Helping with homework

Homework is an important part of your child's education and as a parent you can take steps to help them to get the most from it.

Managing homework can be a source of tension. Three parents share the tips that helped them.

Turn off the TV during homework

“The best thing I've ever done is ban all screen time on the TV and computer from Monday to Thursday,” says Patricia, 39, mum to two boys aged 8 and 12.

"Before I did this, my younger son would always be creeping off to watch cartoons. Now that's not an option, it's much easier to get homework done. Interestingly, his headmistress thinks that's the best policy, too. She often sees a big improvement in overall mood and performance in children who have this partial ban.”

Don’t help your children with homework 

“They’re not being marked on what you can do,” says Linda, 39, mum to twin eight-year-old girls. “I know people who virtually do their children's homework for them, but what's the point in that? It's not a competition.”

Dr Susan Hallam of the Institute of Education also advises that you offer moral support, but only give help when your child asks for it.

'Some kids need a little downtime after school, but if you leave homework too late they'll be too tired to concentrate'

Patricia, mum to two boys aged eight and twelve

Do homework while your child's alert

“The golden rule with a seven-year-old is to get it done as soon as you get in from school, before tea,” says Michael, who has a seven-year-old daughter. “The attention span deteriorates pretty quickly after tea for anything other than Barbie websites.”

Patricia agrees. “Some kids need a little downtime immediately after getting home from school, but if you leave it too late, they'll be too tired to concentrate.”

Homework tip: use a timer

“If you have one of those children who endlessly dawdle over homework, sharpening all their pencils, getting up and down or reading all their previous homework, it can sometimes help to set a timer,” says Patricia.

“If the school recommends 20 minutes a night, then set the timer for 20 minutes and say that's the limit. This can sometimes backfire and result in hysteria though, so play it by ear.”

Let children know you're on their side

“I find that if they're complaining bitterly, it can help to sympathise with them,” says Patricia. “I do genuinely feel for them over homework and it does help them to know I'm on their side. But at the same time I feel I need to insist on it being done, so it's a balancing act."

Page last reviewed: 10/10/2012

Next review due: 10/10/2014

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