“That is why you do homework. It’s important to have all your ducks in a row before you do something.” - Tim Davis

Homework is an inescapable part of schooling.

Can you avoid it?

In a 2010 article by the Mail and Guardian, the issue of parents complaining about children getting too much homework in South African schools was addressed. The idea proposed by the article was that if parents also did some “homework” while children engage in the homework of their own, the payout would be great. Parents were told via the article to read a newspaper in the presence of children doing homework.

So how can you get the most out of homework?

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Homework for Kids: Contesting Views

As a parent, you need to decide on which side of the fence are you on? Homework has always been a topic associated with pros and cons. While many parents find homework to be a waste of time, other parents question why their children come home with no homework at all. You need to decide if you are willing to see homework as a family bonding activity or are you going to give the term, “homework,” a negative connotation because it hinders family bonding time.

Are you the parent who loves sitting down to assist your child while he or she tackles his or her homework?

How is homework effective?
Your child’s homework should help reinforce what he or she has been studying in class. (Source: tjevans)

Perhaps in order to make your decision as to whether you are for or against homework, you would benefit considerably by understanding why children have to do homework.

So if homework was actually pretty pointless, why do teachers insist on giving children homework to do?

Basically, teachers see homework as a way of getting learners to revisit and readdress the work that was covered in class. In practical subjects like maths, teachers give homework so that learners can revisit a certain mathematical concept learnt by trying out all types of sums that tackle that concept.  It is the simplest way to get learners to be accountable for problem-solving on their own.

Another reason why teachers give homework is so that they can check if learners actually understood what has been taught. In this way, the teacher can assist the learners who did not understand the content of the lesson.

Homework, however, does require the full focus of the learner to be successful. Focus can be obtained through organisational skills.

Planning a set homework time for your child to complete his or her homework is one way of ensuring that your child stays focused during homework time.

Is Homework Important?

“I will not go into a story unprepared. I will do my homework, and that’s something I learnt at a young age.” - Ed Bradley

parent helping daughter with homework on computer
While you can't predict what homework your child will be given, you can help him or her set aside time, so as to manage his or her workload. (Source: Pexels)

The abovementioned quote shows that homework is not just beneficial for school children but tackling homework tasks while at school, prepares you to be able to do homework beyond your schooling years too. So when you look at your child and how he or she organises himself or herself during homework time, remember it says a lot about whether he or she will be organised later in life and in the workplace.

It is advisable for high school students to do some long-term planning to ensure all homework due dates and assignment due dates are met. Perhaps at the start of a new month, high schools students can plot their entire month of homework so that they remain accountable for ensuring that all work gets done.

Again, there is no one shoe fits all type of solution for how all children should tackle something as important as homework. Your role as a parent is to encourage your child to see homework as being beneficial rather than being burdensome.

You need to make sure to reiterate the importance of setting aside time to complete homework tasks and assignments that were given.

Maybe our homework planner can help you to stay abreast of your homework.

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The Importance of a Homework Helper

Do you have a homework planner or homework diary?

Whether, you call it a homework diary or a homework helper, being on top of things is important. Knowing how much homework your child has will allow you to take out some time out during your day or evening to sit with your child while he or she does homework.

We are all for the idea that the best time for children to tackle homework is immediately when they return home from school. Their minds will be functioning well and they will still be in the work mood. However, we understand that many children attend religious classes or other extracurricular classes after school, therefore many children may only be able to start their homework after supper.

The key to making sure the homework process runs smoothly is to avoid encouraging TV time or free play until homework is done. Children (especially younger children) find it harder to leave something as exciting as playing to come in to do homework.

The idea is to set rules: homework first then playtime/television time.

However, you’ll need to look at your home situation. You need to make sure that homework time does not interfere with or coincide with family relaxation time.

For younger children, parents need to be at their children’s back and call should homework-related problems arise that the children cannot tackle.

Decide on the best homework time for all at home, preferably a time where you can sit in the same room as your child doing some sort of “homework” yourself to set the tone for the importance of this time. You also need to make sure you are not doing something too important so that you can easily drop your “homework” to help your child with his or her homework.

Help Your Child See Homework as being Manageable

What if homework takes longer than the time you’ve designated for it?

If your child needs to write a book review in English on a novel, he or she cannot be expected to complete it a night before the due date.

Perhaps this is where you lend a helping hand as a parent.

Look at the task/s your child has been given. Assist him or her to plan what will be done each evening so the homework is not too much and more time-consuming tasks can be allocated enough time for the task to get completed.

Child using coloured pencils in exercise book
Starting with easier tasks can help your child get into the flow before he or she tackles the more challenging parts of their homework. (Source: Pexels)

Spending several hours a night on homework may exhaust the child but spending an hour a night for several days may have a better payoff.

Homework Answers

Not all homework is the same and not all subjects are enjoyed by a child to the same extent. Allow your child to start with the easiest homework first or with the homework in the subject that she or he likes the most.

Once your child is done with the easier tasks, the harder homework will seem less overwhelming as he or she will know that he or she only has that left to do. This is probably where you will need to step in. Sometimes children battle with subjects that they are not particularly fond of.

You can assist by helping them with homework answers only when their attempts at trying the work themselves have turned into perspiration. You may also need to re-explain something that your child doesn’t know.

Many mums and dads can encourage children to complete maths sums by working on the same sum as the child and then checking answers together thereafter.

Keeping on Track

While homework time will always be met with distractions, children need to be reminded about the importance of sticking to a certain homework time.

Playing Play Station games before settling down with homework may cause a delay in the time that homework is being done. Children will then rush through the homework just to get it done or maybe too tired to pay full attention to homework.

Making sure that your child or children start from a young age to keep track of homework will become useful for later studies or for their careers.

Even if your child doesn’t get any unexpected homework or tests to study for, it’s beneficial for him or her to revise work learnt and prepare for exams.

Spending some time during the homework hour to revise concepts that may be tested in the exam or even just the notes that were written down in class will assist in allowing children to feel less overwhelmed during exam time.

girl practising meditation in bedroom
When doing homework, your child should take a 5-minute break every 30 minutes or a 10-minute break every hour. (Source: Pexels)

Revising frequently makes children’s planning to study a breeze.

As it stands, an article in the Mail and Guardian stated that 10 minutes of homework times the grade is how much time should be spent on homework.

Therefore Grade 4 children must be expected to spend 40 minutes per day on homework. This calculation doesn’t always meet reality especially in private schools where children get homework tasks on their Ipads and devices too.

The key thing to remember is allowing your grade 4 children to spend an hour on homework is fine, as long as you encourage him or her to take some breaks in between.

If you are struggling as a parent to set aside time to spend helping with homework or come home too late from work, perhaps consider searching for a homework assisting tutor on the Superprof site. There are hundreds of tutors offering lessons in academic subjects, and you just may find one who will set the precedent as to how homework should be done and when.

Plus many of the Superprof tutors provide the first lesson for free so you can try several different tutors before settling on the best one for your child.

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Laila

Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.