As parents we want to take an active interest in our child’s homework or study, but this should not mean that child and parent will be glued to the kitchen table as this will not be beneficial to either party. So here are some tips which can be helpful for everyone to promote good study times at home.
- Get to know your child’s teachers. It seems obvious, and perhaps easier said than done when parents may work late and collect their children from after-school groups. Regular communication with your child’s teacher and discussions at parent’s evenings will help you get to know what the teachers are expecting and how they want their pupils to practise what they have been learning in class. Your school’s website should also have homework policies that parents can download.
- Set up a study area. A desk in the bedroom may not be the best arrangement for younger children and space can be limited and cluttered. As far as it is possible, try to arrange a space at a table which is clear and with a good level of lighting. Making a ‘study space’ for an hour can help your child get into ‘study mode’. If ‘study time’ can be at a regular time each day developing a routine can also help your child focus.
- Rest, relax and re-charge. Depending on their age, some children may need to run off some energy after school, older children and teens may just need to have a snack and crash to unwind. Remember they have been paying attention all day, listening and taking in lots of information. Blood sugar levels can also be lower at certain times too.
- Planning really helps. Schools have planners and though some children do not use them, they can help all children, particularly those who tend to forget! Work with your child to write the date each homework is due in, not only on the day they get the homework, but on the date it is actually due to be handed in. Colour code subjects to make a visual distinction in the planner.
- Small steps. Show your child how to break a large assignment or project into manageable chunks. Allocate time to each task over one or more evenings before it is due to be handed in. This can help your child see the progress they make and it reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed, particularly with multiple subjects as they move through senior school.
- Self organisation. Help your child find a way to organise and track their tasks and what they have accomplished. This could involve daily or weekly checklists covering the study tasks for instance.
- Attention and concentration. There is a tendency to feel that study has to been done in long stretches. In fact attention and concentration on a topic is on average around twenty to thirty minutes for older children. For younger children and those who have concentration and attention issues, this is much less.
- Reduce distractions. Loud television, radio or music can be distracting as can stopping to look at social media and text alerts which can interrupt concentration. Some people do listen to music through personal headphones and are able to study. There is no hard-and-fast rule.
- Don’t insist on ‘perfection’. It can be very tempting to complete homework or ‘make it look perfect’ at times. What the teacher really needs to know is what the child can do and knows. By all means encourage, ask questions to see if your child has difficulty understanding something, and help them to find out answers through using reference materials where possible. Also, see number 1 in this list and keep open communication with teachers.
- Praise work and effort. Everyone needs feedback and to know that they are doing well. Rewarding and praising effort is just as important to help build self-esteem.
If you have any tips that you have found work well, then we would love to hear them. Why not post them in the comments section?