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9 homework help tips from real parents

Mother helping son with homework
Does your child struggle to settle down during homework time? Parents share their favourite tips on motivating their children through it and helping them concentrate on tricky concepts.

1. “I used to use sweets to help my daughter with maths. So, hundreds, tens and units were each represented by different coloured sweets, and when she got the sum right, she got a treat!”
Muriel, mum of Renaee, 13 and Remmel, 9

2. “We have a homework chart on the boys’ bedroom wall. If they get three stickers per week (that’s for reading, spellings, and any other homework done over three sessions) they get a reward, which can be sweets or more computer time. The chart also helps jog me into initiating the homework sessions.”
Katriel, mum of Dexter, 9 and Theo, 7

3. “My daughter comes in about 4.45pm, has something to eat and drink and then either goes outside to play or watches a DVD. I think allowing her time to chill before she sits down to do homework is important, as it gives her a chance to relax before she has to sit and do what homework she has.
“Personally, I think making a child do homework the minute they walk through the door isn't helpful, especially if (like my daughter) they have a very long day due to travelling.”
Jacqui, mum of Molly, 11

4. “We’ve written a timetable for my daughter in Year 4. She doesn’t get a lot of homework, but with activities some nights (some of which have their own homework) it helps to remind her that although the hand-in day may seem a long way, away she has to do it tonight because of other commitments. I think it’s good to help her plan ahead rather than have everything be last minute.”
Stephen, dad of Holly, 5 and Charlotte, 8

5. “My eldest is in Year 7 and has trouble getting down to it with her homework, rather than struggling with the content. So, we have the ‘11 minute rule’.  She gets on with it for 11 minutes, and if it has caught her attention well enough to continue, then all is well and good. If not, then she changes to another topic, reads or listens to music, and has another go on the next day. She usually finds that concentrating for those few minutes is enough to remind her of what was discussed in class, and set her on the right path.
“She is supposed to get one hour of homework per day, but it varies so dramatically from one day to the next that it's important she doesn't have a day off in case she gets even more the next night.”
Helen, mum of Mary, 11

6. “My daughter is only little, so she doesn't ‘study’ as such, but we've made a point of giving her a quiet place to sit and read, with plenty of pens, pencils, crayons, paper and free run of the bookshelves. For an older child I think the most crucial thing is a quiet, warm, well-lit place to work, with the things they'll need close at hand. There's no point in setting up a lovely desk space in the child's bedroom, if every dictionary in the house is downstairs, and the pencil sharpener has gone AWOL!”
Sara, mum of two

7. “I've started taking Andrew to a quiet cafe on a Sunday morning so he can 'work', which he thinks is very grown up. It works well for straightforward maths and English assignments, and we both enjoy it.”
Cathy, mum to Andrew, 6

8. “A brightly coloured abacus made addition and subtraction a lot more exciting. A jigsaw map of Britain improved my daughter’s understanding of basic geography. I-spy games in the car have been great in helping her understand phonics and the alphabet. Even snakes and ladders helped her when she was learning to count.”
Rosie, mum of one

9. “I really cringe to see children bringing in school projects that have obviously had a large amount of adult help. It’s much better to have something that's less polished, but is all the child's own work, which helps them learn better. I tend to avoid helping with the actual homework, but I will help with managing their time so that it's not all left until the night before.”
Alison, mum of two

Additional resources

Read more tips from TheSchoolRun on ending homework wars, and tackle subjects you’re not sure about yourself, such as maths.

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