How To Set Up a Homework Routine That Works
Setting up a homework routine is an important practice for your child. Not only does it ensure that school work is done in time, but it also teaches your child some very important life skills such as how to manage their time effectively, how to prioritise, how to motivate themselves and the concept of delayed reward.
It’s an important skill to set early because their ability to apply themselves to homework (and eventually study) will be a big part of their future educational success.
Setting up a homework practice
How to set up a homework routine that works
If this is your first time trying to implement a homework routine, have a chat about it with your child before you start. Explain to them what is going to happen and why homework is important. Come to an agreement as to when and how much time they think might be a realistic time frame to set in place. Note: Hopefully you have already attended a parent information session to help guide this expectation.
Remember that your positive attitude towards education and learning early on is essential to a lifelong love of learning.
If you have a pre-schooler then something as simple as a reading together in the afternoon is a great way for children to get used to a consistent routine of learning time.
Make a homework “sanctuary” (have a regular spot)
It’s important to have a dedicated space for homework, preferably the same place each day. An office desk or dining table is usually fine; the key is to keep it uncluttered and distraction-free. No TVs, no computer games, and preferably without people (aka siblings) coming and going. Respect their need for space and quiet.
If you have lots of kids who need to complete homework then you may need to supervise a communal area to ensure work gets done. The idea is for homework to be done efficiently and without you having to yell or get upset with your children. This is best achieved by setting up the ideal homework environment that WORKS as a foundation rather than trying to manage homework in a situation and/or environment that was always against you from the beginning.
Timing is key and each child is different
Your child will probably respond best to a homework routine if it occurs soon after school finishes. That way, the lessons are still fresh in their mind and tiredness is yet to set in. If you think your child will struggle to concentrate the whole time, then begin with a short homework period and increase it gradually. Consider breaking the homework routine into two segments, with a short reward in between.
If you find afternoons are not ideal due to personal circumstances or lethargy, then consider a morning session of homework as your routine especially in the early years.
Sometimes getting out of the house and grabbing some afternoon tea at a local cafe (or alternatively breakfast) can also be a nice change to the routine.
Create a reward system
Children respond well to rewards, and using one can help to keep them motivated in the beginning. It doesn’t need to be huge; playtime, television, or a little treat after homework is completed are all sufficient. As the routine builds and the child ages, consider slowly phasing out the reward. Don’t forget that praise by itself is also a great reward for kids, so keep those good vibes coming.
It’s also important to focus on praising the effort and improvement, more than the results. And remember, being interested in what they are learning and the work they produce can be a significant motivator for kids.
Participate where necessary
Homework can be hard! Struggling with homework is perfectly normal, but if you sense that your child is becoming particularly frustrated, then do step in and offer to help. In the early days, you will be an integral part of homework in both guiding them towards the answer and validating their success. As they grow older your guidance will become less about the answers and more about simply reinforcing their routine and supporting them with space, time and the odd snack.
It’s important that your child does not associate the homework routine with feelings of frustration, inadequacy and helplessness. Your positive participation will also act as a reward and will help to reinforce the routine. If you feel your child is constantly unable to complete their homework independently then you should make a point of discussing this with their teacher.
Other quick tips
- Fuel them while they are working. Make sure they have something to nibble on and something to keep themselves hydrated. This is as much about their current well being as it is about teaching them good study skills.
- Buy more pencils and rubbers etc. than you need. Make sure their homework area is well stocked with the equipment they will need to complete their homework. This will avoid a lot of unnecessary frustration and movement up and down from their chair.
- Experiment with music. Some kids will focus better in silence, while others will work better to some sort of music background.
- Breaking down homework into a few days of work can work better for some kids while others will want to get it all out of the way. Try to let them set their pace, support them through these decisions, even if they might make the wrong one from time to time.
Remember that consistency is key in developing routines and that it takes time for something to become a habit. We have gathered some further support for you in your role as a school parent.
- How to support kids while they make mistakes with their homework
- Smart snacking ideas for homework time that maximise learning
- Come to a mutual understanding with your child over homework
- Make a homework area and equip them with the tool
- Choose a time that suits both you and them but stick to it
- Be interested, praise often with specific praise
- Set up a reward system
- Helping kids with homework is ok
We hope that this post helps to support your homework routine or helps you to set up a new one. If you have any tips you want to share to help other parents then please feel free to do so below.