Now in my 37 and a bit years on this planet there are some things that I can remember clear as day. But for the love of me I can’t remember my parents ever trying to help me with my homework. Now I know that ‘times have changed’ and my generation’s childhood is stratospheres away from my kids. But I’m still confounded by Dyl’s prep. I mean, sure personally, I think school was harder ‘back in the day’ however I sure as hell don’t remember getting anywhere near as much work as he does at his age. The national guidelines suggest that in year 3-4 they should be doing 1.5 hours a week, however my experience is that with various projects, posters and reading this is greatly underestimated.
I’ve been thinking about doing this sort of thing for a while, and to be honest, it’s as much for me as it is to help you guys so here’s my guide to helping kids with their homework.
Stage One: Preparation
You don’t come home and immediately start working again, do you? No, because such high intensity of working makes concentrating difficult and shoots your motivation dead. So don’t expect your kid to be able to get home from school and then right off the bat start their homework. Give ‘em a break; it can be 30mins or an hour, really it depends on your child. I know that my kids come home ravenous so I give ‘em a snack (I try and keep it healthy!) then we go into the garden and we run about with the dog. After that depending on how zonked we are, it’s time to get down to work. There are plenty of other things you can do with your kids to chill out before starting the dreaded H-word, including: arts and crafts, watching a cartoon or a YouTube video (or four), reading, games, paint their nails, let ‘em paint yours, learn how to plait, take the dogs for a leak, a bike ride or bake some cookies. (Baking is an incentive and a treat for once they’ve finished their homework.) On to the next…
Stage Two: Act!
Getting your kids down to do their work can be incredibly frustrating (I know). Or it can be easy, it depends, each child is an individual. However what is important for ALL kids is that they need boundaries and guidelines, so once you’ve decided that they’re going to start their homework you need to stick with it. No wobbling for “Just one more Daddy” and irresistible puppy eyes. Once you’ve initiated take off, you need to get all their shit ready, sit down together and lift off.
Step Three: Sit Tight… That Includes You!
Getting Dylan to sit down and do his homework isn’t the challenge, it’s getting him to stay and finish one piece before leaping to the next. I did some research and these four methods are what I tried. Afterwards I found out that our boy definitely works harder if Eve or I am there to sit with him, working on something else.
Whenever possible you should sit with your child whilst they are doing their task(s), but you should not be just sitting there doing jack all. You need to work on something else, something a bit challenging but also enjoyable. Some things you could be doing include: finishing up any work you have to do anyways (includes your emails, expenses, invoices and taxes – it’s gotta be done). Or learn a language: I’ve recently been learning some Spanish because after my O-Levels I’d forgotten it all, so learn vocab and phrases as a language is always going to be useful. Others include reading (and I DON’T mean trashy airport novels), learn to sign, learn to write calligraphy, try to make your own home on SketchUp, learn to write code, take an online course on Colonialism. Anything and everything that will help you in whatever way. Doing meaningless puzzles doesn’t help you or your child.
Seeing you learning will help them learn, making it a group activity so that your child doesn’t feel like they’re the only one working. Forget the old maxim – do as I say not as I do – teach by example and show your kids what needs to be done.
Step Four: HELP! I neeed someboody! HELP! Not just anyyboody, HELP y’know I need you Dad!
I’m a Beatles fan which you can probably tell from the thinly veiled reference in my URL; however my favourite song is particularly relevant here. H-E-L-P. Everyone needs it, no use in denying it, and our kids; well they need it more than anyone. Being available to help your kid whilst they’re working is invaluable. But you can’t just be there you have make it clear at the beginning of your group study session saying something like: “If you need me I’ll be right here” or “Shout if you need some help sweetie”.
Then when they do ask for help give them all your attention. Sometimes it’ll be simple, other times you won’t know the answer and it is ALWAYS better to fess up and then look it up. On other occasions you’ll just need to help stick in pictures. But other times you’ll want to help your kid find it out themselves, whether it’s grabbing the encyclopaedia, helping ‘em use the index of their text book or teaching them how to search online.
All simple things but definitely needed because as parents we HAVE to help our kids develop and grow we NEED to nurture a enthusiasm for learning and help them become more independent within their study.
As I said these are what have worked for me but let me know what you find works.
- National guidelines = national guidelines for hours of work per week/day based on year group
- Baking = list of healthy recipes including granola bars made with oats and berries for slow burning energy.
- Language = post I’ve written about how I think everyone should learn a language.
- SketchUp = software used to design houses
- Four different methods = article that gives different methods of how to help kids with their homework