In my ten years of teaching, coupled with my experience as the owner of Pathways Tuition, the question that is most often asked by parents of my students is 'how do I get my son/daughter to do their homework'? The answer to this age old question is actually quite simple; create a homework routine. Studies show that students who complete 90 minutes to 2.5 hours of homework each night score higher on assessment and tests in class (Cooper, 1989; Cooper, Robinson, & Patall, 2006, Sedl, 2008).
Homework not only improves assessment results but offers a myriad of benefits for children, including developing good study habits ready for senior high school, TAFE or university, creating effective organisational skills that children can use when they are adults and it importantly shows children that there is a link between school and home, an idea that is too frequently forgotten in today's society.
Before beginning homework, it is important that children have time to unwind after learning for almost 5 hours a day. Allow your child time to eat a snack when they arrive home from school and have half an hour to relax and unwind. My children play outside or watch television for half an hour. Sometimes we walk our dogs after school or play with the neighbourhood children at the park. After they have had time to switch off and recharge, children are much more focused and prepared to learn again, thus avoiding the arguments or simple refusal to complete homework.
In a world where technology inhabits our children's lives, both in school and at home, it is often difficult to implement a homework routine that children will stick to (rather than playing Minecraft for instance when you turn your back). Some suggestions to combat this issue that parents struggle with day in and day out it to set up a homework space for your children that is near you so that you are able to keep an eye on the content that is popping up on their ipad screens. The kitchen bench, dining room table or even better, a communal open family study work well for this as children are able to have some independence whilst doing their homework and you are able to not only keep an eye on their screen but you can also answer any questions that they may have.
The next step in creating a homework environment is to remove any distractions. Turn off the television, close the blinds so the children are unable to see the neighbours playing out the front and create the right temperature so that your child has nothing to distract them from the tasks at hand. Recent studies have shown that relaxation music is also beneficial for study; “Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory,” (Godkin, 2017). There are many apps available that offer free downloads of relaxation music that not only helps students to concentrate by enabling use of both sides of their brain but it will also benefit them by taking the stress out of study.
One of the most invaluable methods of getting your child to complete their homework is by being near them when they are studying so that you can not only check their screens for games they might be playing but you can also help them if they are struggling. In my career, I have lost count of the amount of times a student has been unable to complete their homework because they didn't understand it and their parents were not available to help them. These children were the ones who always jumped at the opportunity for lunch time and after school tutorials as they genuinely wanted to improve their results and they knew that homework was the key.
It is quite understandable with the cost of living, house prices and the materialistic world we live in today that both parents must work full time just to make ends meet. If you are in this situation then perhaps a private tutor is the answer for you. Many tutoring companies offer private tuition from experienced teachers who can either come to your home or tutor online (including Pathways Tuition, a Gold Coast Tuition business that specialises in setting up homework schedules that work).
Finally, many schools now offer free homework clubs where students can stay at school one afternoon a week and receive assistance with their homework (and assessment). Although there are often a class full of students with only a couple of teachers available, students can ask teachers questions about homework and they will be able to receive answers so that they can finish their homework at home on their own.
So if your child is struggling to complete their homework and you are exhausted by the arguments about it, try these suggestions to get them back on track or book a session with one of the friendly tutors at Pathways Tuition today.