SELF HELP RESOURCE - Parenting / School Age

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Homework time is often fraught with tension both for the parents and children. Very few schools are sensitive to the work load that they pile on kids and this in turn leads to stress which is hardly conducive for learning! While parental involvement is necessary, we should not overstep our boundaries by actually completing their work for them. Sometimes we may be tempted to do so since there is no time, but hold that thought.

Here we give a few tips for empowering your child to handle his school work with confidence and support him without interfering too much.

Discuss the benefits of homework
Don't expect your child to feel very enthusiastic about homework. But do help take away the drudgery by talking about learning as fun and informative. Explain how homework helps to concretize what they have learnt in school, understand concepts and apply the knowledge effectively.

Help your child make a routine
Discuss the concept of time management and help him schedule and balance his study and play time effectively. Set a fixed time for homework for both weekdays and weekends. But make sure that you do not nag him the minute he comes back from school. Allow him time for play, read or anything else to relax and then start him off on homework.

Provide the right setting for homework
Make sure that you provide a well-ventilated and well-lit place to do the homework. Your child should also have a fairly large table to set out the books and other reference materials. Make sure there are no other distractions like television, mobile phones, etc. and that it is a fairly quiet place in the house.

Role model discipline & structure
While your child is doing her homework you could sit with her and use this time to finish your own pending work as well. Showing by example that even if the task is not very interesting it has to be done. Discuss how things work in office and how important it is to do your own research. If you don't like bringing work home, use this time to read up something or update your bank records, balance pass books etc. This way you will be available for guidance but at the same time not involve yourself intensely with her homework.

Be aware of the school's expectations of homework
While all schools may not have a specific homework policy you, could still check with your child's teachers about their expectations. Check how involved they want you to be and any other specific guidelines. Sometimes the school's teaching techniques may be different from yours and you may end up confusing the child. You could also use the PTA forum to address these issues if the school allows it.

Help your child develop higher order thinking
Homework is meant to review and revise what the child has learnt and check how well they have grasped the concepts. You can help them brainstorm for ideas, get more information and help them analyse their work. Ask open ended questions about how they arrived at the answers and maybe explore if there are alternative ways to answer the questions. Help them develop an independent working style and encourage them to think about different perspectives. If she has to work on a project, help her make a plan about timelines and materials required but don't do the project for her. You could guide her about how to access additional resources to make her work more comprehensive. Teach her to take pride in her work.

Let them take responsibility for their work
Many a time we are as anxious as our children about marks and grades. While this may be important, if your child decides to do his work in the last minute or is unable to finish his work despite your reminding him to, do not attempt to bail him out. Allow him to face the consequences of his actions and take responsibility. If you keep rescuing him you are depriving him of learning essential life skills like time management, problem solving skills and owning up for their mistakes.

So helping with homework does not mean solving problems for him but teaching him problem-solving skills. You can be supportive and take active interest but not interfere. Be there to motivate, encourage and address their doubts. Sure be a cheerleader but don't play the game on their behalf!

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