Homework is such a controversial topic.
Responses such as the ones below are often seen.
I think homework should be banned. It pushes people off the subject and does the opposite to promote learning.
Homework is often completed at home where a student should be relaxing and enjoying time with their friends. Instead they are forced to complete useless tasks.
I think homework should be abolished. It does not help them in any way. It only increases the workload of pupils and puts them under stress.
Yet something happens to these students when they reach year 10.
Here are our nine top tips for you, as parents, to help your child:
1. Be a good motivator and monitor
It is a horrible feeling when you find something tricky. Everyone feels this from time to time. At these times, we want to shout from the rooftops, “I can’t do it anymore!”. Homework should never feel this way. The teachers won’t be setting any work your child can’t do. Remind them that making their best effort is better than not doing it. No one is seeking perfection. Keep being that encouraging voice that they need to hear. By all means, help them but make sure you don’t end up doing it for them.
2. Time Blocking
As its name suggests, time blocking allows them to break the work they need to do into manageable chunks. This means they can zero in on a single task instead of switching from one thing to the next. Thus completing it in a fraction of the time. It is also essential to time block personal time (aka gaming time). To get started, ask them to try dedicating 15 to 30 minutes to one subject. It can be helpful to think of it as imposing a limit on how much time they spend on their work. They might like this way of thinking!
3. Avoid calling it a ‘job’.
There are two types of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic. Have you ever said, “It’s your job to do homework”? When we think of a ‘job’, not everyone jumps for joy and goes ‘, yes, I’d love to do that today!’ Sometimes referring to homework as a ‘job’ brings negative emotions. Forcing or using bribery will only backfire as it reduces any of the intrinsic wishes to learn.
4. Let them share their knowledge with you.
Sometimes it can be helpful to get an answer wrong intentionally. As they age, this becomes easier and less of a planned error. Even so, it is empowering for your child to share their new knowledge with you. As this helps instil enjoyment in learning.
5. Do the opposite.
This is when you use reverse psychology. The aim is to encourage your child to maintain their homework schedule. This is a form of manipulation but is excellent for strong-willed tweens and teens. Remind them of the consequence. For example, “don’t do your homework, that is fine with me, but you may fall behind. I would never use the ‘fail’ word because there is a result of a failure that is difficult to come back from. However, implying you’d fall behind has implications. It suggests you might fail an end-of-year exam, but it is not verbalised.
6. Create a plan of attack.
Don’t be afraid of natural consequences. Sometimes we need to learn what happens if we do not do the homework on time. Is it lost marks or a reduction in house points? Perhaps it is worse… detention? Part of growing up is being able to explain and reason our actions. Gone are the days when we could say, “The dog ate my homework, Miss”. The key thing to establish is your child is unwilling to do it. Or did they forget because they didn’t have a ‘system’ to help them? During the teen years, planning and organisational skills are still developing. You can help them create a system (aka a plan of attack). It’ll help them manage homework deadlines. This could be done by scheduling due dates on their phone with set reminders. Or you could go ‘old school’ with a whiteboard or planner.
7. Consider renaming it?
Just because it’s called ‘homework’. It doesn’t have to happen all at home. Assignments can occur anywhere. If you have a busy household, the work can happen at school or during a study period (if they have one). If a friend understands a topic better than you, they could work together. It can be more enjoyable with some healthy snacks – healthy ones!
8. Encourage breaks.
I often hear of kids spending their whole weekend doing homework. This is not healthy. They are hiding and on their video games, or they are lost and unsure of what to do next. No homework should ever take this long. Every hour completed should be at least a 15-minute movement break. The body needs movement to re-energise the brain, and blood must flow around the body. Having music on in the background is not always a bad thing. Sometimes the rhythm of the music can help with the pace of the written work.
9. And. . .if they’re doing and finishing the work.
Great, your child is doing their homework. That is the first step completed. The next step is to make sure this learning habit strengthens. Yes, the schools measure exam grades, but that is not what school is about. It is about instilling enjoyment when learning. To explore. To develop ideas and to grow into a wonderful person. Keep encouraging them to finish their homework. You never know; they may even complete it before the due date.
But what ways can your child help themselves with their homework?
⬅️ This is such great advice and often overlooked. Big jobs seem so much more manageable when it is broken down.
⬅️ This bit of advice is a gem. How many of us are guilty of having too many tabs open? The magic number to avoid overwhelm is 5.
⬅️ Studying is hard work and remembering ‘the why’ is so important. However tough it may seem when there is a good reason behind doing something we can always muster up the energy.
⬅️ Anywhere, any time and any place will do as long as the homework gets done. (And to a high quality).
⬅️ Love a bit of organisation. As a visual person, I have found using coloured plastic folders is a great way to help myself stay on track.