Helping your kids with their homework is a great way to take an active role in their education and teach them the importance of study skills. In this article, Rachel Hall, Managing Director of children's educational resource provider Busy Things, shares her top tips on how you can do just that.
Children do best in school when their parents take an active and ongoing role in their education and homework. Not only does this show them that these things are important, it can also be a great bonding experience as well. That doesn't mean you have to spend hours every night scratching your head over quadratic equations, you can support them by helping them put some best practices in place, while being on hand to offer assistance and talk problems through with them where possible. With just 11% of parents in the UK spending an hour per day helping their children with school work, compared to 62% in India (BBC), this is something we can do better at. With that in mind, here are my top tips for helping your child with their homework.
Come up with a plan
As a parent, you're responsible for any learning that takes place outside of school so, when it comes to homework, you need to be the one to put a structure in place. Ideally, you want your kids to be able to get their work done with minimal parental interference, but you should also be on hand to act as a guide and helper when necessary. That said, try to avoid being a bank of knowledge they can just tap into as this undermines the learning process.
Putting in place a nightly routine and enforcing it consistently is also a wise idea. Try to set a consistent time for homework each day and make sure you check that it has been fully completed. This lets your kids know that getting their homework done is of paramount importance and comes before TV, phone calls, video games, or other distractions.
Create a study area
To keep minds focused on the task at hand, it's a good idea to set your kids up with their own space where they can sit and do their work in peace. If your children are younger, they will likely feel more comfortable being around you while doing their work, so set them up in the kitchen or dining room where you can be close by. As they grow older, they may prefer to do their homework in their bedroom instead, just make sure you check in on them on a regular basis.
Wherever you decide to set up their study area, you'll want to ensure that it's comfortable, well lit, and free from distractions. Make it a place that your children actually like being in. You can do this by giving them some say over it, such as having some fun stationery or desk ornaments.
Nip problems in the bud
By being present while your child is doing their homework, you'll be able to notice if they start to have issues with their assignments and tackle any deeper problems early. A lot of the time, this is just a matter of putting better study habits in place, such as developing their organisational skills or removing any distractions. Make sure they are always writing down their assignments correctly and keeping track of their homework across their various classes.
If they are having issues with a particular subject, it might be worthwhile to have a chat with their teacher to gain some more insight into what's going on. By being proactive, you can stay on top of any developing issues. A problem understanding concepts or completing their homework could be down to a deeper underlying issue such as ADHD, learning difficulties, or even a vision or hearing impairment.
Use available tools
All kids learn differently. And, it's inevitable that, at some point, your children will come up against a particular subject or concept that they just can't wrap their head around. If you can help them tackle these problems yourself, then that's great. But it could be worthwhile to invest in some specially designed extra help that can help to spark the enjoyment of learning.
Online educational platforms can be a great addition to your teaching arsenal, with hundreds of curriculum-linked games and activities for kids from age 3-18. Tools like this can be a great choice for your children, especially if there is a particular subject you don't have the knowledge to teach. They are also a great way to reinforce the ideas that the kids have been learning in school, building stronger connections by making learning fun.
While homework can often be boring when compared to other activities, creating a study structure for your children early will pay dividends in the long run, especially once they start their GSCEs and A Levels. Follow our simple steps and you can make learning fun again!