How to create a good homework/life balance

Little girl with stacks of books
School and homework can take up a large portion of every day. In addition, more hours are dedicated to extra-curricular classes after school and at weekends. As much as many children love learning, they need down time too. Camilla Chafer investigates how you can strike a balance.

A love of learning may come naturally to your child but too much and it could be detrimental to their education. Like most of us, children find doing too much of one thing can rapidly become boring or frustrating. So, it is important to find the balance between them enjoying studying and simply enjoying being a kid, whether that means racing around the garden, watching some TV or playing a game purely for the fun of playing it.

In a study conducted by the London University’s Institute of Education, researchers found that homework can cause problems in family life, with rows superseding any educational benefits. The research also found that children can begin to resent the amount of time set for homework in relation to free time.

Guidelines set by the Government recommend, “A good, well organised homework programme helps children and young people to develop the skills and attitudes they will need for successful, independent lifelong learning. Homework supports the development of independent learning skills, so enquiry and investigation are seen as part of the learning process.”

The study also found that the highest achieving schools had pupils who spent more time on learning activities at home. But they also suggest that homework should not get in the way of other clubs, such as sports and music.

The study recommends that every school has a clear homework policy available to parents that set out guidelines as to what is expected, what is manageable and what is educationally beneficial. Knowing what is expected should help you set time apart for homework, play and family time, ensuring that none encroaches on the other so that you can make and maintain a healthy study/life balance for your children.

What can you do to achieve the right balance?

  • Pinpoint exactly how much homework is being allocated from school and discuss how much home time should be allotted to it so it does not feel like a never ending task.
     
  • Be on hand, but not hovering, if your child needs help so that they don’t spend too long in frustration at a task. However, don’t be tempted to get too involved.
     
  • Combine homework with trips to museums, galleries and other places of interest. Children soak up facts and figures and this can benefit topical class work.
     
  • Don’t have an extracurricular activity planned for every day. Let your child know there is free time where they can choose what they do.
     
  • Ensure your child enjoys the classes and activities they take, if they aren’t learning anything or enjoying it, ask yourself if it is worth the time, money and effort.