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The Homework Struggle… Juggle!

Written by Madeline Mitchell –

The new school year has begun and so has the dreaded homework! For many families homework is a constant battle between parents and their children to get the homework completed and completed on time!

The arguments, the excuses, the procrastination and the overall frustration experienced in the household leads many parents to ask the question “Is there any benefit to homework?”

The answer is ‘yes’, depending on the quality and relevance of the homework.

Homework is a great opportunity for children to reinforce and consolidate their learning from the classroom. It should be an opportunity for parents to see what their child is learning at school and offer minimal assistance when necessary.

The big question is how to get your child to complete their homework on time and still juggle after school commitments such as sport training, music lessons and general household events!

Like many aspects of a child’s development, the key to ‘stress free homework’ is routine and reward! Much easier said than done, I know!!!

Trial a few techniques throughout the school year and adjust your strategies as necessary.

Here are a few simple tips to help you establish some valuable homework routines and rewards in your household:

  • Set a day/s and a time and try to stick with it! For example on Monday and Tuesday from 3:30-4:15 this is homework time!
  • Negotiate with your child a before and after homework activity or routine for example ‘When you get home from school you can have afternoon tea and 30 minutes free play before you do your homework’. ‘After you finish your homework you can have 30 minutes on the iPad’ etc. The time before and after homework is part of the routine.
  • Be realistic about timeframes. It is usually more beneficial for a child to complete their homework over a couple of shorter sessions rather than one longer session. This is trial and error and will depend on the individual child.
  • Establish a ‘workspace’ where your child completes their homework. Try to make this space the same each time your child does work from home. It should have a decent desk and chair, natural light and be uncluttered. A desk in the corner that is covered in books and papers is not a stimulating learning environment!
  • Avoid allowing your child to procrastinate. This turns homework into a longer and more painful event then it needs to be. Get it done and then you’re done!
  • Offer assistance when necessary but avoid ‘doing’ your child’s homework. If the homework is too hard for your child to do without assistance then you may need to mention this to the classroom teacher.
  • Remember the ‘Three P’s’ – patience, persistence and praise!
  • Negotiate rewards with your child for completing their homework on time and to the best of their ability. Hot tip when negotiating a reward… remember that homework is a weekly occurrence! You don’t want to be buying a new iPod every week! Something small and inexpensive will work just as well!
  • Call upon reinforcements if necessary. Utilise any extra help you have to assist in homework sessions and getting it completed.
  • Try to avoid showing your own ‘dread’ of homework. Stay positive and make sure you say positive things to your child regarding their homework.
  • Remember that homework is a great opportunity for children to consolidate concepts covered in the classroom. Talk to your child about their homework and try to make it an enjoyable learning experience.

It’s always a great idea to check in on your child and see what they are doing for homework. This is a great opportunity to see what they are working on in class and give you a bit of insight to how they are tracking.

If homework is a constant battle, week in and week out, it might be worth investigating if the actual homework is too hard. Homework that is too hard has a negative impact on a child’s confidence and the workload become a chore.

If you’re noticing that the homework is constantly too hard then you definitely need to have a quick chat with the classroom teacher to ensure that this same level of difficulty isn’t experienced in the classroom.

Attitudes are reflected in learning! Try to keep a positive spin on things and remember the benefits of developing lifelong learning skills!


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