Homework has been part of students’ lives since the beginning of formal schooling. It is important because it can improve children’s thinking and memory. It can help them to develop positive study skills and habits that will serve them well throughout their lives.
However, homework is a source of complaint and friction between home and school more often than any other teaching activity. Parents protest that assignments are too long or too short, too hard or too easy, too ambiguous. Teachers complain about a lack of support from parents. Students grumble about the time homework takes from their leisure activities.
One thing to note, however, is that the hours in a school day are few and the time a teacher can spend with any one child is limited. Therefore, homework is needed to deepen each child’s knowledge of the topic taught. Teachers need the understanding and help of parents, and one important way that you can lend this support is by taking an interest in the homework that your children bring home and by finding the most effective ways to help your children with that homework.
Research shows clearly that children are more likely to succeed in learning when parents actively support them. When you read with your children, talk with their teachers, participate in school or other learning activities and help them with homework, it gives your children a great advantage.
This support is mostly needed during the elementary school years; and by high school, you can pull back and let your children take more responsibility for their homework schedules.
Helping children with their homework benefits you as well. It can, for example, be a way for you to learn more about what your children are learning in school and an opportunity for you to communicate both with your children and with teachers and head teachers.
Your interest in your children’s education can spark their enthusiasm and lead them to understand that learning can be rewarding and is well worth the effort.
Before we begin to discuss ways that you can help your child with homework, it is important to discuss why teachers assign homework and how it benefits your child.
Why Do Teachers Assign Homework?
Teachers assign homework for many reasons. Homework can help your children
- review and practice what was covered in class;
- get ready for the next day’s class;
- learn to use resources, such as dictionaries, libraries, reference materials and computer Web sites to find information about a subject;
- explore subjects more fully than classroom time permits;
- extend learning by applying skills they already have to new situations; and
- integrate their learning by applying many different skills to a single task, such as book reports or science
- develop good study habits and positive attitudes.
- work independently; and
- develop self-discipline and responsibility (assignments provide some children with their first chance to manage time and to meet deadlines).
- do better in school when the homework is marked and returned to them with constructive comments from the teacher.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
You need to help your children succeed with homework by providing clear messages about the importance of homework and specific support strategies.
There are three key messages about homework that you need to provide to your children:
- Homework is an important part of school
Your kids must learn to complete homework and hand it in when it is due. Holding them accountable for homework builds responsibility and time management skills.
- You will provide support as needed
Some children are genuinely overwhelmed by homework, either because they find it too difficult or because they don’t know how to work on their own. However, when you offer encouragement and assure them that help is available when they get stuck, they are less likely to become discouraged or frustrated.
- You will not do their homework for them
This message lets your children know that your role is to encourage and to help them get unstuck, while at the same time communicating to them that homework is designed to help them master skills that you their parent already got.
Practical ways to help with homework
Establish clear communication channels with your children’s teachers
This may take the form of a communication book going back and forth between you and school, or having you and the teacher sign off on homework books to ensure your children are adequately supervised at home and at school. Alternatively, you should take advantage of school open days and parent–teacher conferences, not only to understand the teacher’s homework policies and practices but also as ways to communicate to your children that you consider homework an important part of their education.
Check in with/motivate your children every day
Ask them about homework and their plans for completing it. ‘‘What do you have to do and when are you going to do it?’’ should be a daily mantra for you as you help your children plan for homework. Be positive about homework. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires. Motivate them and give them strategies for combating the negative emotions often associated with homework.
Establish clear homework routines
When you establish daily routines for homework
completion, you will not only make homework go easy and more smoothly, but you will also build habits that will make it easier for children to adjust to the greater
homework demands that secondary school and university present. To establish homework routines,
-Set a regular time for homework: Choose the best schedule that works for your family and let it be regular.
However, don’t let your children leave homework to do just before bedtime.
–Pick a place where homework will be done daily: Your child may enjoy decorating a special area for homework to make homework time more pleasant. Your homework area must be comfortable, well aerated, well lit, quiet and free from distraction.
–Provide materials needed to complete homework: Have available pencils, pens, erasers, rulers, glue, scissors sharpeners, jotter, calculator and a dictionary. Your Computers and smartphones are also great learning and homework tools useful for getting information through Internet resource sites.
–Decide on the hours to be spent on homework: Make plans for completing homework within a time frame. (i.e., list all the tasks to be accomplished, order the tasks, and work with your child to determine how long it will take to complete each task.
Some children may work well with quiet background music, but loud noise from the CD player, radio or TV is not OK. If you live in a small or noisy household, try having all family members take part in a quiet activity during homework time. You may need to keep your noisy toddler busy with toys.
Be a Good Example
Do this by showing your own love of learning. While your child does homework, don’t sit and watch TV. Rather, read books, magazines, and newspapers; write letters, lists, and emails; use math skills to calculate expenses or balance the chequebook or do other things that require thought and effort. Help your child see that the skills they are practicing are related to things you do as an adult. By doing these, you’ll help your kids understand that building knowledge is something to enjoy throughout life.
Help establish and maintain organizational systems
Help your children keep work spaces neat and set up systems to keep track of homework like using any of these checklists that suits your need. Homework sessions should end with children:
-Placing the homework in the appropriate folder or
backpack so they don’t forget it at home.
-Cleaning off the desk or workspace so that the next
homework session can begin in an orderly environment.
You may need to supervise your children during
this phase of the homework routine.
Many elementary school students often like to have someone with them to answer questions as they work on their homework. Try as much to be around them during homework. If your child is cared for by someone else, talk to that caregiver about how to deal with homework.
However, if the homework is meant to be done alone, limit your assistance. Your child won’t learn if he doesn’t think for himself and make his own mistakes. You can make suggestions and help with directions. But it’s your child’s job to do the learning. Too much parent involvement can make children dependent.
Talk about the homework
Talking and asking questions can help your child to think through his homework and break it down into small, manageable parts. Here are some questions to ask.
- Do you understand what you’re supposed to do?
After your child has read the instructions, ask her to tell you in her own words what the assignment is about. (If she can’t read yet, the teacher may have sent home instructions that you can read to her.
- Do you need help in understanding how to do this assignment?
See if your child needs to learn more, for example, about subtracting fractions before she can do her assignment. Or find out if the teacher needs to explain to her again when to use different kinds of punctuation marks. If you understand the subject yourself, you may want to work through some examples with your child. However, always let him do the assignment himself.
- Do you have everything you need to do the assignment?
Sometimes your child needs special supplies, such as coloured pencils, metric rulers and calculators, or information sources like maps or reference books. Check the internet for possible sources of assistance if you can’t provide the needed assistance.
- Does your answer make sense to you?
To check that your child understands what he is doing, ask him to explain how he solved a math problem or have him summarize what he has written in a report.
Be a monitor
Some children will need more help with homework than others, but a general rule of thumb is to provide the minimum help necessary or the child to be Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.
If your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers. Providing answers won’t help him understand and use information. And it won’t help him become confident in his own abilities.
If frustration sets in, suggest a short break. How closely you need to monitor your child depends upon his age, how independent he is and how well he does in school. Whatever the age of your child, if he is not getting assignments done satisfactorily, then he requires more supervision.
Check Completed Homework
It’s usually a good idea to check to see that your child has finished his homework satisfactorily. If your child is having trouble finishing homework, check his work, too. After the teacher returns completed homework, read the comments to see if your child has done the assignment satisfactorily.
Summarized for you below are the 10 practical ideas for helping children to complete homework successfully.
What practical strategies do you employ to make homework an easy business for your child? we would like to learn.