Helping you get the most out of your child’s education
There are so many exciting and wonderful things to look forward to as your little one enters into the new world of ‘big school’. Unfortunately, for many families, homework isn’t one of them. After a few short introductory weeks the dreaded homework will begin. This is a journey that you will continue on with your child throughout his Primary and High school years.
The amount of homework that your child will receive during the Junior Phase years may not be a great deal but it is vitally important that you use this time to set up a structured routine. This will enable your child to be efficient and productive during his homework time as the volume of work and the pressure on your child will only increase as he grows through the grades. It is important to try to make a habit of homework; one habit that you hope he will have throughout his school career!
It is important to keep homework within a structured routine. Same place, same time; or at least in the same sort of environment at around the same time each afternoon! On your way home from school mention that you will be doing homework when you get home. Try to be positive about it, (though I know you may not feel that way!) After all the school and extra-mural activities your child may be happier to start his homework after a quick snack and a few minutes playing with his toys. Be sure to set the time aside clearly and to tell him the exact amount of time that he has to relax before you start the homework routine. Eg. “You can play with your toys/outside for 15 minutes and then we will start your homework together”. Be sure to call your child in at the correct time, and be wary of negotiating “just 5 more minutes”.
Set up a work space for your child. A space within your home where he can concentrate easily, away from pets, siblings or other stimuli that may distract him. Make sure that he has a comfortable work top and chair (not trying to balance on a barstool at the kitchen counter, or scrunched up on the floor leaning on his bed in his bedroom). Ensure that he has all the resources he needs (pencils, crayons, a ruler, an eraser and koki pens, readers and work books, a white board and scrap paper). This will stop him from being distracted and running off the find whatever he may need, therefore prolonging the session and eating into your free family time.
The length of the homework session is also extremely important. In the Junior Phase, teachers will usually give a set amount of homework each day. Your child is generally expected to finish their homework in 30 minutes in Grade 1, 30 minutes in Grade 2 and 40 minutes in Grade 3 (split into 10 minutes of Reading, 10 Minutes of Phonics/Spelling/Literacy and 10 minutes of Numeracy). Try not to pressure your child to ‘slog on’ past the allotted time, it will only cause them to become disgruntled and to develop a poor attitude towards homework. You have many years of homework ahead of you, so don’t make it a fight! If your child is unable to concentrate for the set period and cannot complete within the time on a daily basis then it would be a good idea to contact your little one’s teacher.
It is important to remember that your child needs your support while doing their homework. It may seem impossible at times, but your child will benefit so much from 20 minutes of undivided attention when they are doing homework. Remember that it is important to support your child, but don’t be tempted to do your child’s homework for them. You should be present, to share ideas and to ask them questions to help them to solve the answers.
Watch out for my next blog where I will be discussing some tips for making homework a little more interesting!