photo courtesy of Depositphotos and Attuned Education
Parents of school aged children or teenagers often tell me that getting them to do homework can be a hassle. Some educational professionals feel the amount of homework being set is unreasonable though I don't think anyone seriously thinks it will change radically anytime soon.
In the UK in 2012, official homework guidelines were scrapped allowing head teachers greater freedom in determining their homework policy. But from my experience, working with a number of schools, most still set homework and many rely on previous government guidance as a framework - so it might be useful to see how it compares with what your child is given.
Homework is a feature of parenthood so here are some tips to make sure it doesn't become too much of a hassle.
If children see, from when they are quite young, that homework and education are something that you value, they will be much more likely to see it as important themselves. You can do this in a number of ways: making time for it, being prepared to turn off the television, giving your time to support them with it and making sure you have the necessary equipment such as pens, paper or crayons will all help them realise that homework is something that you see as important. If young children see this in regard to older siblings, that message is likely to get through to them too. Of course for many busy parents I also understand that homework can be yet another thing to have to fit in, but if children see regularly that you view it as a problem they will quickly adopt the same attitude - so even if it needs some juggling of other activities, make sure it is given priority.
Make it non negotiable
However defiant or difficult your child might be, there are some things that every parent decides they simply won't negotiate on. Make homework one of those things. Children are usually quick to pick up the message that some things just need to be done. You can negotiate on when and where and how long they may spend on it but ensuring that it gets done has to be something that isn't negotiable. Establishing a regular time and place for homework can also be useful.
Find the fun
I understand that some people find the concept that simultaneous equations or algebra can be fun a strange one. Yet we would probably all admit that learning is fun - it may be a challenge sometimes but we all want our children to learn. Lots of homework tasks, especially at primary are fun, and even if the task itself is tedious, most people will find some fun in the sense of satisfaction they have when they have completed something.
Create a few incentives
As parents we'd like children to want to do their homework, but that won't always be the case. We are all influenced by incentives. It doesn't have to be a big reward but a small treat when they've got it finished, either something edible, a favourite drink or maybe time doing something you know they love may help to get it done without too much hassle. For older children perhaps the treat can come after a few evenings when they have done homework without any fuss.
Obviously being involved in your child's homework and school life is one of the ways you can show that you value education. But it also makes the job of getting your children to tackle homework a lot easier. Make sure you know what days they usually get homework and ask them directly about it - that makes it much harder for them to respond with a shrug or say that they can't remember. Most schools will put information about homework on their website but it is also good to chat to your child's teacher about it so you have the same expectations.
Don't do it for Them
Homework is set for a number of different reasons, sometimes to give extra practice, or to revise things already learned, or maybe research around a topic. Make sure your child knows what they have to do, and give general guidance but try not to take over. If it seems too hard for them then help BUT make sure you talk to the teacher as homework should be something children can do fairly independently.
Homework is probably here to stay, so making sure it doesn't cause arguments and conflict is going to be good for everyone.