“I haven’t got any homework”… How many times has your child come home from school and said that? Unfortunately, most children think that homework is a chore, a complete waste of time. According to a lot of children they feel like if they have to sit and do homework there will be no time for playing or watching television. In some cases, just trying to get your child to do their homework is a constant struggle. Then there are other issues such as too much homework, too little homework and even as a parent not being able to understand the homework…argh it’s just HOMEWORK and schools understand the importance for children to play and have leisure activities outside school hours.
Why Homework is Important
Homework is an important part of your child’s learning. It’s not for punishing your child by making them spend more time studying and less time playing. It is an essential part of your child’s development and encourages responsibility, independence, time management, studying habits and concentration. There are a variety of reasons for why your child does homework, which include:
- Review and reinforces work taught in the classroom.
- Develops skills such as researching and using a range of resources.
- Bridges the gap between learning at school and learning at home.
- Provides opportunities for you (as a parent) to see your child’s progress.
- Prepares your child for future lessons.
Homework also builds partnerships between you and your child’s teacher. As you begin to encourage your child to complete their homework and work with them, you begin to learn about your child’s education, subjects taught in the classroom and gain an understanding of how much knowledge your child actually has acquired from learning.
Types of Homework
There are three main types of homework that your child may receive to complete. They are:
Practice Exercises – helps your child remember and practice skills taught in the classroom. Such as spelling words, multiplication tables, writing essays and reading.
Preparatory Homework – requires your child to research and read background information to prepare them for future lessons on a specific subject. For e.g. reading and collecting information about the universe for a lesson in science.
Extension Assignments – encourages your child to follow up on previously learnt knowledge, individually and imaginatively. This can include, researching on the net or writing a book review.
Even though these are the three types of homework, it depends on your child’s age and ability on which type they will receive. If your child is in kindergarten they are more likely to get Practice Exercises rather than Extension Assignments. There are often times when your child will receive a combination of all three types of homework, which depends on what year of schooling they are in.
How Much Homework Will Your Child Receive?
Below is a guideline from Kindergarten to Year 3 which enables you to see how much homework your child is expected to receive. Please note that this is to be used as a general guideline only and other factors may come into consideration such as the type of school your child attend, the subjects your child is taught and the school homework policy.
Kindergarten – Typically your child’s teacher will not set formal homework in Kindergarten. This means that your child may or may not have homework each night. Even though your child may not receive homework during this stage, there is a variety of activities you can do to encourage your child to develop a wide range of skills in literacy, numeracy and problem solving, in common family activities, such as:
- Borrowing books from the library.
- Going shopping.
- Family outings.
- Collecting items.
- Listening to stories.
- Singing songs and nursery rhymes.
- Computer and video games (these help with a range of skills that your child can develop and extend on as long as it is used in moderation).
- Talking about your child’s interest and what is happening at school.
Year 1 & Year 2 - From Years 1 and 2, generally some formal homework is set. These are usually Practice Exercises, which will require your child to copy words and letters (or) complete activity sheets.
Year 3 – At this stage your child will begin to increasingly work independently on their homework. Your child’s teacher will continue to provide support and assistance, especially in developing study skills. Most homework will be set in English, Math and Human Society and its Environment; however it can also be set across all areas of the curriculum.
When deciding how much time your child spends doing homework there is no “right” or “wrong” amount, however you need to be realistic. Some researchers believe that from Year 1 up until Year 3 it should not exceed more than 20 minutes a night. This primarily depends on your child and the homework given. If your child receives Math homework and they understand and are good at Math they are more likely to finish it faster than a child who struggles with Math. Bear in mind that realistically you can’t expect your child at this age to sit down and study for over an hour…They are still young themselves.
Practical Strategies to Encourage Homework
One of the best ways to encourage your child to do homework is to let your child know that you BELIEVE homework is important and that you CARE. If you don’t show an interest in your child’s homework and what they are doing, how can you expect them to complete it? Here are some ways you can show interest in your child’s homework:
Have a regular set time – It’s important to have a consistent and regular time for your child to complete their homework. Choosing a time to do homework also depends on your child’s age and afternoon activities. For example, if your child comes home from school then has soccer training in the afternoon; it’s probably a good idea to schedule homework time before dinner (for e.g. from 5:30pm to 6:00pm). Usually after dinner children become tired and are more likely to want to relax so it’s best to try and set homework time before dinner. Talk to your child and develop a homework routine together. This will encourage your child to actually stick to the time you both agreed on and show them that you BELIEVE homework as a high priority. It’s also helpful to write out the homework routine and put it in a place where it can be seen regularly.
Create a homework area – It’s a good idea to create a homework area, where your child can complete their homework. It should have lots of light and be fairly quiet. A kitchen table or using a small table in the living room works fine at this stage. If you decide to create a special study corner, you can include a desk with a plant and hang your child’s favourite artwork to the walls to make homework time more pleasant.
No Television – During the regular set homework time turn the television off (even if others in the family want to watch T.V). Instead encourage all family members to indulge in a quiet activity during homework time. If distractions can’t be avoided, take your child to your local library to complete their homework.
Provide Equipment and Supplies – Collect pencils, textas, erasers, writing paper, glue , scissors, pencil sharpeners and other equipment that might be helpful to your child during homework time. It’s a good idea to keep these all in one place (such as in the homework area). This way your child can have access to them during home work time. Regarding computers, it’s not necessary for your child at this age to be required to have a computer to complete homework.
Be a Role Model – As a parent, you have the biggest influence on your child. They are more likely to do homework if they see you reading and writing and tasks that require you to make an effort. Talk to your child about what you are doing. Even if it’s as simple as writing the shopping list. Tell your child about what you do at work and encourage activities that support your child’s learning. For e.g. educational games, going to the library, trips to the zoo and museums and household jobs to teach responsibility.
Show Interest – It’s vital that you show an interest in your child’s learning and homework. Ask questions about what they are learning in school and encourage them to show you their homework. Let them know that you are there to help with any questions they may need to clarify, during homework tasks. Overall take an active interest in your child’s learning.
Homework is a part of your child’s school education and learning. It’s important for you, as a parent to become involved in your child’s education and help your child to develop consistent study habits which will enable them to complete homework tasks, and this will benefit them throughout their life. When you show a positive approach towards homework, rest assured your child will begin to feel positive about homework too.