How to help your child with their homework?

Many teachers would say the answer to parents as to how to help with homework is, 'simply don't.' Homework is designed for your child to practise and consolidate what they have learnt at school independently in order to embed their learning. Or it may be 'prep' which should be preparation for their next step of learning in class. The important thing to remember, and the source of frustration for parents is that you were not in the lesson and won't be in the next class. Hence, it is impossible to know what your child is meant to be consolidating or what they are preparing for. Things often get 'lost in translation,' between school and home and then the anxiety can kick in.

It is right to help enable your child with their homework. This does not mean completing it for them or correcting every mistake before they present it to their teacher. Some tips that might help:

Try to see homework as your child's chance to share with you what they have learnt or experienced at school.

  • Avoid using this as an opportunity to share with them how you learnt at school or how well or badly you did at similar tasks. This will merely confuse and distract your child and give them yet another set of expectations and methods to remember.
  • Establish a routine that works for your family. Home, snack, homework, chill, family supper, bed...might work or your child might need to relax before homework or do it as soon as they get home. This is for you to decide but stick to what works.
  • For children who can be disorganised or struggle due to dyslexia, help with practicalities. Have an identical pencil case for home and one that remains at school. Then there can be no anxiety over forgotten kit or writing with a pen that isn't as comfortable or having left a bit of kit in their desk at school.
  • Here at St Catherine's we encourage the use of iPads an organisational tool as well as for the apps available. If your child uses an iPad at school, remember that they can take a photo of their homework written on the board or examples shared by the teacher. Nothing makes a child more anxious than having written their homework in a planner but then not being able to read it back or remember quite what it was meant to say.
  • If homework becomes a real struggle, consider leaving your child at school to complete it in a supervised homework club. This leaves work at school and means that home can be for relaxing and play. Completing homework with a friend or neighbour can also be helpful as again it means there is a set time and place for it and a bit of support in working alongside a peer.

Keep calm and communicate any concerns to your child's teacher their next morning.    

Naomi Bartholomew