Rachel Vecht, director at Educating Matters, focuses on the importance of homework, even during the holidays!
I spent eight years handing out homework as a teacher, 15 years discussing it as a parent educator and, most importantly, practice what I preach on a daily basis with my four children at home.
Very few children have the maturity and motivation to rush home after a long day at school, or take a break from the fun Christmas festivities to say, ‘Oooh, I can’t wait to sit down and do my homework.’ Parents need to consistently guide their children to establish productive homework habits. However, homework is for children, not the parents!
Homework teaches children vital life skills such as motivation, problem-solving, self-reliance, perseverance and time management. With New Year just around the corner, now is the perfect time to sit down and establish clear rules around homework with your child. If you are consistent it will eventually become a routine and resistance will diminish.
Ten top tips
- Make sure homework happens before anything fun.
- Ensure they have a healthy snack or dinner before starting.
- Have a clear homework timetable stating when, where and how long homework should take. If they have no homework, ensure that they read instead.
- Set a time limit for each task and use a timer.
- Build in active breaks and divide longer projects into manageable chunks.
- Eliminate distractions, particularly younger siblings or any form of screen if it is not required for the homework.
- Descriptively praise and encourage every step in the right direction. For example, ‘You got all your homework out without having to be reminded. That shows real maturity.’
- Listen to how they are feeling. For example, ‘I understand you would much rather play on your iPad than do your homework, but…” Remain calm and try not to blame, criticise, lecture or nag.
- Give rewards for completing homework, such as screen time or an extra story.
- Introduce natural consequences if homework is not completed in the allotted time, for example they will have to miss a break and complete it at school.
Three simple steps to independent homeworking
- Talk through the homework with your child. Ask leading questions to guide them and ensure that they understand what they need to do. Ask, don’t tell.
- Let the child have a go at doing it alone. Ignore any delay tactics and don’t engage with them during this time.
- Review it. The parent and child should find three good things to descriptively praise and two things that could be improved. Don’t correct all the homework; teachers need to get a real sense of what a child is able to do independently.
Educating Matters deliver seminars and courses on a variety of education and parenting-related topics in homes, schools and to parents in the workplace