Many parents offer their children support with homework but in doing so often end up just doing it for them. Instead it’s important to think about how you can motivate children so that they willingly solve the problems for themselves, and what level of assistance will actually maximise their learning.
1. Don’t take over
Usually children will only ask for assistance when they are stuck. Often it seems easier to just do the problem for them, but this certainly doesn't help them to learn anything. Next time you have a plea for help, try asking a question such as, “What do you know?” or “What are you trying to find out?” and “What have you done so far?” Quite often actually talking through the problem will provide a prompt for moving forward.
2. Motivate your child
We all know there are many other more enjoyable pastimes for our children than homework that prove an easy distraction. So it’s a good idea to involve children in as many family activities as possible that promote number skills and are enjoyable, too. Easily available ones are dominoes and family card games that involve scoring points in different ways. These enhance children's learning in basic arithmetic and develop important aspects of mathematical thinking, such as working out strategies and reasoning.
3. Try different activities
There are numerous books that have exercises you and your child can do together. However, kids are not always keen to work from books as it can feel very similar to what they’ve been doing at school. So they may find a web-based approach more interesting. An excellent website for maths exercises is NRICH, which covers all key stages from 1 to 6 with interactive problems, games and articles. The answers are included as well as hints, so parents don’t need to worry if they’re a bit rusty themselves!