Local tutor Jennifer Fox is based locally to Rusthall. She has 7 years experience in primary education and is qualified to Master’s Degree level. She covers all ages of primary school children, including children with special educational needs. Jennifer runs Jennifer Fox Tutoring and has compiled her top tips for parents/carers to help their children with homework.
We all know that homework can sometimes be a difficult thing to engage our children in. Sometimes children are unsure of what is being asked of them, and at other times we are unsure how our children have been taught to do something at school. As a primary school teacher, I would like to share some of my top tips for parents/carers to engage their children in their homework, in a harmonious way.
The Right Frame of Mind
This is an important factor when asking a child to do work outside of school. I’ve had great feedback when from parents who have followed these suggestions for getting their child into the right frame of mind for homework:
- Where possible do homework the day that it’s set. Concepts which have been taught at school are fresh in your child’s mind, and they are more likely to feel confident about having a go.
- Most children wear a uniform to school. To stay in the ‘school’ mindset – and therefore still in learning mode – keep your child in their uniform when they do homework. For example, they finish school at 3:30pm, are home for 4:00pm, which would be a perfect time for them to get involved in their homework – still in their uniform. Once their homework is complete they can get changed and have some downtime. Own clothes equals own time. I understand that this isn’t always practical for older children who have more homework or finish school later, but I’ve found it very helpful for younger children.
- Don’t leave holiday homework until the last minute. Children forget what their instructions were or how they were taught to do something in school. Then parents try to teach them how to do it, which might be different from the way they were taught at school. This could be confusing, making homework a struggle and stressful for all involved.
Many schools set spelling homework, and if your child is good at spelling then they may enjoy it. For those that find it tricky, it can be more stressful. If your child finds spelling difficult, there are a couple of things you can do to take the pressure off.
- Use a whiteboard. A whiteboard is less threatening, because if a mistake is made, it can easily be erased and rectified. It’s also easier to write on than traditional pen and paper, as it’s a smooth surface with is less resistance. Additionally, you can use different coloured pens to make it more fun. If you don’t have a whiteboard, try using a small baking tray or plastic box. Pour in some sand or salt and practice writing in the sand. A little shake makes them all disappear.
- Use a mnemonic. This may sound like an extra thing to teach your child in addition to their spellings, but children seem to love them – and the sillier the better! For example, to teach spelling ‘because’, I would to tell my class:
‘Big Elephants Cause Accidents Under Small Elephants.’
For ‘necessary’ I used:
‘Never Eat Cheese Eat Salad Sandwiches And Remain Young.’
For the family of words: could, should, would, I used:
‘Oh U Lucky Duck.’
All of these conjure up a funny story or visual picture, which helps them to remember the spelling. It doesn’t matter whether they are learning to spell 3-letter words or 10-letter words; a silly story will help them remember.
Times tables is another homework staple which can get tiresome pretty quickly (and I love maths!). Thankfully, YouTube genius Mr. DeMaio has rewritten the lyrics to chart hits to the times tables. Once your child knows the times table lyrics they won’t be able to help singing along to the radio with the new words.
The Months of the Year
Some of you may know this rhyme, and if this works for your child then brilliant. However if this just won’t stick, then all you need is two clenched fists (and this is not because it’s frustrating!). Get your child to make two fists and with thumbs together, before asking them to look at their knuckles. Starting on the far left, a knuckle is a long month and a dip in between knuckles is a short month. Easy peasy!