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Does your child find it difficult to complete homework?
The hard truth for parents is that you cannot make your children do anything, let alone homework. What you can do is set limits, respect their individual choices and help motivate them to motivate themselves.
A daily battle …
Homework time can provide a daily battle for some parents with their children, whilst other children just get it done. This battle, once about homework, can escalate into other areas. There should be set consequences for their choices, but ultimately what you want is to raise a young person to make the right decisions for themselves.
The harder you force children to do something, such as homework, the harder they will push back and rebel.
An age thing
It is easy to get drawn into a confrontational situation with homework. Their age, the subject, the particular tasks, the length of the homework, as well as how their day has gone, can all be factors at play.
I have experienced my fair share of homework ups and downs. Remember your children do not need to be perfect and their homework certainly doesn’t need to be perfect!
As a father to two boys, I’m fascinated by how their approach and attitude to homework are completely different. Both boys go to the same school, and although they are two academic years apart, they have the same parents (both teachers) and the same home environment. One loves creative tasks, rushes his homework, not overly bothered about getting things wrong or producing scruffy work. The other hates creative tasks, cares deeply about following the rules on presentation, and becomes very upset when he gets things wrong.
Put yourself in their shoes
How many times do you get in from work and just want to curl up on the sofa watching rubbish television? The likelihood is your children have been challenged and worked hard throughout their school day. Similar to you, sometimes the last thing they want to do is even more work. It’s normal!
Listen to your children. Ask them about their school day.
What do they like and what do they hate? Our boys are very quick to offer their opinions! In a recent TeacherToolkit parent perspective article, a question is posed to teachers: Why does a child never do their homework? Or why is it completed to a poor standard? I would say this would be a good question for parents to consider too. If necessary, think about how you, as a parent, could change your approach to homework.
When homework is set, there is usually leeway. Help your children to map out their week and get them to agree in advance about the days for particular pieces of homework. Use quieter days to get them to finish more pieces of work and preferably, well before a deadline. On busier days, schedule less homework or just tasks that are easier to complete, without requiring a huge amount of effort.
For improving organisation, you could use a small whiteboard at home, and write down all homework for the week and when it’s due. We usually assume ‘doing it’ is the hard bit, but it can be organising and remembering to take it in on time for the right teacher, on the right day, is just as challenging. For vulnerable children, these tasks can be two-fold!
You could encourage your children to order their homework tasks by difficulty. Perhaps completing easier tasks first, before moving on to more complex and demanding tasks (or vice versa), This makes the process more straightforward.
Teacher Toolkit has a takeaway homework resource available for teachers to use involving giving their students a choice of homework for starter, main and dessert. Why not adapt this resource to work at home for your own children? Having a choice, even just for the order in which the tasks are completed, might make for a more harmonious household.
Using the carrot, more than the stick can be useful for homework tasks. In our house, writing out and learning spellings used to have a bad reputation. Perhaps link small rewards for completing homework without any fuss, such as a sticker chart that can add up to treats at the weekend? In our experience, earning time to play computer games at the weekend is very effective!
A good piece of advice given to me, which doesn’t just apply to homework, is take a consistent and fair approach with your children. Active encouragement is needed: Create space. Make home study positive. Let your child make mistakes. Be realistic about tasks and goals. Plus, insist that the work is finished. Remember, praise the effort not the outcome.
7 top tips
Finally, here are my 7 quick top tips for encouraging your child with homework.
- Be a good listener.
- Be supportive.
- Be encouraging rather than negative and confrontational.
- Be helpful and give ideas.
- Don’t expect perfection.
- Don’t do it for them.
- Don’t force it, let them take the consequences for their own decisions.
I hope that these points support your family with stress-free homework!