Why homework matters and what you can do to help

Your child’s first and most important teacher will always be you – the parent. As they start creche or nursery school and make their way through primary and high school, they’ll have new teachers of course. But one will remain constant, and that’s you.

From the point of view of their formal education, homework is an area that most often requires you to step in. Even if your child is older and you can’t help directly with a particular subject, you still play a key role in supporting a good attitude to school and homework.

It’s not unusual for kids and parents to complain that the school gives ‘too much homework’. But the point of homework is to reinforce what’s been taught at school. It requires independence, discipline and practice, which are great habits to support and instil in your child. Your involvement goes a long way to your child excelling at school so it’s always in your child’s interest that you help with or take an interest in their homework.

Here’s how to help with homework

1. Set up a routine
Set a convenient time for you and your child to do homework, whether it’s immediately after school, or later in the evening. This creates a pattern that becomes second nature for both of you to follow.

2. Find a comfortable workspace
Find the quietest place in your home and make that into your homework space – whether it’s a dining room table, a kitchen counter or a bedroom. Try to make the environment as distraction-free as possible. You may have to insist that other family members turn down the TV, for example. Ask them to give the child or children some quiet time to finish their work. Also switch off phones and other devices to help them focus.

3. Set a time limit
Make a set amount of time to complete homework, which creates structure and an end goal. You also don’t want your child to become too tired as this demotivates them and makes it difficult to concentrate.

4. Be patient and supportive
Never expect your child to have all the answers or perfect skills. Instead encourage them and keep in mind that homework is part of their learning and not a test. Use positive language, especially with younger children, such as ‘I know you can do this’, ‘well done’, or ‘good job’. Even if you can’t help directly with a particular subject, you still play a key role in supporting a good attitude to school and homework.

5. Use resources to find answers
If you have Wi-Fi or sufficient data, it’s easy to find answers to certain questions on the internet. But before you Google, first look in your child’s schoolbook, textbook or printed notes that the school hands out, as you can often find the correct answer there.

Images: Getty / Gallo