Charlene Naidoo offers some important tips to get homework done in a more focused and consistent manner
Some homework tips for parents
Keep homework time consistent
Keep homework time consistent, so that it becomes a routine. Your child will find it easier to focus when it becomes non-negotiable and part of the schedule. Getting him into the right frame of mind is just as important as doing the homework itself.
Bathroom break before homework is started
Make sure your child has been to the bathroom and is fully focused on the tasks ahead.
A healthy snack to boost energy levels
A healthy snack will boost his after-school energy levels and keep him going. Go for fruit smoothies, fishcakes, fruit kebabs, peanut butter sandwiches, boiled eggs, low fat yoghurt or crispbread with cheese.
Keep your child hydrated
Dehydration affects concentration, so give him a glass of water before homework time.
Supervise your child's reading in a fun environment
Reading makes up a lot of the homework load for younger kids. Why not do it at the park, on the jungle gym or in the garden? It feels more like fun and less like a schlep that confines them to the four walls.
Keep a stationery box just for homework
Keep a stationery box just for homework. This cuts down on all the wasted time and distraction of having to find pens, glue, scissors and so on.
Get your child to do the hard homework first
Help your child figure out what is “hard” homework and what is “easy” homework. Encourage him to do the hard work first. This will mean he will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges and easier material will go faster if fatigue begins to set in.
Praise your child
It’s important to praise children productively, to let them know they’re doing well and to motivate them. Be specific: “Well done, you’ve spelled 18 of 20 words correctly!”
Make homework a game
You can play this game: When you sit down to homework, first go over the child’s day at school and chat about the homework. Pretend that you have no clue what multiplication or division is and ask the child to “teach” it to you. He will enjoy it and it will instill confidence.
Let your child struggle through a problem
Most parents rush to their child’s rescue when he’s grappling with a challenging homework problem. Instead, leave him to struggle for a bit. He might well solve the problem and even if he does need your help eventually, he’ll probably learn something if he gives it a proper go.
Start projects earlier
If your child has a project to do on the weekend, start on the Friday when the information from the teacher will still be fresh in his mind. An early start also means that he can do the project in a number of sessions so that Sunday does not have to be spent cooped up working and you’ve got time to get supplies if necessary.
Instill a positive attitude
Instill in your child a positive attitude towards homework from an early age. If homework is done thoroughly on a daily basis right from the beginning, then later on in his school life this can help reduce study time for tests and exams as your child will find he’s already familiar with the work when studying.
Get your child to do his homework as soon as he gets home
Get your child to get into the habit of checking his homework before tossing the pencil down and running for the TV. Teach him to go over the work methodically before finishing up – it’s good practice for later in life, when careless mistakes cost marks in exams.
Study buddies are a good idea especially if your child’s friend is stronger in a subject than he is and vice versa. Lay down rules before the friend comes over so that they don’t spend the entire time chatting.
Get your child a study desk
Some kids like to lounge around on their beds while doing homework, but it’s not a good idea. Kids need to have a sturdy surface with plenty of light and a good chair to maintain their posture. On their bed they become sleepy and unfocussed.