The vacation is over, the children are back at school, and it’s time to settle down to the business of learning. Often parents forget that even in the comfort of their own homes, children need a little encouragement and that it goes a long way toward helping a child to achieve. The homework schedule is part of the normal household routine, and although many parents banish their kids to their rooms in the mild hope that a child will study, children who have no schedule will soon stray away from fulfilling their obligations if parents don’t support them. It’s actually more fun than parents may realize and helps the parent to catch up on those lost hours of parenthood that they experience when a child is absent and at school.
Talking about their school day
One of the nice things about a family meal is talking to the kids about their day. Those parents who take the time often find their kids strong points, their likes and dislikes and are able to handle areas of the child’s study which is hard for them, because they are more aware of the hardship. This is where a surprise can be given from the parent to child to help them, and also to set aside sufficient time so that parent and child can both be responsible and available for that homework study. The child who is shut away and has no one to help them grasp concepts they find hard will inevitably lose interest. Those who are given the opportunity to explore their homework with their parents may find it more fun and a sharing experience which enriches their relationship.
Make a chart
A large piece of card split into the days of the week can be made in a fun way. Talk to the child about how much homework they expect on each given night. If parents use the excuse that this helps them to organize their play time with their friends, this encourages them even more to get the planning done. Get some stars and stickers to use on the chart so you and the child can keep an eye on fitting in homework with out of school activities.
All work and no play makes a child dull
If you give the child a set amount of work every night and at weekends that leaves no time for childhood, they will rebel, and who can blame them? At a time in their lives when other priorities may seem more important, balancing fun and work really is a necessity for parents. Show the reward on the chart, specifying small goals with homework, rewarded with activities that the child really does look forward to. Let them see the positive nature of working and doing their homework and keep to the schedule which is planned. If they see that they can play you for more play time, they will. However, if they see that you mean business and that you are every bit as able to make yourself available to help them, they can’t grumble too much.
Things to include in the schedule
The schedule is important. The homework should be done in a place where there is minimal interruption. If you can set aside a separate place for a child to study in peace, they won’t be tempted to do other things. Tell them that this is their study space and keep the area clear of television noise, computers – other than those used for research, and other kids. If this means putting children in separate rooms to study, then this helps them to do that work quickly.
Going through the daily routine
To know what kind of expectations the school have of the child, look at their school timetable. The timetable tells you which classes are being studied each day. Make a mark on the schedule of all the subjects covered in a set day which may produce homework. When the children come home, a simple glance at the schedule will tell you whether they should be studying. Remember that they won’t always have homework, but do ask them each day so that you have an idea of the obligations they have.
What kids are particularly bad at is timing. Supposing a child is given homework on a Monday and is expected to produce the work by Thursday. Many of the kids left to their own devices will leave the work until Wednesday night. Instead of encouraging a child to cram at the last minute, teach them time management. Mark an arrow on the schedule showing that the work should be finished before Wednesday, so they are always in advance. This helps the child to learn from an early age that last minute cramming leads to stress and really isn’t needed to get good results.
The night before work needs handing in
The arrow on the chart should show the day before the homework needs to be given back to the teacher. If the parent and child are both able to see these dates clearly, the child has a chance to read through what they did and make sure they are happy with the work. They can ask the parent to take a look as well, meaning that they get the chance to produce good quality work because they not only did it but checked it before handing it in.
Encouragement and reward
When a child keeps to the timetable set, reward them. Show them how proud you are as a parent and let them choose a free period of time over the weekend to have fun with the family. Encourage them to choose the venue or what you will all do together. Children need to see positive results from their labor, rather than merely parental nods. They need to see that their parents care about them and want them to succeed, sharing triumphs rather than criticizing them for any difficulties they encounter. By being open and giving the child reward for achievement, parents find that the child not only wants to succeed but that they will be proud of what they have done.
Help with research
When a child needs help with research, give them ideas, but don’t do the work for them. Armed with ideas, a child if often able to see the problems clearer. On the schedule that you draw out for the child, allow time for parent/child consultation on difficult homework, so both of you can get together and talk about those subjects the child is finding hard.
A child who is encouraged instead of chided will work harder. Their will to achieve will give them a great sense of self confidence, but only if a parent is available to help them over the many stumbling blocks of learning. It’s like juggling the senses sometimes trying to balance learning new vocabulary, math, science, languages, etc., but the schedule takes one element of doubt out of the picture, in that the child gets an ordered routine they understand, and a solid framework for their homework which they can adhere to. The mind of a child is always open to learning things they perceive as having purpose and meaning, and a parent who goes through all the processes of providing a homework schedule which is positive will get good results.