Making homework a habit and not a chore

IMG_2999We all want our children to make the most of their education. However, when you watch a child diligently putting hours into their revision only to be rewarded with less than remarkable grades or whether you are getting increasingly frustrated as you watch your teen/tween fritter away hours on their phone, iPads or sprawled in front of the TV whilst only putting minimal effort into their studies, it’s not easy knowing what to do.
As a parent we feel helpless, frustrated and at a loss about how to help. You know you should be taking a leadership role, showing them how to study effectively so that their education opens doors for them for the rest of their lives.
But how do you do it? Here’s just a few ideas that I wanted to share with you.

Talk to them

Find the right time to talk them. When everyone is calm and happy (not in the heat of the moment when you’re trying to get homework done, cook the evening meal and deal with urgently washing the P.E. kit all after a day at ‘work work’). Talk to your child about what’s working and what isn’t in their homework and revision schedule. However, don’t start with telling them what you think is going wrong (and spiralling into ‘nag’ mode). But try and ask them what they think is going well and what isn’t going so well and move the discussion on to a positive do-able solution from there.

Establish a routine and a Positive attitude

A positive mindset, habits and routines are fundamental to success. Good habits are behaviour patterns that support success and they are entrenched through routine. Children that start young and are in this regular routine from a young age are most likely to adapt to this sooner and easier. But it’s never too late to implement a routine. Talk to your child about how they would like to schedule their homework/revision routine. However, the routine isn’t just about their studies and completing their homework. It’s about achieving a balanced life, this is so crucial. Get your child to prioritise their interests and leisure activities and make sure they can fit in the things that they most value. If they’re able to enjoy themselves as a reward for their studies, they’ll be more likely to stick with the routine. Vice versa, you can also use this as a ‘ban’ or ‘time out’ from their choices of reward if homework isn’t completed as form of a disciplinary if and when you really need to.

Identify distractions

Again, get your child to identify the biggest distractions to their studies. I’d guess that the top three are their iPad, TV, phone, gaming and some equivalent of Netflix. Instead of nagging them about putting their iPad down, get them to identify ways that they can manage these distractions. If they’re at a loss, suggest things like putting the phone/IPad outside the room while they’re studying, or using a set time for enjoyments and specify a daily set time for focused study sessions.

Work in partnership with your child’s school

Bridging the gap between parents, students and teachers have proven valuable for students. Students respond very well to parents participating in their schooling – whether that’s just being aware of their progress and understanding their achievements, or whether its when parents decide to take a more active role and become involved in the school itself. Either way, greater parental engagement often motivates the child to do well.
But in order to establish and maintain this interest, there needs to be regular and reliable communication and sharing of information between the school and parents. Organise a meeting with your child’s teacher or even Headteacher (if needs be). Get to the bottom of how best to tackle problems/weakness areas. The open communication between all parties will play a big psychological difference for your child. This will put parents in a stronger position to help their child’s learning, and will ensure children get the most out of the education system through a united support network.

Collect feedback

When your child gets feedback on their work, sit with them to read the feedback and read through the work again to identify why the feedback is relevant and talk about how they could have improved their work. Teachers pour hours into marking and there’s a goldmine of information in their comments about how your child can progress. Making a habit of studying and implementing these comments will lead to faster improvement throughout your child’s life.

Encourage their interests

Grab those golden opportunities such as when your child shows a strong interest in something that they’re studying make an effort to encourage that interest. It could be as simple as talking to them about it. You could look it up on the internet with them, take them to the library to get some books on the subject or even plan a day trip that will bring the subject even more to life for them. The key thing here is actively showing your child that you’re interested in what they’re learning and that you care about how much effort they put into their studies.

By showing your interest, support and concern for your child’s achievement at school whilst helping them to take responsibility for their own studies you will decrease the stress of school work and exam season. Work together, have a positive attitude and outlook. Couple this with setting up the good habits outlined in this post and engaging your child in conversation that encourages reflection on their performance will, over time, help your child develop into a better, confident and happier student.

Kavitha Niranjan –
Mother of two
Founder & Director of
Tutorial Ltd, Tutorial Ltd Performing Arts & Music and Little Robins Montessori Nursery & Preschool

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