In partnership with Anita Flynn and Alice Curry
After a day at school, it’s understandable that children sometimes show resistance towards completing homework and need more than a little homework encouragement. It makes it not only a daunting task for students, but parents and carers as well! However, homework consolidates learning, assesses what they’ve learnt and highlights any areas for development. Going forward, it develops useful skills, such as independence, resilience and stamina, that will be required for future assignments and exams.
To help families and childminders tackle the homework game, we have partnered with two wonderful childcare experts, Anita Flynn, also known as Nanny Anita, and Alice Curry, from Nanny Inspiration Station, to share some pearls of wisdom and techniques for homework encouragement. Below are some of the top tips to include into your child’s homework routine and make it a smoother and more successful process.
How to provide homework encouragement
Set a routine
Setting up a daily homework routine is a great way to encourage consistency. Create a timetable with your child to help them feel more involved.
Anita Flynn: Set yourself a routine. We always do homework once we get in. We put our stuff away and then sit straight down to complete it. That way, I’m not pulling them away from an activity that they are engaged in. Sometimes I might give them an option; either they can do their homework first and then play or they can play for so long and they can come and do the homework before dinner. For older children and teens, I will remind them that there are consequences to their actions. If they don’t do their homework, they are going to be in trouble at school, which can result in more work or detentions. However, I will acknowledge that homework isn’t fun and I understand that they would much rather be doing something else.
Alice Curry: Get into a good routine of doing homework. After coming home from school, make sure they wash their hands, have a little snack and then they can get going with their tasks.
Avoid distractions as much as possible
Keep technology and toys out of sight when doing homework. Removing all distractions will allow children to focus better and engage in the activities they are doing.
Anita Flynn: I always find it easier to do homework in a surrounding that has no distractions. No TVs, no music in the background, no toys around. I make sure they have had a snack, that they have water, and all they need to do their homework is already on the table. I made up homework boxes for my charges – they contained all the stationary they would need and paper. I find a communal area like a kitchen table where you can supervise multiple children is better than having them in their rooms.
Alice Curry: Some children have a love hate relationship with homework. Let them have a healthy snack beforehand, so they’re full and focused. Avoid something sugary where they need to burn off the energy! Allowing them access to a quiet environment, dedicated to homework, away from any distractions is a good place to start. Whether this be a desk in their bedroom or at the kitchen table, somewhere they can concentrate is key. Try and keep this area quiet, with few distractions like music, toys and electronics.
Make use of positive reinforcement
Words of praise and encouragement can go a really long way! Positive reinforcement will boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem and provide them with excellent tools to develop problem-solving skills. It can also make homework a more enjoyable experience for everyone, and homework encouragement much easier too!
Alice Curry: Give your child lots of positive reinforcement. You don’t want homework to become a negative experience! Giving them praise during and after will give them that much needed motivation to keep going and reduce the chances of a dreaded tantrum. If they really need that extra motivation, try a reward chart – it can work towards a simple treat such as watching a movie at the weekend together.
Communicate with the teachers
Talking to your child’s teachers and staying in regular contact with the school can be an effective way to understand what is expected of your child’s homework.
Anita Flynn: If they are finding part of their homework too difficult or they don’t understand it, I generally write in their books that they didn’t understand. That way the teachers know where they need help. They don’t want to see my answers. Moreover, with things like Maths and English, the teachers will teach it in a different way to how I would explain it. Therefore, I don’t really want to confuse them. If it is something I know that they know, and they are just having a moment, then I’ll talk them through an example.
Empathy is key
Understanding your child’s emotions and allowing them to express them freely can help them engage with their homework better.
Anita Flynn: I empathise with them. I tell them, I totally understand not wanting to do it. Unfortunately though, it is not optional and we have to do it. So let’s sit down and get it done and out the way. Then we can get onto the fun things that they want to do. Dealing with the tantrums over homework is hard. For little ones, I will acknowledge their emotions. They’re tired from a day of school, of course they don’t want to do it. I don’t try to reason with them until they are calm. Once they are calm, then I’ll gently remind them that it has to be done. My biggest tip for homework encouragement is to be understanding of their dislike of it. That way they know I’m on their side and not just another adult constantly telling them what to do.
Alice Curry: Be understanding to your child. Of course, they may struggle from time to time with doing homework each day after school, they are human after all. Be as positive as you can, offer to assist them if they need help, but give them their own space to problem solve allowing them to become more independent each day.
Be aware of timings
Children have different focus skills and attention spans. Make sure you give them enough time to complete their tasks, but also little breaks. This will help them to concentrate better and complete their homework more efficiently.
Anita Flynn: Keep it short. Ask the teachers how long they should be spending on each piece of homework and stick to it. If it’s 10 minutes, then stick to 10 minutes. Set yourself a timer. What is not completed after that doesn’t get done. Then write a note at the bottom of the homework saying that is where they got to. If you have a child who is really into what they are doing, then let them finish. For those reluctant children, the timer really helps.
Alice Curry: If your child is struggling to concentrate, break it down into 15-20 minute bite sized chunks. Give them a timed five minute break in-between each chunk, let them go outside and get some fresh air, hydrate or just stretch their legs and have a change of scenery. This will help them focus and increase their attention span.
At The Golden Circle, we have an excellent team of educators who can help your child develop the necessary techniques and skills to tackle their homework and engage more effectively with their learning. For more information, get in touch with us via email or via our contact form. We are always on hand to help.
Anita Flynn (Nanny Anita)
Anita Flynn has been working in childcare for almost 21 years, covering all sorts of settings from private families, hospitals, schools, nurseries, Scouts, summer camps, and even providing the children’s entertainment onboard The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy (two of Disney Cruise Line Ships). She completed her training at Norland College in 2008. You can find more of her expert opinions in MyBaba, An Organized Life, Family Helpers or her Instagram page.
Alice Curry (Nanny Inspiration Station)
Alice is a fully qualified Norland Nanny and Maternity Practitioner. She was lucky to train at Norland College in Bath, giving her amazing opportunities to work all over the world. She set up Nanny Inspiration Station to help inspire fellow nannies and parents on activities and meals with their little ones. She is currently working part time, for an UHNW family based in London, and offering consultancy and child related advice to families via Bloss. Read more and find more useful resources in Bloss Life, the podcast Listen Notes and her Instagram Page.