For some children, the best time to get homework done will be soon after they get home from school. Others might like a break to play and unwind before starting on homework.
Young children can concentrate for only about 15 minutes at a time before they need a brief break. Even older children need breaks. When it’s break time, you can encourage your child to do some neck stretches, arm shakes and finger wriggles or play outside for a few minutes.
You might be able to motivate your child to do homework by setting a time limit and encouraging your child to do the things they enjoy, like watching TV or playing outside, when they’re finished.
No matter when your child does homework, it’s useful to have a regular time for homework each week. And it’s great if this can be when you’re around to support and encourage your child.
Whenever and wherever your child does homework, try to minimise distractions by turning off the TV and asking younger siblings to play somewhere else. One idea is to make homework time a quiet time for your whole family to read or do other quiet activities.
- plenty of light
- good-quality air
- space to spread out with books, pens and other resources.
Younger children are more likely to work better in family areas like the kitchen table, where you can supervise and help more easily. Older children will most likely need their own quiet space.
Children often have trouble getting started on projects or coming up with ideas. You might be able to get things off to a good start by helping your child break projects into smaller parts or map out steps. Your child might then plan to do one task each night. If your child has several different assignments in one week, help them plan what to do each night.
Older children might benefit from a homework planner or planning app so they can see when assignments are due and get themselves organised with a plan and study reminders. They might find it helpful to mark their plans on a wall calendar too.
Schoolwork isn’t always easy. Your job is to help your child develop a positive approach to academic and organisational challenges.
If your child avoids challenges, encourage them to sort tasks into those they find easy and those they find difficult. Your child might prefer to do ‘easier’ tasks first to build confidence before tackling the more difficult tasks. Or your child might want to do the most challenging tasks first, before they’re too tired.
If your child is struggling with an assignment, you could help them approach the problem positively by getting them to pinpoint what they’re finding difficult. From there, you can brainstorm some solutions together, weighing up the pros and cons of the different options to find the best one. You can also help your child identify people or resources that could help them further.
It can help to think of yourself as your child’s coach. You can support your child by creating the right time, environment and approach for homework, but doing the work is ultimately your child’s responsibility. If you do the homework for your child, your child won’t develop important academic skills. They also won’t learn how to handle challenges like lack of time, conflicting priorities or tasks they don’t understand.
When your child has homework troubles, try talking with them about what they could do better next time. Always praise your child for trying and doing their best, especially on tasks they find hard. It’s OK if your child doesn’t finish things perfectly or even ‘fails’ sometimes. The attitude you both have to challenges and failures is what really matters.