Years ago, homework was reserved for secondary school but these days, due to the pace of our world and the size of our curriculums, homework can come home from the age of four!
Homework can be a real struggle if time is limited (when is time not limited?) or when the enthusiasm is just not there for one reason or another. Also, at primary level, homework means parental input, a new task that appears in your world when your child starts school.
Homework tasks set from school (at a primary level) should either be a bit of preparation for a lesson that is coming (maybe a bit of research) or some consolidation work based on something that has already been taught. It can also be about supporting the basics (multiplication tables, reading practise and spellings).
It should definitely not be anything too tricky and for primary school age children, nothing that takes more than around 20 minutes.
So why does homework sometimes become a bit of a battle?
Like most parenting situations, struggles come when time is limited, tiredness is a factor, expectations are either unrealistic or not understood and communication is not clear. When your child starts to receive homework tasks from school, it’s a good idea to set a routine for it that everyone is expecting and prepared for.
Build the homework slot into your schedule, making it something that is comfortable and accepted. Really try to be positive about this slot of time. Children vibe from us and if we moan about homework time (let’s face it, it can be moan-worthy) then it will take on a negative connotation.
Putting in the extra effort to avoid a battle will be worth it in the long run, as positive attitudes towards homework will be needed later on when children are expected to work on school tasks at home for longer and with independence.
If a struggle is happening, try some of the following ideas:
I would always advise talking to the class teacher if it becomes a problem and trying a few of these tips…
- Keep homework sessions short – teachers would rather receive a shorter, higher quality piece of work.
- Make sure your child has a comfortable, well lit area in which to work, which feels like their own for the time they are there.
- If your child needs support, try to give it at a time where you can commit to just that one thing (this may be easier said than done!)
- If reading practise is a struggle, try reading a line each or closing the book and telling the story how you both think it may continue – then check back to see if you were right (see what we did there!).
- Praise, praise, praise the effort. Don’t always focus on the physical outcome of the hard work. Remember to praise the hard work itself as this will be what’s needed next time!
- Try to think of creative ways to spark imagination and make learning memorable. Getting outside is great for finding inspiration.
- Try to talk about homework tasks that seem tricky, which bits are a worry? Which bits are feeling easier? Don’t allow your child to fall into a pit of ‘can’t do’. Try to keep the focus on what they ‘can do’.
Remember, primary school age children are right at the beginning and are learning how to learn. Keeping homework sessions positive will be an excellent foundation for the future when the importance of independent study becomes key.
Finally, don’t beat yourself up if it’s not all perfect – it’s so much better to do what you can and prioritise happiness – children learn best when happy!