If you’re the proud Papa of a small human aged anywhere between five and seventeen they’ve most likely just kicked off a whole new school year. That means required reading, interactive online math websites and studying towards NCEA exams. So what exactly can you do to help nurture and maintain healthy homework habits for your offspring?
- Get to know the teacher
Swing by a parent-teacher evening, pop into the classroom in the morning or send off a friendly email. If you take the time to introduce yourself and hear from the horse’s mouth exactly what it is the teacher expects of your child throughout the year helping them through homework will be that much easier and a lot more effective. Some schools and teachers also now post homework via blogs or particular apps which make it easier for parents to track what’s supposed to be happening. Meeting the teacher will ensure you know if there is anything of that nature available to you.
- Don’t do too much.
Sally doesn’t know how to spell a word? Luke asks you the answer to a simple math question? Although it may be second nature to help your children out as much as possible by throwing them an answer now and again you could be doing more harm than good. By offering up answers you’re potentially hiding an area that needs attention from a teacher and possibly making it harder for your child to keep up in class. Instead take the time to help them work it out. Offer Sally a dictionary and show Luke how to do the equation with a pen and paper.
- Create a schedule
Regardless of the age of your child having an after school and homework schedule will help form the healthy study habits that will make further education and work requirements that much easier when they’re all grown up. Set an after school routine. A set of twins I work with come home, put away their lunch boxes and shoes and get changed out of their uniform before sitting down for a snack and homework. If your child is dealing with a high volume of homework write out a plan before they get started and make sure to schedule ten-fifteen minute breaks every hour.
- Have a study zone
It’s important your pintsized people have somewhere they can do their homework uninterrupted. Younger children benefit from space that can be heavily supervised, say a kitchen table, while older students may do better with their own desk. Keep the area free of distractions – No TV, loud music or internet. If they need internet access there are a variety of free or paid for apps that will block social media and other distracting websites so kids can study without the temptation of procrastination. Check out Anti-Social, FocalFilter and Cold Turkey is just three options available.
- Be prepared
Keep all the supplies you need handy for homework time. Set out pens, pencil and anything else that may be needed before hand. If you have students currently in the NCEA framework look into some of the study guides they can use to work through during the year. If they’ve got all the right tools at hand homework and study will become a much calmer and easier process.
- Lead by example
Let your children see you reading books for enjoyment or working out the budget at the kitchen table. Don’t wait until they’re in bed to finish off the work you had to bring home with you. If they see you putting pen to paper or working on your laptop doing something more than refreshing facebook on a regular basis the idea of homework becomes a norm. Children who watch you work at these things on a regular basis will grow up with a better understanding of the real world application of the self discipline and organisational skills they pick up doing homework.
- Have fun with it.
If you have a child who’s writing a report on spiders reward their hard work by YouTubing “Best spider induced screams” or finding bizarre facts about creepy crawlies that will capture their imagination. Show older children the practical application of what they’ve been working on, or how what they’re learning slots in with what they want to achieve as adults. A young person I work with wants desperately to be a vet and struggles in math class. We recently popped into a local vet clinic and asked why math is so important and after having it explained by a figure of authority in the area she one day wants to work in the young person has made a considerable effort to better understand maths.
- Ask for help
I work with people in intermediate school and occasionally they bring home homework that I don’t understand. Sometimes it’s a communication breakdown between teacher and student and sometimes it’s because I actually can’t recall learning it and have completely forgotten. In situations like this it’s best to ask another adult, or the teacher, for help. Not only will it save everybody a lot of frustration and confusion, you’ll be teaching your children that asking for help is ok. If there is a particular class you
Don’t forget to send us your favourite homework hints and tips to help out all those other parents out there.