K: “I really should do my homework now.”
Lou: “Yes, let’s sit down quietly at the table and get on with it by ourselves”
The Boy: “I’ll put away my noisy toys and stop running around screaming, so you can concentrate.”
Ha ha, in my dreams!! I shall just step back into the real world………
Even though I only have children in primary school, the homework begins in Reception! With three of the little darlings, all at different stages of learning, it’s a real juggling act to make sure everything gets done. I have however, been working at this for a while now and though it’s been a hard slog, we are getting there! The key is consistency and creating a calm, relaxed environment as well as remembering that they are children and if they are too tired, let it go!
My Top Tips for Stress Free Homework Time:
Allow some ‘down-time’ after school before attempting any form of homework (exercise and food should feature in this time!).
I’ve always been one to get things done straight away but this doesn’t work with children! They need some time-out after being cooped up in the school environment, no matter how much they love school or even if their last lesson was PE. The more they run around screaming, they more ready they will be to sit back down and concentrate.
Try to stick to the time you choose, every time you do homework.
For us, this has been essential. After trial, error and necessity, our homework time is 7pm, after the children have bathed and are ready for bed. It started this way because I needed to get the younger ones into bed before I could sit down with K and really give her my full attention. Now, it’s our routine and though this time might not suit all, I would really recommend having a regular ‘homework cue’ e.g. after dinner, it really saves the ‘but I’m just doing this’ or ‘I’ll do it later’. However………..
You have to take advantage of a captive audience, stuck in a car!!
If we are waiting around for one of them at a club, I always take homework with me. The best things for the car are spellings, times-tables and telling the time! I have a fab little clock that we take in the car to play with, we chant times-tables old-school style (the old ways are still the best!) and then the Boy will read to me while spellings are revised by the girls. It’s easy to kill 45 minutes and sometimes longer if I read to them too.
Limit the time on any particular activity and devise rotations.
I have found it best for them to do all of their homework together- otherwise the green-eyed-monster can’t stand the fact that another sibling might be having fun without them! However, having them all sat at the kitchen table together, doesn’t work either as one reading, distracts the concentration of another. So we have a rotation:
- Sitting on the sofa to read to me (and then me to them)
- Sitting at the kitchen table for any written work.
- Using the PC.
During this time, only educational things are allowed on the PC. The school have subscriptions to Mathletics and Reading Eggs which the children actually enjoy doing (there are loads of similar things on-line to try). I will also allow ‘Alphablocks’ and ‘Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures’ for the Boy as he is only little. He hates being left out of anything, so he’s been joining in ‘homework time’ since preschool!
- We limit each activity to maximum 15 minutes.
The Boy (5) always starts on the sofa and then goes to the PC (as he doesn’t yet have written homework) to then be in bed at 7.30pm. The girls continue for a while longer, depending on how much homework they have, with my help where needed.
Always incorporate reading.
If there is no specific homework, we read. The girls read independently, though Lou still reads to me regularly. K is currently reading the final Harry Potter novel, she was bought the set for Christmas and has her head in a book every spare second she’s got! (Therapy may be needed when she finishes the last one!) I’m so glad her dyslexia hasn’t hindered her love of reading! The younger two still really enjoy being read to and this is an important part of our homework time. The girls often read to the Boy (really cute to watch!) and K will even listen and help the Boy read, on occasion!
Try to keep it fun with no pressure.
Remember how young they are! I don’t remember getting homework until I was into secondary school and even then it was often finishing something from the lesson, until I reached GCSE years. Little and often, has been the best formula for us, and trying to make it fun with computer-programs and books. Learning should be fun and not a chore (though I can’t guarantee it will never be a chore- for you or them!!), we are stuck with homework so have to make the best of it!!
Oh and I haven’t even gotten into the stress of helping with homework- cue the Tutor! Math methods, English grammar terminology, power point presentations, the list goes on……… and they’re still in primary school!
How does homework time work in your household? Do you have any tips to keep things stress free? If your little ones aren’t in school yet, did you realise what’s to come?