Parent Roundtable: Making the Most of Homework
This roundtable is to help you to reach a position where:
- Homework is not a battle.
- You can use homework to help your children to learn how to learn.
- Homework becomes a way of helping your children to become confident, motivated, self-reliant, considerate and cooperative.
- You experience that when your children put in independent effort and see the rewards for themselves, it leads to increased pride in their work and in turn to increased confidence.
About Exeter Tuition Centre Homework:
- Most of the time your child will be given homework to reinforce what they’ve done in their session with us that day. Often they are asked to repeat the exact same task.
- We do this so that your child has nothing to fear from their homework and can be expected to work independently, which straight away gives them a chance to experience the buzz that comes from being able to do something completely on their own.
- This quickly leads to increased confidence and motivation, which will filter through to their school work and their self-esteem generally.
- Because school homework isn’t always perfectly tailored to your child, and may be too hard, you need to be careful about suddenly asking them to do all of their homework independently. This handout will help you to apply the methods that we use in the Centre to your child’s school homework.
A few thoughts about a less than perfect world:
- Teachers are bound by the curriculum, which usually means that not only what is taught but also when it is taught and how long it is taught for is pre-planned and cannot be changed in response to children’s needs.
- Pressures in school mean that teachers can’t realistically be expected to ‘train’ children in many of the various skills needed for school success, such as independence, resilience, and focus.
- Differentiation in the classroom is possible in theory, but more than ever it is limited by resources and time.
- Homework given by schools is rarely exactly right for every child – usually for completely unavoidable and practical reasons, for example behavioural problems within the classroom meaning that the teacher runs out of time in the lesson to teach everything that’s on the homework.
Reframing the problem:
- Each individual piece of homework is not in itself important (although you don’t necessarily want to admit that to your child!). What’s really important is the longer-term development of skills and habits.
- Homework is best thought of as an opportunity for your child to learn how to learn independently, and also as an opportunity for you to play an important role in the education of your child.
- You can use homework as a framework for teaching the skills your child will need to get the most out of their time at school.
- Set aside a specific time for homework six days a week all year round, with no distractions of any kind. Routine removes resistance, and prevents falling into habits like cramming or procrastinating.
- For younger children, you will need to be focused entirely on their needs during this homework time.
- Make sure you have one day off every week, ideally on the weekend.
- If no homework is due soon then get ahead on future homework; revise a topic; tackle a problem-topic; read aloud; practise previous spellings, multiplication tables, punctuation or handwriting.
- Go at the child’s pace and do not rush them.
- Find out from school how long homework should take and do not let your child spend longer on it.
Putting it into Practice:
- Spend up to five minutes discussing the homework that needs to be done. Ask them to explain what they need to do, how they do it, and why they do it that way. For example: How many pages do you need to read? Where do you put the carry number where you’re doing long addition? What will you do if you can’t spell a word? You ask the questions, your child tries to recall the information, and if they are unsure or need correcting you can do so before they start. This step includes asking questions about organising their work.
- Your child completes the homework without any help.
- Evaluate the work together. Do this by giving a diagnostic response, e.g. “10 would be the answer if you were adding”, and let the child work out their mistake on their own if possible. Allow plenty of time for this stage because this is where the real learning takes place.
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