“Mum, will you help me with my homework?”
If these words fill you with dread and have you cowering in the cupboard, you are not alone.
It may be because you know the homework will be difficult for you and your child. This doesn’t have to be the high level maths homework you dread. Actually some of the maths the 10 year olds are trying to battle with looks pretty much like gobbledygook to me!
It could be the homework your 6 year old brings home that has no context, relevance or instructions.
Or you anticipate the tears and howls (yours or your child’s). This could be because of the arguments about the homework that end up with a child in a tantrum and you completely stressed out.
After a long day at school your child is probably exhausted and doesn’t want to sit down and complete a homework task that bears no relation to anything he has learnt in school – if, of course, he has learnt anything in school!
Maybe you just don’t agree with homework for one reason or another. Oh my, this list could go on forever. Let me see if I can list some of the ‘anti-homework’ reasons.
- Children are too tired after a day at school
- Homework is because the teacher hasn’t had time to complete the learning unit
- The homework is never marked so what’s the point?
- Children have much better things to do when they come home from school
- The child’s ability isn’t taken into account and there is no differentiation
- There is too much homework
- There isn’t time or the inclination to do homework with your child at the end of the day
- Homework is unnecessary
Whatever the reason for your cupboard cowering the steps below should alleviate, or at least reduce the stress caused by homework.
Personally, I don’t believe that homework is necessary, especially in primary school; those children who are under 12 years old. I do see the point as children are working towards exams but, even so, if the learning in school is effective why do they need homework?
Don’t let homework get you down!
If a homework task is causing anxiety and stress for you and your child, stop. Have some quality time chatting about something other than school or homework. Actually, I think that conversations with your children are one of the best learning tools. As a teacher, you can tell those children who are encouraged to talk against those ‘seen but not heard’ children. There is a great divide between the two. Anyway, I’m wandering off topic, again.
It may be that after some calm time, you both can go back to the homework with a more positive attitude. If not, know that the quality conversation time is just as important and your child will have gained more than the completion of a worksheet could ever give him. If you can go back to it tomorrow, all well and good and if not, write a note to the teacher. At least she won’t have to mark it.
If possible, stick to a homework routine. Have a homework area and a homework time when you are available to lend a hand. Personally, homework areas in the bedroom aren’t a good idea. The temptation to fall asleep or play may become too much for your child – it would for me! If this is the only place available, try to make the homework area as appropriate as possible. Stationery, dictionary, thesaurus, pencil sharpeners, erasers etc should all be on hand.
Click on the links below to find these and other homework stations for children.White Study Desk
Pink Corner Workstation
If you know that you only have time to spend helping with homework on a Monday and Wednesday, then give children your undivided attention on those two days. If you are coming in from a full day at work and having to sit down and help complete a homework assignment, you will begin to feel resentful and stressed. Those two evenings when you are able to help will be much more beneficial to you and your child.
Remember, homework isn’t your child’s fault. If there is something about the homework with which you have a problem then talk to the school. If the homework is rarely marked, at the wrong level for your child, or whatever the issue, contact the school and let them know. If they have a homework policy, ask for a copy and make sure it is being adhered to. You probably aren’t the only parent who is having these problems, why not get the ball rolling.
Homework may be the only opportunity you have to understand your child’s learning. If you can look at it as something positive; something that you can both enjoy, it may become something to look forward to rather than to dread. This means changing a mindset but it may be worth giving it a try to see if it works.
Unhappy, stressed and anxious children do not learn. Couple this with unhappy, stressed and anxious parents can cause volatile situations. If you consider that homework is doing more harm than good, opt out. Let the school know the problems and spend some happy quality time with your child.
Homework should be for the good of the child; not the school, the teacher, the governors, the data or the government. If it isn’t benefitting the child, what’s the point?
I’d like to know your opinions on homework. Is it something you dread or do you look forward to working with your child?
Is your child’s school giving homework for the good of the child or do you believe there is an ulterior motive?