Homework can be one of the most disliked aspects of going back to school.
Well, one of the most disliked parts of school in general – for both parents and children.
It’s still an essential part of going to school and as bad as it it, can help your child learn better. This is why it is important to make sure homework is involved in your daily routine, and that it gets done well.
Setting up a strict homework routine, and sticking to it, will ease the homework woes for everyone. Strict doesn’t necessarily equal mean, just well-understood and closely-followed as part of a normal day.
Working out a precise schedule before school goes back includes:
- When to do it – what time of day best suits your children’s levels of energy and focus.
- Where to do it – find a specific space for homework to be completed.
- What rewards, if any, they get for doing it – an incentive scheme can help focus them to complete homework.
- How long it should take – set a time-frame. If they’re taking longer than you expected, this may suggest difficulties.
- How much you should help – helping them do the homework can be beneficial, but how much can you help before you start doing it for them?
Schedule a set time each day to complete homework to get them in the right habit of doing it so they can continue this routine into higher grades. Depending on when you think your kids could focus best, this time should be either as soon as they get home, or after some unwinding time on their own.
Completing homework when they are still in the school frame of mind is a good way to help them focus. In some cases, playing for a while after getting home from school means the child may not be able to settle down into homework mode. On the other hand, after having some down-time, the child might be more willing to spend time on homework. After all, who wants to work more as soon as they’re home?
Either way, it is important that you schedule a time suits your child’s individual needs, and include them in the decision as they know best how they feel after school. It is also good to let them have a snack before homework, so their stomach isn’t rumbling while they’re trying to concentrate. This can only take five minutes if you would like them to get started straight away.
Set up a specific room or part of the house that is dedicated to this strict homework routine, at least for that time of the day. It should be a well-lit, uncluttered area without distractions. The dining table works well if they can have quiet time to focus there – other family members should be notified that this area is off-limits while the child is studying.
It is a good idea to have all the resources they could possibly need kept in a box or on a shelf in the homework area, so your child can’t complain that they don’t have the glue, or scissors, or any other implement, necessary to complete the homework that day. The child’s bedroom is not a good place for homework to be done, as it is hard to supervise and make sure they are actually doing the work instead of playing with any number of toys or distractions that are in a child’s bedroom.
An incentive-based system that rewards the child for completing their homework that day is a good way to motivate them. Whether the reward is something fun to do on the weekend after finishing all their weekly homework, or something as simple as an extra 10 minutes play time after they finish each day, this can be a great way to get homework finished without constantly reminding them to focus.
In saying this, it is more important to have the work finished to a high standard than to have it done quickly and scrappily. Involve the quality of the work in the incentive system to ensure that they are actually concentrating and not racing through to get their reward.
Homework shouldn’t take all afternoon to complete, so schedule a specific time-frame for them to finish it. With some kids, racing the clock can make it fun to do homework, or if it takes you a similar amount of time to finish a job around the house, they can race you to finish. Ensure the quality of work is still there though, and adjust the time-frame accordingly.
Depending on their grade, primary school students could spend from 10 minutes to half an hour, maybe more if they work slower or have more homework for some reason. Be careful to take note if they are taking longer than you expected, or longer than they normally do, as this might mean they are having difficulties with a certain part, or homework as a whole.
How Much Help
Always make sure you are there to answer any questions that may arise during the homework process, but don’t just outright do their homework for them. If it is questions about maths, for example, prompt the child to figure it out for themselves by breaking down the problem into parts they can understand, then they can put it together for themselves. This will help them learn for themselves better and gives them a sense of accomplishment, rather than simply having you answering the problem for them.
After they’re done, check over their work to ensure it is all completed properly and no mistakes have been made. If there are mistakes, see if the child can pick up on them, and then explain what is wrong and help them do it correctly. Once everything is complete, designate a place for the finished homework to be put, ready to take to school. This can be a place in the child’s room, near the front door, or simply straight into their bag to minimise the risk of forgetting it in the morning.
When creating this strict homework routine, try not to work around extra-curricular activities. If you factor in too many after-school activities, it can push homework into the background, as most other activities require a commitment that homework often doesn’t receive. Plan your extra-curricular activities for when homework is already done, so the focus is not pulled from the important task of homework. These activities can also tie into the rewards system if that suits your children.
Homework can be daunting, but not if you put a strict homework routine in place – even before school starts. If you and your children agree and know what is expected of them, the task of completing homework in a timely and high quality manner can be achieved without the stress it can sometimes cause.
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