Homework strikes fear and dread into the hearts of many parents. It means spending hours chained to a desk, trying to remember what you know about dark matter and energy while pleading with kids to stay focused for just another hour, right?
Helping with homework takes a range of forms, from working with your kids to set a routine, to offering fun snack incentives, and even just talking through different ways to approach a difficult problem.
At Cluey, we’ve worked with more than two thousand families since our inception in 2018 and we’ve learned that there’s no one way to help. All kids are different — they find different topics challenging, they respond to different examples and explanations. What creates a positive outcome for one child feels like an academic nightmare for another.
Here’s what we’ve learned about unlocking each child’s potential.
1. Establish a routine
Having a set time and place to complete homework, such as the dining room table at 4pm or the study after dinner, ensures it gets done and reduces frustration. A routine also establishes normalcy, teaches time management, and makes both of you accountable for sitting down together each day. Choose a space that’s free of distractions, including electronic devices or family conversations. It’s also important to make time for breaks and take into account your child’s natural cycles (which might be different from your own) to create and maintain momentum.
2. Make learning an activity your child loves
There will always be pain points when it comes to homework and school study. Even if your child is a VORACIOUS reader, they might recoil at the mention of geography or trigonometry. However there are ways to make learning, even the stuff they will never truly love, fun for both of you. Today’s children are digital natives so find the applications and websites that embrace an online, interactive approach to education.
3. Talk to your child about their challenges
It’s important to identify real or imagined learning challenges and address them. Stay positive about overcoming problems and keep things in perspective — difficulties aren’t insurmountable and failure is often a springboard for learning. Have a conversation about what your child is struggling with and use it to guide your approach to teaching at home.
4. Let your kids complete their own work
Sounds super easy, right? But holding back when you know you’re right, or over-explaining something to the point of answering, means that kids will never learn to think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Offer suggestions, give guidance and build confidence, but at the end of the day it’s your child’s job to think and answer and solve.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Becoming a parent means that we wear several hats (here’s looking at you, you beautiful hairdresser-psychologist-oven technician), but ‘trigonometry expert’ doesn’t have to be one of them. If you don’t excel when it comes to certain subject matter, there are plenty of people out there who do. Finding an expert on certain topics means that your child gets the best advice and instruction, and you don’t lose your mind analysing Shakespeare’s sonnets late into the night.