Recently, it has dawned on me (again), that homework can be a tough gig for parents. As a teacher, I have always appreciated this. But now I am on the receiving end of a homework grid, I really do understand it. And it’s glaringly obvious that many parents are crying out for help!
So, we have created a new Helpful Homework Tips for Parents Poster. Check it out!
Remember, what may come naturally to you as a teacher, may not for every parent or guardian.
So read on to find out how you can support parents with homework time.
Why is Homework Time Hard?
When we see another person’s point of view it allows us to be more empathetic. So, let’s take a minute to consider a parents point of view. The truth is that for many parents, supporting schoolwork at home is a struggle and a conflicting battle of strong minds. From a parents perspective getting homework done is a bit like trying to drive a car without fuel.
Also, remember that parents are often juggling, work, busy family life, other siblings, cooking dinner and driving kids to extra-curricular commitments. So what seems like a simple 15-20 minutes of homework to you, may seem like a big deal for parents.
In fact, there is a whole host of contributing factors to the struggle. Here are a few more:
- exhausted children
- unsuitable homework environment
- resistance to help and instruction from parents
- unclear homework instructions.
Helpful Homework Tips for Parents
Our new Helpful Homework Tips for Parents Poster has been created to enable you to offer support to parents who are struggling to manage homework expectations. Simply send a copy of this letter home or adapt the content of this letter by using the editable version of this resource.
As teachers, it’s in our nature to want to help and solve problems. So, support parents by suggesting a few winning strategies to make homework time easier. Encourage parents and carers to:
- establish a homework routine, but stay flexible
- minimise disruption
- use positive reinforcement and a reward chart
- provide a drink and snack before starting
- allow for physical activity before starting homework
- stay calm, relaxed and positive.
Please note that the homework tips included in this poster are a guide. Each student will have specific, individual needs that should be considered. Homework should be both manageable and meaningful. Most importantly, it should be a positive, purposeful experience.
Provide Clear Information
Are you getting an increasing number of parent queries regarding homework expectations? If you are, then bear in mind that if one parent is feeling confused, then it’s more than likely several parents are.
I know what you are thinking… I explained homework at the beginning of the school year! But, remember that the start of the year can feel like information overload for many parents. So, they will be very grateful for a reminder or an update.
Why not use our Editable Homework Information Sheet? You can use this handy information sheet as a guide or use the editable version to add in different elements of your homework procedure.
Don’t forget… when it comes to homework, the more information regarding what needs to be done and how to do it, the better!
Provide a Homework Grid
Many parents love homework grids because they are easy to interpret and to use. A homework grid can make homework easier for parents because it offers:
- clear instructions
- manageable, bite-sized tasks
- opportunities for active learning.
What’s more, homework grids are a winner for teachers because they can be created in advance, allow you to differentiate easily and they reduce paper wastage.
But the only downer is that planning a homework grid can be time-consuming. So, to solve that problem we have created an editable matrix of over 100 homework activities linked to the Australian Curriculum for a range of learning areas (Years 1 -6).
For more information and more awesome homework ideas read Holly’s blog 10 Helpful Homework Ideas and Tips for Primary School Teachers.
Set Up Well and Reduce Distractions
One of the greatest bits of advice you can give to parents is to set up a homework friendly area. After all, a clear desk encourages a clear mind and can help to keep distractions to a minimum.
Also, remind parents to support their children when organising their work station and getting necessary books and resources ready to go! This promotes focus and avoids wasting time.
Invest in a Whiteboard and a Timer
Another great tip to share with parents is to invest in a whiteboard. Kids love the novelty of using a whiteboard and this strategy work particularly well with kids who have a perfectionist tendency. What’s more, using a whiteboard is great for motivating students to write and learn their spelling words.
Don’t forget to recommend that parents take a quick photo of the whiteboard to keep a record of the task completed. This photo can be glued into their homework books.
I would also recommend the use of a timer. This is because most children have a limited understanding of the concept of time. And 15 minutes can sound like an eternity to tired children. So suggest to parents that they set and display a timer as a motivational tool.
Create a Home Readers Corner
One of the most common complaints is that Home Readers are a struggle. This is because, after a long day at school, students are reluctant to engage in the complex process of reading and comprehending. And let’s face it, the books we send home are often a little dry and unlikely to compete with the likes of Captain Underpants.
So, you can help parents and students to enjoy home readers more by suggesting that they set up a cosy corner as a go-to place for reading.
How else can you support parents with home reading? Here are a few ideas:
- Provide take-home books that are at a slightly lower level than the diagnostic reading level of students.
- Allow students to choose books of interest (from a selection of books at an appropriate level).
- Share the reading strategies that you use in class and how to use them.
And if want to go above and beyond, why not share our video Share Home Reading – A Guide for Parents.
Use a Reward Chart
And finally, a great tip to share with parents is to use a reward chart. Encourage parents to keep it simple with our Desk Reward Charts that are available in various colours.
Parents can award their child with a sticker or stamp each day that they complete their homework. Remember to explain that students should be awarded for effort rather than the outcome. You could also suggest your child works towards a longer-term goal of collecting 5 stickers or stamps for a reward of their choice.
When it comes to homework, the Teach Starter team are passionate advocates of quality over quantity. We want to help you set tasks that are meaningful and manageable for both your students and yourself. For more brilliant ideas head to our Homework Basket Activities Teaching Resources collection.
If you are looking for a fresh perspective on homework read my blog Why Take an Alternative Approach to Traditional Homework?