How to support children to get homework done

It’s the issue that can divide households on a daily basis…. Homework. Children, often trying their darndest to avoid the dreaded task, and parents, trying their darndest to get children onto it straight away. When really, all both parties want to do at the end of a long hard day is relax in front of the TV with a treat.

While some children relish homework, others find it about as appealing as watching paint dry. We can all end up in despair wishing the homework would miraculously disappear. 

Regardless of our views on the subject, homework is a part of school life, and many of our children come home each day with new tasks to complete. As they get older, those tasks seem to grow. It’s important to help them start on the right foot, so that they can approach homework with confidence and ease. 

How can we help our children get on top of homework with minimal fuss?

Help them set a plan

Having a plan of attack often helps get homework done a bit quicker. As they get older, there will be more homework tasks to complete, coupled with assignments and exams to study for. It’s a great idea to get your child into the habit of scheduling in work early on, so that it’s not such a big deal as the workload increases. 

A nice big calendar on the wall, coupled with coloured pens and bright stickers can help create a fun schedule, where kids can put in homework tasks, alongside play time, sports, family time and other activities. It can also help put homework into perspective, by seeing that it’s just a small part of their day.

Work through homework in chunks 

Often children will have a number of homework tasks, or a single task with a few activities involved. It can be hard to get started when you feel like you’ve got a mountain of work in front of you!

If you have a homework sheet, get a highlighter and underline key words. Then cover the rest of the sheet with a blank piece of paper and have children read through the first task. Once they complete that task, have them cover it up and move to the next one. Sometimes just physically removing all those words on the page can help alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed and help kids to get their homework done. 
mother and daughter doing homework

Try to mix it up

Try to start with different tasks each day, or work through things in a different order so that it’s new and interesting for kids. If they come to see homework as the same ‘boring’ routine each day, it will be about as easy to get done as painting an ant’s toenails (which any child who has done their homework will tell you they don’t have any toenails. Case in point).

Make it novel where you can

It could be using an online ‘bomb’ timer (from online stopwatch- my kids love it!), or having a mini ‘dance party’ with your child’s favourite song at the end of each homework task, or getting them to sing the homework task to you. Anything to make it a bit more engaging and fun. 

Give them a chance to refuel

Sometimes it can seem appealing to just get our kids straight in the door and straight at the table to do their homework. Just get it out of the way so that everyone can unwind and enjoy the afternoon. 

But doing tasks when our reserves are low can leave us even more unproductive. So having a decent break, with afternoon tea, a chat about the day and even a bit of a run around in the backyard, can build up children’s energy and readiness to consolidate they day’s work with their homework tasks. 

Give distractions the boot

Homework can be tough, when you throw in chatter, TV, games, food all over the place it can be downright impossible! 

Help your child find a good space for homework, remove as many distractions as possible, and try to encourage your child to make their homework space inviting- so clean table, pens and pencils at the ready, comfy chair to sit in- the whole shebang.

Talk to them about the bigger picture

Whether we think homework is useful or not, it teaches our children some important life lessons. 
Things like persistence, determination, giving things a go, focusing on effort as opposed to the end result. Sometimes in life we’re going to face tasks we may not really love, or even want to do, but ultimately we know they can help us grow. Homework is no different. When our kids can see the why, the how follows along after it. 

If homework is just becoming too much of a struggle in your household, it is important to discuss with your child’s teacher. There may be other factors at play that could be causing your child undue frustrations around homework, and there may be assessments that could be utilised to delve further into the issue. 
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