Making time to support your child with their school work can be a struggle. Especially on top of working, shopping, cooking a meal, bath time and all the hundreds of other jobs that parents have to complete on a daily basis. Here are a few handy tips and hints to make supporting school work more manageable, allowing you to offer the best support possible to your child. Remember, it doesn’t have to be hours each day. All help you can give will be beneficial.
1) Let kids have some wind-down time after school. Their minds have been active all day so get them some time to play and switch off. Getting them to do homework as soon as you get home probably isn’t wise. Choose the right time, not too near bedtime as they’ll be worn out, but perhaps after a meal so they are refreshed.
2) Get organised. Consider a family calendar to keep track of school dates, homework and other assignments. A weekly overview of what needs to be done and by when can be so hopeful and ensures nothing gets missed. Get into a good school routine too, organised pack lunches, uniforms, school bags and homework the night before.
3) Decide on a homework routine and stick to it. Having a set time slot every day will help. They still won’t like to do it, but they’ll know it’s coming. Ten minutes of reading or homework a day can be much more effective than an hour a week. Be consistent.
4) Provide a special space where your child can complete homework undisturbed. A seat around the dining table, a desk in their room or a cushion in a cosy corner; wherever your child works best. Ensure they have all the tools they need: pens, paper, books and any other relevant resources. Keep the homework space calm and distraction-free, preferably away from TVs and video games.
5) Don’t do their homework for them, no matter how much they nag and moan! Offer them support and guidance, but don’t give them the answers. Your child won’t learn if they aren’t doing it themselves.
6) If time is an issue, consider asking extended family for help, can they spare ten minutes to help with homework or hear your child read? Chances are they’ll relish the opportunity to spend some extra time with them. If you have more than one school-age child, make it a homework club and get them to help each other.
7) Make time to talk with your child, whether it’s on the walk home, over dinner or during bath time. A conversation between parent and child can uncover needs and perspectives of which the teacher may be unaware. Finding out information about a child’s day can be tricky. Try asking them direct and specific questions such as ‘What was the best thing about school today?’ or ‘How would you rate your day at school out of 10? Why? These are much more effective than ‘What did you do today?’ Ensure you always feedback on any concerns to the teacher.
8) Most importantly: don’t worry. You don’t have to know the technical terms or strategies used in school, encouragement and support is enough and can give the children the confidence they need. If you’re unsure of something or don’t know the answer yourself, then explain that to your child and find a way to learn the information together. Search for the information together on the Internet or in a book, or speak with the class teacher about it.