Tips for helping your child with their homework

Girl writing at desk

We all know that homework can sometimes be a struggle - not only can it be difficult to motivate your child to focus, it can also be daunting if you yourself don’t know exactly how to approach the task that has been set. As we get ready to head back to school, we asked Mya Medina, Senior Tutor Team Lead at the online tutoring company, GoStudent, to share her best tips and tricks for tackling homework with confidence this school year!

Make school homework part of your family’s daily routine

Parents should approach homework positively and embed it into the family’s daily routine. One way to do this is to make it a habit to always tackle homework when returning home from school. Giving your child a snack or a drink to help fuel them through their studies may incentivise them to focus.

This being said, some children work better in the evening after their dinner. Take time to understand your child’s rhythms, then be sure to make it routine to always carve out space for school homework during that time slot.

Lastly, always praise children for the effort that they have put in, rather than focusing on the quality of their work - the goal is to make homework a fun part of their day, not something that they feel concerned about.

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Create an environment that works for them

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to homework within the family. That said, for parents with multiple children, it might be hard for them to complete homework at different times as they may be less inclined to study when their siblings are relaxing or playing. The key is to ensure that they all have a quiet space to study, whether that is together or separately in their rooms, away from distractions.

It is important for parents to ensure that their child is not spending too long on a task. This could mean that they are struggling with maintaining a productive pace, finding the content too challenging, or perhaps they are procrastinating. This could result in a dislike for homework and a reluctance to complete it. If you notice this is happening, talk to your child about why, and take time to understand how you may be able to support them further.

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Tackle homework while the task is still fresh in your child’s mind

The best time to complete homework is normally the soonest available window after it has been set. Some deadlines are shorter than others, so waiting until the weekend can increase pressure and reduce the amount of time the student has to ask for additional help from their teacher.

It is also important to remember that children can forget the specifics of what has been set if they wait a long time to tackle their homework, making them (and you) frustrated. If you do need to wait some time before completing the work, then always get a quick download from your child on the day the homework is set, so that you are both clear on what needs to be done.

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Don't feel like you have to have all the answers!

Parents are not expected to know everything! If you don’t know how to tackle, for example, a maths problem, don’t beat yourself up. Take these moments as an opportunity. A great way to do this is to encourage your child to look up the parts of the question they’re unfamiliar with, and then learn about it together.

If you are still struggling, contacting the teacher can also be beneficial, as they may be able to offer additional instructions, as long as the parent or student has reached out in plenty of time before the deadline.

Alternatively, tutoring can provide valuable subject expertise and guidance as well as consistent homework support. According to GoStudent’s recent Education Report, 96% of UK students stated that they found tutoring valuable so, if this sounds like something your child could benefit from, perhaps explore the options that are available to you.

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Know when your child might need a little extra help

The truth is, it can be hard to spot when your child is struggling. Most often, by the time parents find out their child is having issues it may be as late as parents’ evening. My best advice is to start an open and supportive conversation with your child about their homework from day one. Always try to remain judgement-free and try to listen to your child’s concerns before jumping in to offer solutions. Often, it can be hard to admit they are struggling - especially if they are comparing themselves to their peers - so taking time to communicate really is key.

Once you’ve identified that some extra support might be required, then there are a range of options to explore - from talking to your child’s school to understand how you can help, to exploring 1:1 tuition with a company like GoStudent, which will tailor lessons to the unique learning style of your child.

No matter your chosen path, always keep in mind that homework should be a positive experience for you and your child. Communicating, keeping a routine, and not being afraid to ask for support when needed are all sure-fire ways to ensure that after-school learning stays fun and engaging!

This guest post was written by Mya Medina,Senior Tutor Team Lead at the online tutoring company, GoStudent.

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Mya has worked in the education industry for the better part of a decade. As a former education consultant and full-time tutor. Currently the Senior Team Lead for the tutor department at the UK/IE branch of GoStudent, she oversees the recruitment and management of the tutor community.

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