My advice regarding homework is to start when your child is one! This may sound odd but homework can be classed as any educational work done in the home.
For a toddler ‘homework’ can be spending 30 minutes reading to them, using play dough, colouring with crayons, finger painting, playing with musical instruments or pots and pans if you don’t have any, water play, sand play and the list goes on.
The main point is that your child completes an activity that is educational. Most toddlers will need your help so this is also great bonding time but also great practise for you as their ‘homework’ will only get harder and longer!
When your child starts preschool, kindergarten and then big boy/girl school they will start to bring home homework. This will start with readers and completing tasks such as colouring-in and other activities that were not finished in class, also learning numbers and letters which moves on to writing and tracing.
Before you know it your child will have homework every night and there could be lots of arguing with them about finishing it on time!
Here are 6 tips on making homework stress-free …
1. Develop a homework habit
By starting homework when your child is young they get into healthy habit which will make education fun and not a chore. The best thing to do is complete the homework as soon as it comes in, or have your child do this if it is not a joint venture. This is helping to teach your child about being organised and prepared rather than rushing at the last minute.
Even if the work is not due until Friday get your child to complete the homework the night they receive it so that later in the week they are free for play dates and extra-curricular activities. Also then if they are given more homework later in the week it does not mount up causing anxiety and stress for you both to get it finished.
Doing homework over breakfast, rushed, when your child’s brain is not yet fully awake or functioning to their maximum is definitely not advised.
2. Be organised and reward good work
As your child’s homework grows it is best to have a planner, most schools provide a homework planner but if your school doesn’t you can simply buy a whiteboard so the homework can be altered from week to week. Your child can wipe off the completed homework to give them a sense of completion and achievement.
Small goals should all be rewarded and if your child is using a sticker or reward chart homework should definitely be added to give further encouragement and praise.
3. Help them when they need help
Be sure to help your child when they need and pay attention wholeheartedly, this means phones away and focus on your child, they are little sponges and if you don’t concentrate on them they will not concentrate on their homework.
Often a good place for children to complete their homework is at the kitchen bench while you make dinner, this way they are not being ostracized in their room to do homework and also you are there if they have a question or thought they would like your opinion on.
4. But don’t do the work for them
Never do your children’s homework for them, do it with them but let them have their own ideas and creations, as bizarre as they may seem. It’s very easy to read for them and answer the maths questions but your child will learn a lot more if you make them sound it out or add it up themselves, even if they make mistakes praise their effort and encourage them to try again. When they get their homework correct praise them for concentrating and listening in class, or to you if you were explaining to them.
5. Keep a close eye on internet-based homework
Make sure you sit with your child or close by if they are using the internet to research their homework, we all know what pops up on our screens from time to time and one wrong letter or click could have your child experiencing a cyberworld you wish they never found! I suggest keeping your computer locked and close observation when your child is using the internet.
6. Make homework fun
Most importantly make homework fun so it is not something to be dreaded and remember soon your kids will be moved on so make the most of this bonding time while you still have them at home.