It’s no secret that most children aren’t big fans of homework when the school day is over, but you can help take the stress out of homework for them. As a parent, you are one of your child’s most important teachers and role models, so you can have a real impact on their eagerness to focus on their homework and do well.
None of us love the idea of doing more work in our own time, but with a few simple tips you could help your child do their homework without tears (from either of you!)
Don’t do homework for them
We know it’s tempting when you know all the answers. If you quickly do your child’s homework for them, you can both get to enjoy your evening faster. However, there’s a fine line between helping your child with their homework and robbing them of the chance to learn something from it.
If your child is struggling with getting on with their homework, simply doing it for them isn’t going to help either. Together you need to find a way to make homework more approachable. While homework might not ever be super fun for children, you can definitely make it more manageable by being there to support your child with their work.
How far should helping with homework go?
A survey conducted by YouGov showed that the majority of parents believe that you should help your child with their homework, however, most believe doing it for them isn’t helpful.
So how far is too far?
The important thing to keep in mind is that you’re there to support your child with their homework, not to teach them in particular subjects. Academic teaching isn’t for everyone and teaching methods change all the time, so too much input from you can actually steer your child away from the correct answers even with the best intentions.
So, rather than doing the homework for your child, you need to exercise some trust here. Trust that the teacher has taught your child what they need to know to do the homework, and trust that with your support your child will be able to work out their answers to the questions, even if they’re not the correct answers (we’ll get to that!).
Teach them it’s okay to make mistakes
Children are often afraid to make mistakes in their work, often because it means doing the same work over again until they get the correct answers. This can put a lot of pressure on them to always try to get the right answers, but that same pressure can create a negative association with homework.
So to turn that association around, you can frame mistakes as learning opportunities. When children make mistakes in their homework it shows their teachers which areas they’re struggling with and need more support in, or need to approach in a different way that better suits their way of learning.
Show your child that you trust their learning by allowing them to be confident in their answers, and remind them that even if the answer isn’t right they’ll be able to work with their teacher to get to the correct answer. Mistakes are an important part of learning, because they allow us to approach learning in a way that best suits us, so make sure your child knows that when you support them with their homework.
Be present and be interested for their homework
In a 2018 survey the BBC found that only 11% of UK parents help children with their homework. However, a 2019 American Psychological Association study found that parents being involved with children’s learning at home can improve students’ academic engagement and interest. So to ensure your child is motivated to do their homework, you need to make sure that you’re present and showing an interest in their learning.
As we said earlier, you are your child’s most important teacher and role model. By making sure you set aside an hour after school each day to work with them, your child will see how engaged you are with their learning. They’ll be more likely to come to you when they need help with their schoolwork, rather than developing an unhealthy and avoidant relationship with their homework.
Explore Learning’s 6 top homework tips
We know that homework can be a little bit stressful for both you and your child, so we want to help with that. We’ve put together a list of our top homework tips to take the fuss out of doing homework with your child.
1 – Set up a homework zone
Your home is probably full of fun distractions for your child, so it’s a great idea to set up a homework zone for your child. Setting up a separate space from somewhere to relax or play helps give your child some level of separation between their work and their down time.
A homework zone should be clean, tidy and cozy but with enough room for you to comfortably join your child when they need your help and during your scheduled homework time. Try to teach younger siblings to stay out of the homework zone during homework time too, so your child can fully concentrate.
2 – Put together a schedule and homework plan
Different children work best at different times, so talk to your child about their homework schedule. Some children will want to do their homework first thing after school, some children will want to unwind a little after their day at school. Either are fine, so set up a flexible schedule that works for both you and your child.
This is especially important if you have more than one child that needs to do their homework if you only have one homework zone for them, so there’s no arguing over space.
3 – Praise them and use positive reinforcement
Sometimes tensions can get a little bit high when you’re helping your child with their homework, especially if it’s something particularly difficult. They might get frustrated, you might get frustrated, but remember: it’s okay to make mistakes!
If your child is struggling with their homework, don’t get frustrated with them in the hopes that’ll lead to the right answers. Instead, praise them when they do get the right answer or if their working out is good (even if the answer isn’t correct), so they develop a healthy relationship with their homework.
4 – Have the right tools to help
Having the right tools isn’t just about having pens and paper ready, although you should make sure you’ve got your homework area stocked with the stationary for your child to work with.
For example your child’s school may provide them with a homework diary so that you know what they’re supposed to be working on, and you can sign it to show that you’re engaging with your child’s learning at home. You could also use more specific tools, like a GCSE revision timetable when your child is coming up to their GCSE exams.
5 – Figure out the best way to work with your child
Not all children learn in the same way, and you can work out together the best way to tackle homework. Some children prefer to work on their own and ask for help when they’re stuck, and some children prefer a bit more guidance. Even having background noise can be a benefit for some children with their learning, whether that be music or even television (provided they don’t keep turning around to watch!).
It’s also worth learning whether your child is an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner so you can work together in the best way for them.
6 – Do some reading together
Whether your child is new to reading or is reading the text for their GCSE exams, it’s always good to set some time to read together. Children love to share the stories that they’re excited about, so talk to them about what they’re reading. Sit down and read together, whether you’re reading to your child or reading different books together, just showing that you’re interested in being with your child while they go on their reading journey will give them all the encouragement they need.
Getting some extra help
If your child is consistently struggling with their homework then it might be time to take a new approach. Of course, their teacher will always be willing to work with them to make sure they do their best, however it could also be worth looking at tuition.
Our tutors will get to know your child and the way they learn best, and identify the best way to get them engaged with their homework. Whether they’re struggling with maths or English, we’ll help them get back on track, so why not book a free trial with Explore Learning and see how they can improve?