Homework is considered to be beneficial in helping children to learn how to manage time, planning and priorities, and to learn independently and take responsibility. These are all skills that will help them in the future in many ways. Homework also helps teachers to determine how well students are understanding their lessons. It is important as parents that we support our children in doing their homework. This keeps us in touch with what’s happening at school and how our children are managing, and will help children to achieve academically throughout their education. As part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, here are our 10 Ways to Manage Homework with Primary School Children.
- Homework belongs to the child not the parent. Teach your child from entry to school that they are responsible for homework being done. Your role is to support your child with homework, but not to do it.
- Create the necessary environment for your child to work in. They need a calm space with no TV or other distractions. Allow them time to relax when they come in from school and have a snack and change of clothes ready.
- Always demonstrate an interest in your child’s homework, support them, champion them and stand up for them. You know them best, so encourage and support yet know when it’s time to stop. Know your limits and theirs.
- Encourage your child if they feel it’s too hard. Acknowledge that it is hard but tell them you know they can do it. If you find yourself being negative with them, or saying something like, “Yes, you are no good at maths”, then it is advisable to look at your own issues with homework.
- Set a start and end time for homework. Sometimes you may feel your child has too much homework on a particular day. Let the teacher know it will be completed by the end of the week rather than pushing a very tired child to finish it that evening.
- The National Parents Council offers a guide to the amount of time each age group should spend on homework, stating that in general the following guidelines apply:
- Junior/Senior infants: No formal homework but perhaps some drawing, preliminary reading, matching shapes and pictures or listening to stories read by parents.
- First/Second class: 20-30 minutes.
- Third/Fourth class: 30-40 minutes.
- Fifth/Sixth class: 40-60 minutes.
- When you are tired and your child is tired, it’s usually time to stop. Your level of patience will be lower. Remember that your relationship with your child is more important than homework.
- Arguing late in the evening over homework leaves everyone unsettled and stressed which can lead to bedtime routines being disrupted.
- Talk with the school/your child’s teacher if you feel your child cannot get their homework done without your help. Children should be able to do their homework alone with parents nearby. Your role should involve encouragement, checking it’s done, and testing them on key things such as spelling.
- Sometimes children need time off too. Explore how many extra activities they have on and look at creating down time for them. Would you like to bring home work every day? A school day is long and it is important to acknowledge all the work they have already done that day. Try not to focus on the areas they’re less successful at as this will do nothing for self-esteem and achieve nothing. Appreciate that children have a lot on and need you to recognise the effort they are making in every task.
Next you might like to read 10 Ways to Make Reading a Part of Family Life.
This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly. Coming soon: 10 Ways to Achieve Successful Shared Parenting at Christmas and 10 Ways to Make Christmas Stress Free.
LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on homework on Monday 3 November from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook page. Join in and post your question.
Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email email@example.com.