As the school year progresses, your child’s homework is likely to get more challenging and take up more of their time. If your child is well organised and doesn’t find the work too much of a struggle, the increasing difficulty may not worry them. However, some children may start to find homework overwhelming when it becomes too difficult or too time consuming.
Homework usually complements what the children have been learning at school, so as long as they have understood what they have been taught, the homework should normally be within their capabilities. Occasionally, homework will be set in preparation for a new topic, or they may be asked to try and answer questions they are unsure about. While this might worry your child, you can help by reassuring them that the teacher will only be expecting them to try their best.
It’s a good idea to tackle homework as soon as it is set, rather than leaving it until the last minute. Your child may need some time to unwind after school, perhaps with a play at the park on the way home and a snack before they start their homework. But it’s unlikely they’ll want to get on with their work after an hour in front of the TV, so it’s probably best to save screen time for afterwards.
Setting up a homework timetable with your child is a good way of teaching them important time management skills and will allow them to see exactly how much work they have and how much time they should ideally be spending on it. A large project can be broken up into smaller sections to make it more manageable and less daunting.
Young children, in particular, will need plenty of breaks to let off some steam, stretch their legs and give their mind a rest. Playing in the garden or putting some music on and dancing around the living room for ten minutes will help to reduce stress if they are becoming overwhelmed with homework. Count on the clock together to let your child know exactly what time the break will finish, so there is no complaining they’d like ‘just five more minutes’. One of the worst things to do is put off homework until just before bedtime, when they get overtired and are unable to concentrate properly, as this will just make the homework task seem even more difficult. In addition to regular breaks, try and aim for one evening a week (perhaps midweek or at the weekend) with no homework and plan a family games night or something else your child would enjoy.
The most important thing to remember is that homework should be seen as a positive thing, to reinforce what your child has learnt in class and to help them have a better understanding of the work. While it is important to make an effort to get the answers right, it’s not the end of the world if they are wrong – at least this will give the teacher an idea of the areas your child may need more help with. However, if your child is constantly struggling with the level or amount of homework they are given, arrange a meeting with their teacher so you can work together to find a solution.