The half term holidays now feel like a very distant memory and for those of you in the midst of the exam season the sensation of free-falling into summer probably isn’t giddy and care-free just yet.
However, if your children have decided that school, post-Easter, is a time to kick back in their summer uniform and focus entirely on which sports day events they’ll be entering, you may be finding this time of year a challenge when it comes to homework. As an adult, I find it a challenge to sit indoors and be productive especially when the weather is getting warmer and the evenings lighter. It is therefore unsurprising that many parents find that getting homework achieved at this time of year to be particularly difficult. To help you out, we’ve come up with some ideas to help keep homework a happier experience during the summer term term… and beyond.
Routine is often one of the hardest things to achieve. Motivating your child once they’re home from school to do ‘more school’ is tricky. Energy levels are often flagging, and the distraction of home comforts, toys and television is enormous. The important thing, however, is consistency.
Have a set time for homework and stick to it, ideally, with the expectation that it happens straight after school. No one wants to be facing the task of long-division or writing a book report when they’re tired and should be in bed. Harness the ‘study mode’ for a little longer once your child is home and clear the way for a more relaxing evening. Ultimately, the most important thing to remember about routine, is that it won’t be a routine until you’ve been doing it for a little while, so perseverance and consistency are key.
Snacks make everything better!
Children are often hungry when they get home from school so when they sit down to do their homework, give them a drink and snack. Things are always better with food and sitting at a table enjoying a snack, whilst talking through what homework they have, can make the task a less-stressful experience. The distraction of food, coupled with the energy it provides, can help create a positive start to getting homework achieved.
Space and support
Where your child does their homework is important. Provide your child with a clear and quiet space to work. Your child’s brain will be working harder (and not in a good way) trying to filter out the distractions.
When it comes to support, some children like to be independent and reject parental help with their homework, whereas others feel more confident having a parent close by. Striking that balance of support, however, is not impossible. Why not tackle some life admin, or some of your own work, whilst they do theirs? If everyone is working, then no one feels that they are missing out on something more fun. Working alongside your child whilst they do their homework allows you to monitor and be accessible without being overbearing – and you might also get some of your own ‘homework’ done!
Cultivate a sense of achievement
Nothing is more demotivating for a child than feeling that their homework is for no purpose. As parents and teachers, we understand that building on the day’s learning through consolidation has benefits and that independent projects can help inspire curiosity, however, your child probably needs more tangible results. That doesn’t mean you need to reward them with chocolate at the end of every task (although that may help!), but you do need to cultivate a sense of achievement by praising a good effort.
Timetable, Flexibility, and teacher support
Help your child to timetable their homework to meet deadlines without that mad rush the night, or morning, before it’s due. Most schools will provide children with a homework timetable and diary, but if they don't here are some great ideas on Pinterest to create your own.
Ultimately, however, avoid leaving things to the last minute because panic doesn’t help anyone’s stress levels. That said, also be prepared to shift the schedule if your child is struggling with a task. Take time away and come back to it. If your child has spent a sensible amount of time on a task but has become stuck, write a note to their teacher explaining what they have found difficult. Creating a dialogue with the teacher means that they can adapt their planning and teaching to better support your child’s learning.