Below is a number of ways which might be of value to parents to help their children with homework and reading at home. We hope everyone finds them useful as we know homework can be a struggle sometimes for all parties concerned.
Agree on a set time for homework with your child. Among other tips,Schooldays.ie suggest that you allow your child some of choice, i.e. that your child may start and finish when they want to, providing it falls between 3pm and 5pm.
Have a snack before they start – it gives a little break in between school and homework, and lessens the chance of low blood sugars causing rows!
Encourage your child to sit at a table – it makes their handwriting much neater.
There’s a familiar scene in every classroom at least once or twice a week, where a child goes into a panic because they know that they did their homework, but can’t find it. Get your child to check that they have all the books and copies they need for the next day in their bag.
On the topic of organisational skills, encourage your child to label, date and number their work. It’s much easier to identify their homework and it looks far neater. We also ask our students to rule their page in red pen.
Switch off the tv and game consoles while your child is doing their homework. We’re not suggesting that everyone should tiptoe or whisper – but distracting lights and noise will only delay getting homework finished.
One important tip that came up via Schooldays.ie is one that we would also recommend. Allow your child to make mistakes. Help them to correct mistakes, rather than constantly correcting their mistakes. Editing work and correcting mistakes, particularly in Maths, are important skills.
Parents often tell us that their children are taking way too long to do their homework. We recommend using an oven timer or an alarm on your phone to keep your child on task. Allowing ten minutes for a task will often focus the child and can help to eliminate the long periods of time staring out the window.
If your child is working consistently but is still genuinely struggling with homework, talk to your child’s teacher. Note in his/her homework journal the amount of time being spent on homework for a couple of days and discuss what you’ve noticed with the teacher in person.
Test your child by mixing up the vocabulary or maths facts. Can your child spell or say the answers when they’re out of order?
Test your child by asking him or her to write it down. Can they say it and write it?
Encourage your child to do their learning homework every day. The repetition of learning everyday will help your child to hold on to the knowledge. Five or ten minutes every day is much better than three hours in one night!
On the same point, practise learning homework in the car, in the supermarket, waiting for the bus – tables are especially important to learn in this way. They really need to be second nature.
One way to learn vocabulary and spellings is to use ‘Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check’. Your child writes the tricky word, looks at it carefully and says it. Your child then covers the word and attempts to write it. They then check the spelling of the word. If the word is correct, the child can move on. If it’s incorrect, repeat the process.
In the senior end of the school, your child will generally not need you to ‘hear’ their reading every single day. However, it is important that you check that they understand what they’ve read. Ask them to tell you five things that they read (and make sure that they’re not from the same page!)
In the junior end of the school, it’s really important that your child focuses on fluency. This means that it’s not enough for your child to be able to read every word by itself. It’s also important for them to read all the words smoothly as a sentence.
It’s important that your child practises reading with expression. Encourage them to play around with silly voices for characters and ask them how a character might have said a certain piece of dialogue.
Junior classes also use word walls to increase vocabulary. Read over each word (and mix up the order!) until your child can say it confidently. Your child should also try to use the word in a sentence to show you that they know what it means.