Ad: This is a collaborative post – but all opinions and ideas are my own.
Homework! The very word can be guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of many a parent – me included! As a teacher I would gaily set what I felt were lovely project homeworks. You know the type:
Hey parents – this term we would LOVE for you to unlease your creativity and create the whole of the solar system using 3 toilet rolls and a cardboard box! Have fun!
Yep – I’m sad to say that in a former life I was THAT type of teacher! I mean, how much fun would the parents have! Answer??? NONE! Absolutely none! As a parent, I passionately hate homework and project homework is the worst. If they have to do homework then so be it – but why on earth do I have to be involved?? I did my homework many moons ago and I’m really not planning on doing my children’s for them (again, yep I’m that type of mum!)
So, over the years I have come up with several top tips that I use to ‘help’ my children with their homework. Disclosure – they don’t always work BUT they should at least take some of the stress out of your life!
Get the workspace set up!
I hadn’t really realised before the kids started Junior School, that a good homework space is actually key to making homework run a little smoother! I’d originally thought that they could either work at the kitchen table, or in their rooms. In my opinion, neither really works for us. At the kitchen table, I’m forever asking them to pack away so we can actually eat dinner – and in their rooms there are FAR too many distractions, and homework never gets done!
So, we made the decision to set up a small space in the living room that they could use for their homework. We started by researching office desks, chairs and stationery storage. It was only a small space so everything needed to have a place and the desk needed to be easy to clean (because..well, felt tips!) We made sure that we included a printer under the desk and a lamp for the darker evenings and we were good to go!
I’m quite an old fashioned type of mum, and prefer to encourage the children to use books for their research, but the reality is that I end up spending most of the time doing their research for them which isn’t the plan! So we now use tablets to help them do their research. It’s been a bit of a lifesaver as they type into Google ‘Solar System Project’ and up pops a huge number of ideas.
Actually, scrap that! It’s been both a lifesaver and a nightmare – a lot of our conversation goes along the lines of ‘No, I’m not buying 24 plastic balls, 3 metres of elastic and 2 pounds of clay!’ So there is a little bit of compromise, but it has been great for the children to be able to see what’s out there and come up with their own more realistic ideas!
As a teacher, I was all one for showing a finished idea to the children – after all it’s very hard even as an adult to come up with ideas out of nowhere, and it’s so much harder for children. Seeing what they can do, has really given them more ideas!
This is one that I really struggled with at the start. After all, you see parents (mainly on sitcoms I grant you), arriving at school with intricate ideas, that you KNOW they did themselves. And yes we find the same in schools too. The thing is, as a teacher, you know those parents who have done it all for the child, and those parents who have encouraged their child to do it themselves. I’m very much the second one!
The learning the children get from doing their own research, laying out their own writing, building their own sculpture is immeasurable. All the incidental learning is often bigger and more long lasting than knowing the names of the planets! So I encourage the children to go ahead and do their own project. I don’t mind what they do, so long as they actually put the time in and are proud of the work they have done (even I draw the line at a 5 minute scrappy drawing!). And I know that the teachers will understand that my child did their project themselves!
Homework is always going to set both parents and children down a battle path (if you have kids who love homework that’s great – but so many of us don’t!) But…it doesn’t have to be such a big battle. And if the worst comes to the worst – there’s always homework club!!!