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Homework help takes many forms – from reading with your four-year-old to puzzling over trigonometry with your 14-year-old.
The important thing is that you’re there to help, whether that’s giving advice or knowing when to say: “You’ll need to ask your teacher.”
The key is to make sure homework gets done with the minimum of fuss. Most kids resent having to do it at all – but shouting at them very rarely shifts that attitude.
First up, make sure they’re fed and hydrated before they hit the books and they’ll be less likely to get grouchy. Try to have a little patience with them when they inevitably get narky about “more stupid homework” – after all, did you enjoy it?
Have a look at our handy hints for homework help.
Get into a routine
In the early years at primary, homework tasks shouldn’t be too taxing or take up huge chunks of your child’s time after school.
One of the best ways to get your kids to buckle down with their books is to make the homework help session part of the regular routine.
Give them some attention while they work. Sit by them and gently encourage them to stay on task – laying down the law is not what children need at the end of a tiring school day.
If you’re listening to their reading and they’re finding it a drag, take turns reading each sentence or page.
Liven up spelling practice by asking them to set you tests (of course, this’ll help them test their spelling too). Or perhaps you can make up a quick word search with the spelling words hidden in it so it’s more of a game.
As for maths, just don’t panic. Somehow, it’s socially acceptable to say you’re rubbish at maths in a way that no one ever says they’re rubbish at reading. If junior hits trouble, take a deep breath and try breaking the problem down into stages. If you both hit difficulties, head for the section headlined “No Guessing” below.
Give them peace
Children in the last couple of years of primary school get homework that gives them an idea of what’s expected at high school.
Their tasks are longer and require a good deal more independent action and thought. So give them room and peace to get on with it.
Don’t let them head off to their bedroom – the tablet and the TV will go on and distract them. Instead, set them up at the kitchen table while you get dinner organised.
That way, if they have any questions, you’re there to help, and you’ve got a task that will stop you distracting them!
At the same time, you’ll be nearby if they need homework help.
Don’t do it for them
Your child needs homework help, not someone to do their homework for them. Don’t go down that route.
People learn by doing, not by having things done for them. So, instead of working out their multiplication problem, calmly show them how it’s done.
If you’re having difficulty explaining just how to do that, there are online resources such as BBC Bitesize that can help.
Remember, if you do your child’s homework, it gives their teacher the wrong impression about how the child is taking in what they are learning in class.
And if the homework task is to make something – a Viking longboat, for example – don’t draft in grandad with his joinery tools. No one learns from that, except teacher will know who to call if they need new skirtings.
If your little one doesn’t know the answer, and you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Also, don’t go hunting for the solution online, unless research is part of the task.
Instead, write a short note to teacher in the homework diary, explaining the problem.
The same goes if you’re having to give help repeatedly on a particular topic – the teacher needs to know so they can help your child.
Read your children’s books
There’s homework you can do that teachers never give out – reading a bedtime story.
That fuzzy, cuddly family time fosters a lifelong love of learning and reading as well as helping your child wind down.
We hope this helps with the homework routine as kids return to school.
Check out our recent parent guide if your kids are struggling to settle back in to the new school year.