Are arguments about homework a regular part of your interaction with your children? That's undesirable for a number of reasons. Besides tending to eat into the available time and creating unpleasant associations with homework, it can also damage your relationship with your children. All students have homework, whether it's from school, from home-schooling or from a private tutor. Your child's progress with their education could depend on whether or not homework goes smoothly and is a positive experience. Here are some suggestions on approaching this.
Establish a Time and Place for Homework
Children are all individuals, and different individuals work best in different circumstances. For one thing, the time they're able to concentrate best will vary. Some children perform best by carrying the momentum straight from their schoolwork into their homework, and then having the rest of the evening free. Others need a bit of downtime before tackling their homework. Talk to your child and establish what time suits them best, and then encourage them to stick to that routine.
In the same way, some children need quiet and isolation to concentrate, while others are stimulated by things going on around them. If your child is the latter type, doing their homework in the family room will have the advantage that they can ask you questions more easily. However, if this would distract them, they're better in a quiet room — but make sure they know they can come and ask questions at any time.
Help Your Child Break Down and Prioritise Their Homework
Homework isn't necessarily given as simple tasks to do one at a time. Your child may have work for a number of subjects, with different deadlines, or the work may be more complex. For example, they may be undertaking a project, or perhaps their homework is revision in preparation for an exam. This means that tackling assignments in a random order isn't going to be a useful approach. For a start, if you help your child to draw up a homework timetable, they can know in advance when they can expect to be given a task for a particular subject, as well as when it's going to be due, so they can plan when they need to do it. In the case of a more complex task, sit down with your child and break the assignment down into individual pieces of work. These can be given priority levels, which will allow you to create an itinerary of how they're going to approach the project. The ultimate aim, of course, is that your child gets so used to going through this process with you that they'll eventually tell you they don't need your help. Even so, it's still as well to have a look at what they've decided and why, at least till you're confident in their ability to prioritise.
Remember to Give Praise When You're Checking Your Child's Homework
If you're going to check through the homework your child has done, you'll obviously have to point out where they could improve, but you also need to avoid this making the experience negative. This makes it vital that you also pick out things they've done well and praise them for it. Not all praise is equal, however. Many studies have shown that praising children for the effort they've made tends to encourage further effort, whereas praising them for something they're naturally good at can sometimes have the opposite effect. Though this doesn't mean you should ignore things they do well, the greater part of your praise should be for the effort they've put into improving on what they struggle with.
Consistency Is Vital
Like any routine, setting up a homework routine is unlikely to run smoothly at first. There will be days when your child doesn't stick to what you've arranged but, instead of treating it as a drama, it's best to reaffirm calmly but firmly what you've agreed and get your child back on track the next day. If you show that you expect them to keep to the routine and give them the support they need, the lapses will become progressively less frequent. Setting up a routine is a vital start, but you're likely to need more resources to continue supporting your children with their homework. Register with TutorExtra to find out more.