plenty of time for homework.

7. Schedule

Discuss the ideal time to do homework each day. Clubs and activities may take up a few nights a week; dinner and chores will also eat into the time between home time and sleep, so be honest about when homework will fit in best.

If your child’s evenings after school are particularly busy, draw up a timetable together. Bear in mind that homework fluctuates from week-to-week; over-estimate the time it will take to reduce stress.

Encourage your child to stick to their homework schedule as best they can. With time and practice it will become second nature to follow, make their workload seem more manageable, and prepare them for the study demands of an examination year.

8. Strive for balance

Many parents fear their child being overloaded. Sports commitments, homework, school, and social responsibilities can mount up on a child and the burden can go unnoticed.

If you feel your child is struggling with the amount of homework they receive, it may be time for them to give up a particular extra-curricular activity or responsibility at home until they are back on track. Help them to alleviate stress by talking to them about their priorities.

If your child continues to struggle after their other responsibilities have been lifted, you may need to contact their school. Find out what they are struggling with and why. They may just require a little more support in these areas.

9. Be positive

Homework is a topic of conversation that can cause tension in any household. As a parent, maintaining a positive, jovial attitude, even towards pretty tetchy behaviour, will encourage your child to take a more adult approach towards their responsibilities.

When responding to any negativity, be honest, open, and try to avoid empty threats. Reward as often as you can to encourage your child’s positive behaviour and task completion.

10. Measure your involvement

Maintaining a positive level of involvement is something parents struggle with. Your main role is to keep track of the homework your child gets and the grades they receive. Doing this will keep you involved as a parent and in a position to intervene if necessary.

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