Homework: how can I help?
If your you have chosen for your child to attend school for their education, the chances are that at some point you will be hit by weekly and then daily doses of homework. Whether it's Key Stages or GCSEs, you may need a little help working out when it's best for you to help and when it's best to leave them to it...
WHEN SHOULD I HELP?
It's important to help, but you can overdo it. In their younger years, schools want parents to work with children on their homework – answering their questions, explaining, but not actually doing it for them.
As they get older, they need to be more independent - but it helps if you know what they’re doing.
And remember, they need to feel that they can call on you for help.
You have huge power to build their confidence - a key element in learning.
Specific praise focusing on particular aspects of homework can be more effective than general praise. Comments like, "I like the way you have done this..." often work better than "Such a clever little sausage!"
THE EARLY YEARS
When your child starts getting homework will depend on the particular policy of the school. It is important to know that homework is not a requirement in primary years education, so if they cannot do it all, they do not have to. Of course, supporting your child’s learning at home, is beneficial.
In the first couple of years, the most important thing is to read with your child for 20 minutes a day. This will boost their reading and promote an appreciation of books. Before they are able to read, you can read to them and get them involved in talking to you about the story, once they are learning to read, you can help them practice sounding out words and starting to put short sentences together.
HOW MUCH HOMEWORK SHOULD MY CHILD EXPECT?
Homework is not compulsory for primary age children, although doing some supportive work at home is beneficial. As guidance, the government suggests the following amount of homework per year group:
- Years one and two: one hour per week
- Years three and four: one and a half hours per week
- Years five and six: 30 minutes per day
- Years seven and eight: 45 to 90 minutes per day
- Year nine: one to two hours per day
- Years 10 and 11: one and a half to two and a half hours per day
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO HELP?
Support your child to find the best time and place to get their homework done each week. For more ideas check out Handling Homework
If you don’t understand the homework then speak to your child's teacher, you don’t have to wait for a parents evening, they will be happy to meet you informally or chat on the phone.
Often schools will also run information evenings which give parents the basics in how they teach numeracy and literacy to the children. A lot of the teaching techniques have changed a lot in the last few years, so if you teach your child how you remember being taught, you could confuse them – so get up to date with how the school is teaching these techniques now, so you can be consistent and support them.
To support your child to keep learning informally, there is lots you can do which isn’t even structured homework, and your children will just think they are having fun rather than working! These include:
- keep reading with them even up until their teen years
- encourage younger children to observe surroundings – street signs, advertisements, nature, buildings
- use your local library
- visit museums, and even art galleries
- play board games with them as an alternative to television
- help them to do research on the computer... as soon enough, they'll will be helping you!
For more ideas of how to support your child through their homework and education, check out: