Taking the horror out of homework
Monday everyone is too tired, Tuesday you have something on after school, Wednesday it’s all forgotten, Thursday is almost Friday, and now half the weekend will be taken up with fighting through a mountain of homework three quarters of which the information has been forgotten.
Firstly, don’t panic, with a few tweaks you can make sure that your child can keep on top of things.
Do they need homework?
There’s substantial evidence that homework, in secondary school, leads to greater academic achievement. The amount of time secondary school children spend on homework varies hugely around the world, depending on the pressures and expectations of each country.
In the UK our 15-year olds spend on average 4 and a half hours on homework, whilst in China, an average student spends almost 14 hours a week on homework. In the UK some students spend twice as long, with many reporting at least an hour a day throughout the week.
Homework is set for many reasons. Often teachers want students to do the reading about an upcoming topic, preferring to spend the class time working on practical examples when students are more likely to need teacher support. Practise does make perfect, or at least a lot closer, so homework is an opportunity to refine and cement their skills, and lastly, often students don’t complete their work in lesson time. Rather than putting them at a disadvantage by moving on to another topic before they’ve had the chance to complete the work, most teachers will ask them to complete the work at home, giving them the extra time they need.
Let them teach you
Ask them what they did that day and have a chat about the topics they went through. Try and get them to explain to you what they did, what they understood and what they didn’t understand. Even if you’ve never heard about the topic before you can listen and try and work through it together.
Give them a set time to get things done without distraction. CGP has some great study tips and sample timetables here.
This time should be as important as school, it’s not time that can be eaten by TV or games, but should be just for revising what they did that day and doing their homework.
Some students work hard in lessons and during homework time, others are a little less dedicated and may waste time. But it’s still important that all their homework is completed. Set aside homework time and a golden time session of an hour or two on either Friday or Saturday. This is time to finish everything that wasn’t completed during the week or treat time. If they need to use the time to complete work that’s what it’s there for. If they complete everything to the right standard in their normal study time, this can be used for watching a movie as a family, or a trip somewhere nice. It’s important than rather being a punishment for not completing the homework normally, that it’s a reward for completing everything.
It’s also a great way to encourage students that might be perfectionists to draw a line under the work and move on.
Yes, there is nothing better than getting home from work and putting your feet up. But homework is shown to improve student outcomes. Your children are looking to you for the way to approach homework. So, whip up that enthusiasm.
I wanted more advice on my prelim/exam and wanted to check I was answering questions properly. I really, really enjoyed it and learned a lot in such a short period of time. I’m very glad I went.
Nicola – Higher Biology – Prelim Revision 2018
Ask for help
Yes, this sounds like a plug for tutors, but we know how hard it is to help a struggling student, and for you as a struggling parent. Identify which subjects they’re struggling with and book a tutor once a week, or book onto one of our revision courses Not to help with the homework, but the help them understand the topics the homework is about. Most students report not doing homework because they didn’t understand the topic. Let’s not handicap them further when they’re already struggling to complete an important part of their education.