Helping the child do homework and learn

Frequent cause of disagreements between parents and children is doing homework. Every parent has at least once been in the dilemma whether to help the child do homework and asked himself/herself why the child has so much or so little homework to do. The child who needs help in doing homework should be provided with it. This does not mean that the parent should do the homework instead, because the child will assume that s/he is incapable of doing it and will have difficulties in accepting that homework is his/her task which has to be regularly and well done.

1. Work on developing your child’s responsibility for doing his/her tasks. You should only help and not perform instead.

2. Explain what your child does not understand, draw your child’s attention to possible mistakes and motivate her/him to correct them.

3. It is not necessary to sit by your child all the time s/he is doing homework. It is important that your child knows you are available and ready to help and explain whatever is not clear in case s/he needs it.

4. Sometimes your child will only need you to check homework to be sure the task has been done well. Do not unnecessarily intrude.

5. Reduce the possibility of distractions during your child’s learning time. Switch off the TV set and the radio. The desk should be neat and clean. All other activities before doing homework finished, the child will not think about them while doing homework.

6. Agree the time for homework with your child at the beginning of the school year (after coming home from school, after lunch, after rest, after playing…) to avoid possible misunderstandings later.

7. The child must feel well and rested in order to do homework or learn efficiently. If s/he has returned from school angry, first talk and help your child get rid of unpleasant emotions and then insist on her/his doing homework. Let your child have rest, because rested brain understands better and faster and tired body hinders brain functioning.

Besides the questions about helping their children with homework, parents also want to know how to help their children be efficient learners and feel good at the same time. Here is what you can try:

1. The same as with doing homework, it is desirable that your child always learns at the same place. The very sitting at the same place where the child used to learn, psychologically prepares your child for learning. It is also good if learning happens at the same time of the day because it enables the child to have enough time for homework, play and rest.

2. The place where your child learns and does homework should be spacious enough and well lit. It should accommodate books and school accessories if necessary.

3. If your child’s learning and homework space is in the room shared by other household members, it is necessary to ensure peace and quiet while s/he is learning and doing homework. It would be ideal if the desk was in your child’s room because that way s/he will develop independence.

4. Put a notice board on the wall next to the desk, so that your child can stick reminders and post-its there.

5. It is very important that you explain what your child is exactly expected to do and achieve while learning. Let your expectations be high but realistic and based on your child’s abilities.

6. It would be useful to explain to your child why learning is good and important. Children, like adults, work better and more readily when they can see the meaning of it.

7. Motivate your child to ask whatever s/he does not understand, because it is very difficult to learn something one does not understand. Relating new with the already acquired material and creating associations between concepts and facts considerably helps.

8. Teach your child to select what is important in order to produce a summary of what s/he has acquired. Such summaries are important because they form a skeleton which can later be easily filled up and decorated with details.

9. Never read the lesson and make a summary instead of your child who will later learn it. The most important part of learning is exactly understanding the material and prioritising between the important and the less important. If the child learns your summaries, it will be mechanical learning, the material will soon be forgotten, and if the teacher formulates questions different from how you have done it, the child will not be capable of answering them.

10. “Help your child to explore and discover the most efficient way of learning. Explain that subjects like geography, history and similar, where there is abundant information to memorize, require frequent repetition of the learning material before they can fully acquire the necessary knowledge. Short periods of walking/drive to school, waiting for the bus and so on, can be used for a quick repetition. Have in mind that there is no universal learning strategy to fit all children. Motivate your child to try several of them (retelling the learning material in his/her own words, creating questions which may appear in the test, learning with a friend, or friends, drawing visually appealing graphic presentations of the material, writing short notes or reminders, creating stories, walking around the room while learning many others.) in order to identify which is/are the best and most efficient for her/him.”

11. Enable and motivate your child to use open-source learning ― in the library, extracurricular activities, etc.

12. Express approval of every success, especially the effort and improvement. It is more important that the child is ready to invest effort to do a task or improve, than the grades s/he gets.

13. Have in mind that children learn by imitating important people, most frequently their parents. If parents read or play educational games and value knowledge, the child is likely to do the same.