Homework hacks

Homework — some students (and parents) dread it, while others don’t seem to mind doing it. But how can you support your child to get the most out of homework?

1. Establish a routine

Having a set time and place to complete homework, such as the dining room table at 4 pm or the study after dinner, ensures it gets done and reduces frustration. A routine also establishes normalcy, teaches time management, and makes both of you accountable for sitting down together each day. Choose a space that’s free of distractions, including electronic devices or family conversations. It’s also important to make time for breaks and take into account your child’s natural cycles (which might be different from your own) to create and maintain momentum.

2. Make learning an activity your child loves

There will always be pain points when it comes to homework and school study. Even if your child is a VORACIOUS reader, they might recoil at the mention of geography or trigonometry. However there are ways to make learning, even the stuff they will never truly love, fun for both of you. Today’s children are digital natives so find the applications and websites that embrace an online, interactive approach to education.

3. Talk to your child about their challenges

It’s important to identify real or imagined learning challenges and address them. Stay positive about overcoming problems and keep things in perspective — difficulties aren’t insurmountable and failure is often a springboard for learning. Have a conversation about what your child is struggling with and use it to guide your approach to teaching at home.

4. Let your kids complete their own work

Sounds super easy, right? But holding back when you know you’re right, or over-explaining something to the point of answering means that kids will never learn to think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Offer suggestions, give guidance and build confidence, but at the end of the day, it’s your child’s job to think and answer and solve.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Becoming a parent means that we wear several hats (here’s looking at you, you beautiful hairdresser-psychologist-oven technician), but ‘trigonometry expert’ doesn’t have to be one of them. If you don’t excel when it comes to certain subject matter, there are plenty of people out there who do. Finding an expert on certain topics means that your child gets the best advice and instruction, and you don’t lose your mind analysing Shakespeare’s sonnets late into the night.

Some other tips that the tutors and educational experts at Cluey recommend which will support your child and make your and their lives easier:

6. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher

Your child’s teacher can give you tips on how to get involved and which areas to focus on. Attend school events and parent-teacher conferences to get to know their specific expectations when it comes to homework. This will also allow you to share observations when it comes to your child, which will benefit the way you both ultimately support them.

7. Personalise the learning journey

Think about your child’s natural energy cycles and decide together how to approach homework. Some kids need to start straight after school to maintain momentum, others need a longer break to decompress from the day. Some like to begin with the harder assignments first, while others prefer completing easier tasks to build confidence. This is a life skill that helps all of us approach our to-do lists.

8. Link everything back to the ‘real world’

It can sometimes be hard for students to see the benefits of what they’re learning. Algebra and equations might not feel like they have real-world applications, but drawing on examples of how this knowledge has helped you calculate your mortgage repayments or create a monthly budget for the family will add relevance to what you’re doing.

9. Get the right content

Find out which websites and books your child’s teacher recommends. Bookmark sites that you visit regularly during homework sessions.

10. A little praise goes a long way

Praise from a parent short circuits negative thinking and gives kids validation. This is not just important in your child’s younger years. Teenagers are still developing emotionally and often struggle with confidence. Praise specific improvements.

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