The commencement of the first school term of the year is fast approaching and amidst all the preparations –school uniform and stationery shopping, settling of tuition fees, hair grooming…both child and parent are subconsciously psyching up to resume the H-word routine: HOMEWORK! This ‘necessary evil’ is one that children and parents would sooner have completely erased from their daily routine (and if you are a parent with a school going child you will know why!) But maybe…just maybe…getting a buy-in on the matter and discovering ways of maximizing this routine might make all the difference for you and your child?
Why is homework even necessary to begin with?
- For the Child:
- Homework is an effective way for a child to cement and assimilate concepts introduced at school. There are some disciplines, such as reading and the learning of bonds, which can only be improved and grasped by regular practice. Home work provides this opportunity to practice and assimilate what has already been learnt. This, in turn, establishes a robust foundation for further academic development.
- Time management, a necessary life-skill, is another reason why homework is important for your child. It is needful for a child to become disciplined into knowing that there is a time to play or watch TV, a time to do homework, a time to bath…and to know the consequences of not doing what they were meant to do in the time given. Planning and organisational skills are also developed as they incorporate homework into their daily routine.
- The opportunity to work independently is another attribute to homework. While a child may at times need assistance, it is important for them to learn to work on their own without input from a teacher or parent. This helps a teacher or parent to better identify their areas of strength and weakness. It also helps a child develop confidence in and ownership of their academic development.
- Homework gives a child an opportunity to ask a parent questions on work they may not have understood in class. Some children are too shy (or embarrassed) to expose their ignorance in class, or even to a teacher, but they are likely to feel safer with a parent. A parent, in such a scenario, will often identify needy areas before a teacher does.
- For the Parent:
- Homework enables you to keep track of your child’s academic development. This role cannot be relegated to the teacher alone because a teacher may at times not realize the areas needing further attention in your child’s learning. And even when they do know, they may have too many children to attend to, to give your child the individual attention required. This is why it is important for you to keep your own tabs on how your child is progressing academically. Reports and assessment cards are helpful for providing an indication but they often do not encompass where your child really is at. Even if a parent may not always know how to help a child where they are struggling, if they are aware of the areas they can bring them to the teacher’s attention and/or take necessary steps for a child to get help (i.e. extra lessons).
- Homework is an opportunity for you to furnish your child with other angles from which they can tackle a problem. A child may not always easily grasp a method taught in class but if you are aware of another they may find it easier to grasp. Whilst you want to avoid confusing your child (by introducing methods different to what their taught in class) knowing other ways of tackling a problem will only benefit them
- For the teacher:
- Homework helps a teacher to determine the areas where a child is struggling and where they have grasped concepts well. One thing I have found helpful for my daughter’s teacher, is ensuring that whatever mistakes my daughter makes in her homework are clear to her. This is done by crossing out mistakes with a pencil, rather than rubbing them out with an eraser. The teacher therefore has a better indication of what a child needs to work on
7 Tips to on how to maximize on the Homework-Experience
- Establish a routine; a set time and a set place for doing homework. Children are creatures of routine and even when they may not particularly favour a certain activity, they adapt to it once there is consistency. When a routine is set in place –when they know that at a certain time and a certain place they have to do their homework –you (or your helper) may no longer need to constantly chase them into getting their homework done.
- It is helpful for a child to have a short period (about 30 mins) to snack and unwind before starting homework. Even if they have just come from doing an extra mural activity or sport, a refresher is helpful before the plunging into homework. This break should however not include activities like watching TV or video gaming, as they can totally disengage a child from the homework mood.
- Help your child understand the buy-in of doing homework. If the benefits of what they are doing at home becomes apparent to them when they are learning at school (like developing a greater ease for learning) they will be more willing to put in the time.
- If you are not in a position to monitor your child’s homework regularly, put the necessary support measures in place. You can enroll them into aftercare homework class, engage the services of an au pair, or even train your helper to step in. What you want is for the discipline to be instilled. It is still however needful for you to check and assess your child’s work, even with support structures in place, so as to be personally aware of where your child is at.
- If time is a deterrent for you, multi-task with homework activities where your involvement is required. Your child can read, practice bonds and timetables, recite their piece for show and tell…while you drive, cook, iron or wash dishes.
- Ensure that your child has time to play and relax after homework is done. That alone is incentive for a child to willingly engage in the task at hand. All work and no play make Jack a very miserable child!
- As much as you can and as early as you can, encourage an independent approach to homework in your child. Let them take full responsibility and ownership. Nurture within them a pride for doing their work properly and completely. This quality will be a tremendous asset to them as they advance in their schooling years –and in LIFE.