HELPING WITH HOMEWORK – WHEN

When to do it:

• Just as the children settle down to their favourite television programme?
• As they arrive home from school?
• When they’ve had their tea?
• While you’re cooking?
• After they’ve gone upstairs to bed?
• As soon as they get up in the morning?
• While they’re eating their breakfast?

The important facts:

• Children need a break and a run around when they get home from school. They may be hungry and need to eat before they can concentrate. No one can do his best if he’s tired or hungry – his mind will be on other things.
• Children won’t concentrate if they feel they’re being deprived of something such as a favourite television programme or a game of football with everyone else.

Some strategies you could try:

You could get together with the parents of your child’s best friends and agree to a time for homework that everyone sticks to. If your child is a loner, agree a regular homework time with him and stick to it.

HELPING WITH HOMEWORK – WHERE

Where to do it:

• Downstairs near the television?
• In her own room?
• On the floor?
• At a table?
• Near their computer?

The important facts:

• Children need a defined space, away from other children. They should have room to lay out all the things they may need to use – pencils, rulers, a dictionary, books. If you have more than one child needing to do homework they may be able to share a space and work at opposite ends of the same table. If they are likely to argue or annoy each other, they should work one at a time.
• Children need to have the fewest possible distractions. Television screens draw the and the children’s attention. Some music playing will be less distracting and many children can work well with this. Some strategies you could try
• Allocate the table in the dining room or kitchen for homework at times when you don’t need it.
• Provide a small table in your child’s bedroom if she has her own room or she shares with a child of a similar age who is also doing homework.
• Keep younger children out of the area while your child is doing their homework. Let her see that you are giving her status, that her time to do her work is important and that you respect her need for peace and quiet.
• If she has to work in the same room as the television, turn it off or keep the volume down low.

HELPING WITH HOMEWORK – DO I HELP?

Should I help him?

• Always, sometimes, never?
• Show him how you used to do it when you were at school, even if the teacher has shown him a different way to do it?
• If he gets something wrong, shout at him?
• Find him some books you have, to help him find out some answers?
• Give him the right answers to put in if he’s struggling?
• Go with him to the library after school the next day, to get some useful books?
• Help him to find a suitable site on the Internet to help him with some information he needs?

The important facts:

• Children need your support and encouragement. Use expressions like ‘have another go at that one’, ‘think again’, ‘are you sure?’ rather than scolding. It makes a better experience for you both, and your child will feel really good about himself when he spots his mistake and puts it right
• If your child’s work is always correct because you are giving him the answers, the teacher won’t realise that he is struggling with that level of work. She may even give him harder work, thinking that he has understood. If he has needed a lot of help, write this on the end of the piece of work or call in and have a word with the teacher. Try to tell her what it was that was giving him particular trouble – spelling, subtraction, and so on. Your child will see that you are on his side, and that it is okay to admit that you don’t understand and would like a little more help. There is no shame attached to not understanding something.

Some strategies you could try:

• Look through the homework with him and see what books or equipment he needs. If he needs additional books or information, put off doing the work until you have managed to gather all the resources together. You may need to go to the library to borrow books or use the Internet facilities there. If there is something, perhaps a dictionary. that you don’t have at home, ask the teacher if it is possible to borrow one. Now let him get on with the work.
• If he needs help, be positive, show him where to look or how to start, and then let him try for himself.
• If you don’t know how to do something, tell him the truth. Ask the teacher if she can tell you how to do long multiplication or whatever is causing the problem. If a number of parents have problems with the same thing she may be able to give you a 10-minute session after school one day.
• If neither of you can do something, and you’ve had a genuine attempt at it, write a note to the teacher, or speak to her, explaining the problem.

When?

• When she’s had a little break, but before she gets tired.
• Avoid times that clash with her favourite television programme.
• You could get together with the parents of her best friends and agree to a time for homework that everyone sticks to. If she’s a loner or doesn’t usually see her friends after school, agree a regular homework time with your child and stick to it.

Where?

• Allocate the table in the dining room or kitchen for homework at times when you don’t need it.
• Provide a small table in your child’s bedroom if he has his own room or shares with a child of a similar age who is also doing homework.
• Keep younger children out of the area while your child is doing his homework. Let him see that you are giving him status, that his time to do his work is important and that you respect his need for peace and quiet.
• If he has to work in the same room as the television, turn it off, or keep the volume down low.

Do I help?

• Look through the homework with her. See what books or equipment she needs. If she needs additional books or information, put off doing the work until you have managed to gather all the resources together. You may need to go to the library to borrow books or use the Internet facilities there. If there is something, perhaps a dictionary, that you don’t have at home, ask the teacher if it is possible to borrow one. Now let her get on with the work.
• If she needs help, be positive, show her where to look or how to start, and then let her try for herself.
• If you don’t know how to do something. tell her the truth. Ask the teacher if he can tell you how to do long multiplication or whatever is causing the problem. If a number of parents have problems with the same thing he may be able to give you a 10-minute session after school one day.
• If neither of you can do something, and you’ve had a genuine attempt at it, write a note to the teacher, or speak to him, explaining the problem.
• Use phrases to encourage her – ‘have another go’, ‘think about that one again’, ‘are you sure?’. Don’t scold her. If you feel yourself getting cross or annoyed, walk away and let her get on with the work by herself.