Need a few tips help your kids doing their homework? Perhaps they’re always leaving it to the last minute, or say they don’t have any. Get off to the right start at the beginning of another year! For many children (particularly those in high school), the dreaded word, “homework” is about to rear its ugly head…
In houses across the North Shore (and the rest of the world!), homework can cause huge disruption and drama between parents and children. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Want to know how you can enjoy more peace and less fighting while getting homework done? Here are my top tips for starting the year off on a good footing with homework…
1. Kitchen Benches: One of the top homework tips
As far as homework tips go, I am not going to tell you to tidy the desk and have a special, quiet workplace. That’s just a myth. We all have to learn to work in normal environments, and the best environment is the one where a responsible adult can look over a student’s shoulder and see what their child is doing.
The kitchen bench top is a great place for homework, as the parent making dinner can oversee homework while preparing the meal, or completing other tasks.
Doing homework in a bedroom or quiet corner out of sight is one of the best ways to ensure daydreaming, time-wasting and lack of focus! We all take time to build skills – nobody just learns to sit down and focus on their own! We shouldn’t expect a child who has never sat and done more than 10 minutes homework in their lives, to be able to complete the hours that get piled on in high school straight away.
2. Break homework down into smaller chunks
It’s important to break homework down into chunks. Look at what they have to do, and when it’s due. Look at your calendar to see when you have opportunities to get it done. Have to practice your spelling? That 1 hour wait while one sibling does an activity can be the perfect time to knock off spelling with a waiting parent.
Get all the small, easy tasks out of the way, don’t leave them until last. Spelling, times tables, short answers, work books… get them done. Then you have time to plan and complete larger projects, essays and bigger tasks. It also feels like a great achievement when you have gotten all the smaller tasks out of the way, which builds a positive sense of accomplishment in kids.
3. Regular chores make a difference to time management skills
If your child is not doing any chores on a regular basis at home, many are going to struggle doing their homework. Why? Because chores are just a different kind of homework. Or, you might say, homework is just a different kind of chore!
If our kids don’t have to lift a finger to help without nagging and cajoling, we can’t expect them to just leap in and do this new homework “chore” with their own initiative, can we?
Set all your kids some simple, age appropriate chores that must be completed every week. If they have been consistently doing this throughout their primary years, not only will you find this incredibly helpful and time saving when they hit their teens, but they will have a more mature understanding of completing tasks – and a sense of capability too.
4. Get homework up on the wall
Have a wall calendar that everything can be written on and have it where the whole family can see it. All activities should be written on it.
Underneath, you can have individual wall calendars for each family member if you like, and this is where those who are in school are responsible for coming home from school when homework is given out, and writing the due dates on their calendar – now parents can see it too and help manage it and kids can have some agency over their timetable too!
It’s too much to keep it all in one person’s head (usually mums) and it’s unfair too. Let everyone be able to see the family timetable and work together to be organised.
5. All the habits count!
Do you pull your hair out over crumpled uniforms that should have been taken off straight after school, or lunchboxes that are never where you want them, full of nasty, mouldy surprises? Do you feel like you ask children to get ready for school 900 times every morning, and no matter what, you’re always late?
Having really clear routines for before and after school can be a life saver for busy busy parents.
What are your rules for getting ready in the morning? What are the rules for when you come home? There are lots of great books out there for organising kids, but the simplest thing to do is just have the same routine, in and out, without change. Kids do well with routine and it helps busy parents too. Have small rewards for using initiative and doing things without being asked. Over time those behaviours will become habits.
6. Ensure your child is getting enough sleep!
When kids are tired they are forgetful, emotional, scattered & slow moving. For parents who are busy, that’s a nightmare. If your children are not getting enough sleep, they will be driving you mad forgetting things and being fractious.
Look at bedtime routines and work out how long you really need for getting kids into bed as opposed to what you “think” is should be. Also look at wake times. Early morning sunlight has been proven to help the body regulate its melatonin production which in turn aids sleep. Are your kids missing their “sleep wave” by being up too long? Are they sleeping in too late? All of these things can play a part in creating chaos.
Another thing to think about – is your child better at doing homework early in the morning before school, than when they are tired after school?
My daughter survived high school by getting up at 5am every morning and completing two hours of study before school. She was in bed by 9pm every night or she was an absolute cranky pants. What works for your child? 8 – 10 hours sleep is recommended. Are they getting it?
7. Reduce the amount of extra activities they are doing
If your child is doing activities most days after school, I would respectfully suggest they are too busy. Pick one or two activities and focus on them. There’s a lot to be said for developing competence at something rather than just flicking from activity to activity every term or even year. It also means there is time to do homework and also have “down time” where kids can just unwind at home and so can busy parents.
And, if your child is starting Year 7 and feeling utterly overwhelmed with homework, there is absolutely nothing wrong with not doing any extra curricular activities for the first term, and just letting them settle into the organisational skills required to get homework done.