The dinner is burning on the stove top, child number three has dumped his bag in the middle of the hallway, the dirty hockey and soccer clothes are piling up, and I haven’t checked my SEQTA messages for days (hopefully the children have all done their homework and behaving themselves at school). After a long day at work and picking children up from various after school activities, the last thing many of us want to do is sit down and help our children with homework!
Parents play an important role in supporting their child’s education. Research has shown that when schools and families work together, children do better, stay in school longer, are more engaged with their school work, go to school more regularly, behave better, and have better social skills. That’s an impressive list! Homework is part of this partnership between the school and parents, so how can you help your child, in a way that works well?
1. It’s your child’s homework – not yours!
Firstly, it is really important to remember that the homework is actually the child’s and not yours. Many of us find it very tempting to take over the project and complete the assignment or homework for our children, but it is ok if they get things wrong.
This provides the teacher with information about what they can and cannot do and how the teacher may need to help them. By all means, provide correction and support, but don’t be afraid to send in maths questions they got wrong or evidence of homework mistakes they have made.
2. Give your child a chance to talk about their school work if they want to
Even if you know nothing about a particular subject, you can still help just by talking and listening and helping them to find their own answers. This values the learning your child is experiencing and shows interest in their activities, challenges, struggles and successes.
3. Help your child take responsibility for organising and doing their homework
Some children prefer to do homework straight after school, whereas others prefer to ‘unwind’ first, or have their meal then do homework later.
Discuss together what works best for your child and your family as a whole. It is good to give children some say in this but remember you are the parent and as parents, our job is to help set helpful parameters around bed times, screen time, physical activity and so on.
Help your child plan out their week. Let them know if their grandparents are coming for dinner this week and less homework time will be available on a particular night. Encourage them to develop a plan, especially for more long-term projects so that they can avoid last-minute disasters.
4. Create a homework zone
It’s very important to try to create a suitable place where your child can do their homework, ideally somewhere with a clear work surface, good lighting and no interruptions.
Try to teach younger siblings not to interrupt when homework is being done. With the use of technology so often involved in school work today, a public space where you can keep an eye on what your child is viewing (and potentially being distracted by!) is also important.
5. Read together (you too, dads!)
As a parent you are your child’s first teacher. One really practical way to help your child to learn is to read together, particularly when your child first starts school. But even as children get older they still love to be read to.
Remember to share storytelling duties between both parents, as dads are powerful role models and have a strong influence on their sons’ attitudes to reading. Let them see you and older children reading yourselves.
6. Keep an eye on things if you need to
Have you ever asked your child if they have any homework and they claim not to—but later you find out that they did and they didn’t complete it on time? Has there ever been a panic the night before a large assignment is due? Our online learning system, SEQTA, can help you with this.
For our secondary school students, SEQTA can tell you what homework your children have, when it is due and if they have failed to submit it on time.
If homework is taking a long time and exceeds the recommended allocation of time according to the school homework policy then send your child with a note or SEQTA message and give your child permission to stop. Your child’s teacher can look into why it is taking your child a long time and either adjust the homework being set or ensure they understand the expectations and concepts.
Don’t be afraid to contact your child’s teacher if you have questions about how you can specifically help your child at home.
Homework can be a wonderful time in sharing in the learning of our children and celebrating their successes. Don’t forget to praise them for their hard work!