Love it or loathe it, homework helps children develop skills around independent learning and provides a useful insight into your child’s day-to-day progress. What’s more, homework is a fact of life at secondary school and a gentle introduction to it in the primary and junior years can help children get into more of a routine.
So, how to tackle the homework blues? Here are five golden tips from Helen Lami, director of summer course at tuition specialists Academic Summer
1. Involve your child in creating a schedule
At the start of each term, get clear what homework is expected and when it’s due and make a note of your child’s reading day. Print out log-ins and passwords for mymaths and bugclub and have them easily to hand. Allow your child a say in deciding the best time for doing homework: most primary school kids need time to relax and let of steam straight after school, while leaving it too late in the day leads to refusals and rows. Ask your child to design a colourful timetable with some built in flex for playdates and parties. Kids this age often need an adult close by, so time homework to coincide with a task you can put to one side to help your child.
2. Have a dedicated homework zone
Clear an area on the table, or a space on the sofa where your child regularly goes to do homework. Younger kids might enjoy painting a poster marking the ‘homework zone’ or choosing special ‘homework’ pencils and paper that stays in that space. Make sure it’s well-lit and turn off TVs and phones to create a calm, focused vibe.
3. Use countdowns and timers to avoid battles
Homework – even at primary school – can take much longer than it’s meant to. Sessions for this age group should last around 10-15 minutes – use the timer on your phone to make sure you don’t go over. If your child is struggling, start with shorter times, extending it gradually. Give your child a countdown to the time when homework needs to start. Ask them to help set the timer and finish when the timer goes off, unless your child is very engrossed.
4. Encourage, praise and reward
It’s unusual for kids to love homework so lavish lots of encouragement every time they sit down to do it. Praise any occasion when your child starts homework on their own or perseveres with tasks they find hard. Ask siblings and your partner to cheer your child on by sharing how well they are doing and make sure you tell their teacher too. On homework days, save ‘fun’ activities such as screen time or downloading a favourite pop tune or YouTube video, until it’s done. Ask your child to help design a homework reward chart and decide which rewards they’d like for doing all the homework that week/month. Do deliver the rewards promised.
5. Don’t make homework the be all and end all
If homework is still causing big issues, talk to your child and their teacher about specific areas they are finding tricky. In a lot of schools, homework for children aged 5-8 is still largely optional and conflict over homework can be counter-productive. It could just be that developmentally, your child is not quite ready to do extra work outside school. If that’s the case it’s better to leave homework for the time being and try again in a few weeks.
Compiled by Helen Lami Director at Academic Summer
Summer tuition specialist Academic Summer offers academic summer camps to UK and overseas students aged 5-18 at locations in Sidcot (Somerset), Westminster and Cambridge. It aims to reinvent old-fashioned crammers by offering tailored programmes that balance high quality classroom teaching with daily cultural/leisure and sporting activities which include swimming and horse riding (Sidcot School) and trips to Shakespeare’s Globe and to Lord’s Cricket Ground (DLD College Westminster).