Homework has become a daily chore in our household. My eldest is now half way through year one, but in reception, the homework was manageable and other than the daily diary that we had to do throughout the May and summer holidays, I didn’t complain or find it too tedious. This year we didn’t have any set until the October half term and now the amount seems to slowly be increasing over the weeks. Along with reading at least 5 times a week, there is also a sizeable chunk of homework to achieve.
As we know it, it’s feeling more of a test of my parenting skills and memory right now. Especially when lately we’ve needed to do posters on space. So what tips and tricks have I learnt when it comes to accomplishing the reading and homework over the past year?
- Do it as close to the set date rather than the due date as you can. Homework gets set on a due for the following . I try to do it all (well I try to get my child to do it all) by the weekend as our weekends are usually busy and I hate a last minute rush. Plus then we can enjoy the weekend knowing it’s done and dusted.
- Break it down into bite size chunks. I try to break the homework up so that we may end up doing a little each day - (or as well if there is a lot) This way it becomes as part of a routine and takes less time each day as it doesn’t drag on.
- Build homework into your routine. Homework becomes much easier when it becomes a part of your daily routine. Set a time aside every day to sit down and get some done. Ours is usually done as/ before dinner is cooking. That way it comes as no surprise to the child that it’s time to knuckle down and get some work done and it also can’t be forgotten easily- it will become second nature.
- Reward it. As previously mentioned on my blog about reward charts, we tend to use a reward chart in our household. I find homework frustrating, so I can’t imagine how the kids find it so I like to give a sticker on their reward chart to help push their motivation when it comes to achieving.
- Set realistic reading goals. When my Son went up a reading stage, the books started to increase in size. We used to be able to get through one each evening, then the bigger books became a bit of a struggle. I would try and push my Son to finish it, but then I realised that this perhaps wasn't realistic and was just hindering him as by the end he would be so utterly fed up that he wasn't paying much attention or reading well and it was just then winding us both up. So now, whenever a bigger book is brought home or one with a load of text, we split it in half. I realise now that this will be reduced even further as the books get harder and increase in size again. I was forgetting the main aim, which is just to listen to him read for a few minutes each day, not racing to finish the books.
- Don't try to do it when they're too tired. Although I try to get some homework and reading done each and everyday during the week, when my Son is too tired, it becomes far too impossible to even try so its best to abandon ship and do more another day, or then squeeze a little onto the weekend.
- Don't try to do it when they're too hungry. Similar to my previous point, I can't expect a hangry little chap to do spellings and counting with me. I tried this once and it was just futile. He became so cross and nothing was accomplished. I usually let them have a snack when we get in then we can knuckle down.
- Don't stress over it. The worst thing to do is to stress and worry about it. You can only do your best and the same goes for your child. You will figure out a routine, a time and a way that suits you and your family when it comes to homework but try not to stress about it. If you ever feel overwhelmed by it too, or if your child is gettinge too upset then try and talk to a teacher about the goals or the work load? You'll find they are more understanding when they are kept in the loop rather than just turning up with nothing done and no explanation.
- Make it fun. When I used to stress over the homework, I would put such pressure on my Son, so now I make sure that homework is made fun. I either try to act a little silly with him whilst he does it, or when it is counting and maths, I try to use objects that he enjoys; like his lego or pokemon. When it is fun, it usually takes much less time and your child will have a smile on their face rather than you being met with frowns and whinges.
- Weekends (as much as possible) are off guards. I try to get all of the homework and reading done Monday- Friday so then we can have Saturday and Sunday off knowing everything is done and ready for the start of the next school week. Some weeks this isn't possible, especially when swimming after school on a Monday puts us behind, but at least if I try to do the majority, it leaves a mostly free weekend for them to just be a kid again.
- Praise them, even for the small achievements. My Son definitely excels in some areas more than others. So, the ones he struggled with (like maths) I make sure I really praise him, even when he hasn't managed the full task on hand. I think the praise just helps to lift their spirits and know that we are proud no matter what. It just takes the pressure off them and they know that we are rooting for them.
- Don't compare children. It is so easy to compare what your child is doing compared to what others are. The important thing to remember is that we, especially children, all grow and achieve things at different stages. They all get there in the end. But also, just like us as adults, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Not many excel in all areas. Just identify your child's strengths and acknowledge where they will need more help and understanding. It will help you to be more patient and understanding and they will enjoy the calmness of the homework rather than the pressure to achieve as much as their friends.
I definitely enjoy the weeks where no homework is set more than my Son does. Surprisingly too, when its the holidays he seems to get even more, which I find a bit unfair. So hopefully with following my tips and remaining positive and having a fun attitude with it, homework will continue to just fall into its dull place in our lives for the next several years.
How much homework does your child get? Do you have any tips to share? Pop a comment below, I would love to hear from you.