With all the pressure of school work, puberty, social life and other commitments playing their part, it's understandable that your child might sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by their homework. There are many ways to help ease some of this by supporting and guiding them - they might not tell you they want help, but by showing your support your child will pick up on your positive attitude and this can help encourage them to do the same when it comes to their education.
The benefits of helping your child are endless. First and foremost you will find that you end up spending more quality time with them by listening and talking, and you will also be able to gauge a sense of what their strengths and weaknesses are.
How much homework should my child be getting?
The government has set the following guidelines for secondary school children:
- Years 7 and 8: 45 to 90 minutes per day
- Year 9: 1 to 2 hours per day
- Years 10 and 11: 1.5 to 2.5 hours per day
Top tips for secondary school homework
- Keep a designated homework area at home. Somewhere preferably where you have a flat surface, paper and pens readily available. Make sure any distractions are avoided e.g. turn off the television.
- Help keep a routine for your child when it comes to homework. You might find your child wants to complete their homework as soon as they come home from school or they might want to relax and then start working later in the evening. Let your child decide when they want to do their homework but try and keep a regular time.
- Praise and encourage your child to help boost their confidence. Try to pick up on how they have completed certain tasks for example, "I like the way you worked that out…" as opposed to "Well done".
- Ask your child to give you a bit of background on the homework and why they have been set the piece. This should open up discussion and help their enthusiasm.
- However tempting it may be, refrain from completing your child's homework for them. Homework is set to help teachers understand how much your child has understood about the subject and what they can complete independently.
- Stay calm. It might become frustrating if you are trying to teach your child something and they do not seem to be grasping the concept but remember losing your patience will knock their self-esteem and could also prevent them coming to you for help in the future.
- Allow yourself enough time to help your child with their homework. Constantly looking at the clock could discourage them and rushing to complete work against the clock will not result in your child’s best piece of work.
- Use the library. Staff at your local library will be able to help your child find the info he/she needs and develop their research skills. Many libraries offer free internet access for homework, and can advise on links to useful homework websites.
- Many schools offer after-school homework clubs. These are a great way of getting the homework out of the way and getting help and advice on the best way to tackle it.
- Encourage your child by offering a small reward that they can choose at the end of the week if all their set homework is done. It doesn't have to be money or sweets - maybe a favourite movie, or offering to play a game or do something with them that they always enjoy. Aim if possible for them to have at least one homework-free day a week.
- The amount of homework gradually increases as your child goes through primary school - but still the amount of homework set in high school (Year 7 onwards) can come as a shock. Help your child adapt by helping them plan their homework for the first few weeks using a homework diary (supplied by most schools).
- Don't get stressed out by homework - if you are, your child will be too. Remember to talk to the school if you feel your child has too much homework, or it's not clear, or is taking them too long. Asking for feedback on how they feel your child is doing is also helpful.