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Helping your child to manage their homework

Homework isn't always enjoyable, especially when your child find the task too difficult, doesn't fully understand it or would rather be playing outside or watching TV. How can you encourage them to 'have a go' and help them make the task seem less daunting? 

Create a work space 

Set up a homework area, away from any distractions. Make sure it is free from clutter, but has everything your child may need - paper, handwriting pen, pencil, rubber, sharpener, dictionary and any other essential items. If your child doesn't have enough space for thier own desk in their bedroom, the dining table is fine, as long as the background noise is kept to a minimum. Try setting up a reading corner for any younger siblings, so they can be included in the homework time and also less likely to cause a distraction. 

Make a timetable together 

Provide periods for work and play so there is a clear beginning and end. This can help children work towards finishing a task by a particular time (although it’s important to remind them not to rush).  All children are different – some will work better straight from school while they’re still in ‘learning mode’, others will need to recharge for half an hour, run off some energy or have a snack before they’re able to concentrate.

If there is a lot of homework, or more than one subject in the same evening, schedule a break in the middle to the make the workload more manageable.

How much input should parents have their child's homework? 

When your child’s teacher reads the pupils’ homework, they can see how much they have learnt in class and what they need more help with, so it’s important not to have too much input.  Encourage your child to read through the task properly, make sure they understand it and try for themselves before you give any help.  If your child is unsure of an answer and asks you for help, discuss ways they might be able to find the answer rather than just telling them.  They’ll feel proud for working it out themselves and you’ll be helping by teaching them problem solving skills.  If they are really struggling with something, encourage them to take a break and come back to it later with a clear head.

Ask them to check their own work, reading through and seeing if it makes sense, or, for maths, they can check the answers with a calculator.  Check with your child’s teacher at the beginning of term to see if they’d prefer you to help your child correct any mistakes, or whether they’d like homework to be handed in ‘as it is’.  If it’s the latter, you can still encourage your child to check it themselves, giving them a list of things to look out for, or by downloading the handy checklist.

You could circle any spelling mistakes, rather than correcting them yourself, then ask your child to think carefully about them.  Any rough drafts could be kept in your child’s homework book so the teacher is aware of any mistakes that were made along the way.