Regardless of whether you agree or disagree that homework is important to the academic success of the child, the fact remains that the majority of teachers set homework for their students and expect it to be completed. There are as many forms of homework as there are teachers and schools, with no two being exactly alike. No matter the type of homework set, there are effective ways to ensure that children get the most from their homework experience whilst at the same time allowing parents to retain their sanity.
A habit is a routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. So how can we help our children to develop good homework habits? All children are unique and have different study habits but some general guidelines can be applied to students of all ages.
Designate a regular, consistent time and place. Avoid conflict by allowing your child to have a say in the decision making of when and where regular homework will take place. Possible places could include the kitchen table or a desk in the child’s room. Negotiate when homework will be done; e.g. after dinner, before television, not on soccer practice days etc.
Keep the space organised by having a homework kit. This could include pens and pencils, stationery, rulers, erasers, scissors, glue, notepaper, sticky tape etc. Having the materials needed on hand to complete tasks and projects, makes for efficient time management. Encourage your child to let you know when they need new supplies.
Minimise distractions. Turn off the television, computer screens (unless needed for research) and phones so your child can concentrate on the job at hand. Homework is set for, and should be done by, the child. Be available to assist them if necessary but encourage independent thinking and problem solving skills.
Manage time effectively. The age and developmental level of your child will dictate the amount of time needed to effectively keep on top of homework. High school students would be expected to spend more time each day on homework as they have multiple subjects to juggle. Younger students however would be expected to spend much shorter time periods per day on set homework tasks. Use a wall calendar to keep track of homework assignment due dates, as well as family and other commitments that may need to be worked around.
Keep in touch with your child’s teacher. Check that your child is meeting their homework expectations. If they are finding the homework too difficult or too easy, make a point of discussing alternate options or modified homework to better suit their level of understanding.
Love it or hate it, homework is here to stay for the foreseeable future. By encouraging and developing consistent homework habits with your child, the exercise should become more hassle free.
Karen Carter is Co-Director at Kip McGrath Education Centre Burpengary, providing professional tuition by qualified teachers in Maths and English for Primary and Secondary students. Visit www.kipmcgrath.com.au/burpengary or call 3888 2332 for a free assessment.