10 top tips for helping your child with homework

Helping your child with homework may bring you out in a cold sweat, but parent coach Sue Atkins has some indispensable tips for making homework a positive experience for all of you.

1. Discuss homework

Give your child a chance to talk about their school work if they want to. Even if you know nothing about a particular subject, you can still help just by talking and listening and helping them to find their own answers.

2. Encourage

Help your child take responsibility for organising and doing their homework and never forget to praise them for their hard work or their improved concentration, handwriting or presentation.

3. Use available tools

Many schools have a homework diary or daybook for parents to sign each day, so show your interest, commitment and respect for your child by signing it regularly. This helps you and your child know that their homework is being monitored and also builds up goodwill between yourself and the school.

4. Help your child keep to a routine

Some children prefer to do homework straight after school, whereas others prefer to ‘unwind’ first, or have their meal then do homework later. Let your child decide – but ensure they stick to it.

5. Establish a study zone

It’s very important to try to create a suitable place where your child can do their homework, ideally somewhere with a clear work surface, good lighting and no interruptions. Try to teach younger brothers and sisters not to interrupt when homework is being done.

6. Allow for differences

Children are all different and have different learning styles. Some prefer to study alone, whereas others like to study with friends or family. It’s worth remembering that some children like to work with music on to keep them company, too.

7. Use resources

If there isn’t suitable space in your home for working, try a local library or a homework club if your child’s school offers one. At the library, children can use computers to get on the internet if you don’t have access at home.

8. Get tech savvy

The internet can be great for looking things up and finding out more so encourage your child to become an independent learner and to go the 'extra mile' with their studies.

9. Read together

As a parent you are your child’s first teacher, and one really practical way to help your child to learn is to read together, particularly when your child first starts school. But even as children get older they still love to be read to. Remember to share storytelling duties between both parents, as dads are powerful role models and have a strong influence on their sons’ attitudes to reading. Let them see you and older children reading yourselves, too.

10. Offer rewards

Make homework rewarding by setting up some treats like staying up 10 minutes later, spending 10 minutes extra on the computer, or having a friend round. It can help to keep your child motivated if they need that little extra encouragement from time to time.

For more ideas, have a look at our homework tips from real parents.