Positive ways to help your child with their homework

Published on Wednesday, 25 March 2020
Last updated on Thursday, 19 March 2020

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The idea of doing schoolwork in home time isn’t always appealing. Some kids struggle with their homework, procrastinate or simply refuse to do it, but it is important to support your child’s home learning. 

With your help, your child can gain confidence in their abilities, learn study skills and maybe even improve their academic achievements

The tricky thing, though, is knowing how much help to give. Because although your interest and involvement are important, it’s also important that your child is given the space to complete their homework independently. 

Homework teaches children how to learn for themselves, and although it might be easier and quicker to do their work with them – or even for them – this isn’t necessarily in their best interest. 

While some parental assistance can motivate and engage your child, an analysis of 480,830 families  has found that too much assistance with homework can actually have a negative effect on children’s educational achievement.

To enable you to strike the right balance between helping and helping too much, here are four pointers from Monash University lecturers, Melissa Barnes and Katrina Tour. 

1. Praise and encourage your child

The experts say that, ‘Your positivity will make a difference to your child’s approach to homework and learning in general. Simply, your presence and support create a positive learning environment.’

This means that instead of asking your child if they’ve finished their homework yet, it’s beneficial to sit with them, support them and build their confidence in completing tasks on their own. 

You can ask them questions, discuss what they’re learning, offer encouragement and be actively engaged, without grabbing their pencil!

2. Model learning behaviour 

This technique is used in early learning and school environments and it involves educators showing what they’d like their students to do. 

When it comes to homework, modelling is a good way for parents to help children if they can’t work something out. 

All you need to do is sit down and show your child how you would answer the question or complete the task. Do the next one together, then get your child to do the following one on their own.  

3. Establish a homework plan

If your child is feeling very frustrated with their homework, the experts suggest that you create a plan together to tackle it bit-by-bit.

A homework plan involves:

  • Reading and understanding the homework task
  • Breaking the task into smaller, logical pieces
  • Talking about how much time is needed to complete each piece
  • Working backwards from the deadline and creating a timeline
  • Putting the timeline where your child can see it
  • Encouraging your child to mark off the tasks as they do them to see the progress being made

This approach makes things more manageable, and a homework plan is valuable as your child gets older and their workload really starts to stack up.

4. Make space for homework

Your child’s life is busy with school, extra-curricular activities, family commitments and the need for free time, but it’s important to fit home learning in as well. 

To create positive study habits, parents are encouraged to allocate family time for homework. For example, you might dedicate one hour after dinner to a study activity, which involves your child doing homework while you read a book.

Also, think about how you can create an inviting and comfortable reading space for your child to learn in, complete with good lighting, room to stretch out and no distractions. 

How else can parents support learning at home?

Homework is just one way that you can get involved with your child’s learning outside school hours. 

As a parent, you can support home learning by: 

  • Conversing with your child about different topics
  • Reading with them
  • Providing ongoing learning opportunities (e.g. you could visit a science centre, watch a documentary or spend time online together)

At the end of the day, you play a key role in encouraging your child to take responsibility for their own education and think for themselves. 

By creating a stimulating environment for learning and being present in their lives, you can build your child’s confidence, motivation and skills without doing their homework for them. Go team!

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