I can look back on it and laugh now.
Change is overwhelming at the best of times.
“Police request the community respect the privacy of the young people involved.”
If you have children at school, the daily homework struggles are probably something you’re familiar with. The kids come back from school already tired and they would rather do something fun than more studying. They argue, make up excuses and would do anything in their power to avoid the dreaded homework. If you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to end the homework struggles, here are some strategies that will help.
Create a routine
When children know that homework comes every school day at a predictable time, there’s less room for questioning if they should do it today or not. I find it best not to get into homework straight after school. The kids appreciate some time for outdoor play and a snack. It energises them and then they’re ready to do their work.
Make it fun
There’s no need for your children to see homework as something hard. Show them how to have fun with their assignments. For example, when my kids have to write sentences or stories with the words from their spelling lists, I encourage them to make their writing interesting or funny. Even if they resist at first, after I give them a few suggestions, they get into it and turn it into a game.
Let your child take responsibility
From the start of school I’ve made it clear to my children that their homework is their own responsibility. They have a choice to do it or not, but then they will also have to take responsibility for the consequences, for example, “You will have to explain to your teacher why you haven’t done your homework”. So far we’ve been lucky that my children have loved their teachers and just the thought of disappointing them often provides enough motivation.
Address any issues with the school
If you genuinely believe that there’s too much homework, then advocate for your child and let the school know. When enough parents express concern about the amount of homework their kids are getting, the school will take notice.
As with any other parenting issues, ending homework struggles is about being consistent. Create a habit, send a consistent message that your children are in control of their own homework and you’ll notice how the homework routine starts flowing with less effort.
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If your child is starting kindergarten next year, he’s probably just had his orientation day at his new school. How did it go? Did your child leave without hesitation, excited and ready for the next big adventure? Or did he cry and didn’t want to let you go?
Both kinds of behaviour or anything in between are completely normal and they don’t mean that your child is ready (or not) for school. School is a big transition for anyone. Most kids will experience some anxiety, but there are things you can do between now and when school starts to make sure your child gets the best start possible.
Be positive, but not over the top
If you’re worried about school, your child will be worried, too. Instead of sharing your doubts, always talk about school in a positive way, but without too much hype. Don’t make it sound like this is the biggest, most amazing event that will ever happen in your child’s life. Too much of a good thing can be stressful, too.
Get familiar with the school
Walk or drive past the school several times and attend as many orientation days as possible. If there’s a playground at your school, maybe, you can go there for a play in the afternoon. It makes a big difference when the child is coming into a familiar environment associated with previous positive experiences.
Develop social skills
Allow your child to spend time with other kids regularly, so that he can learn to make friends, play together and resolve conflicts. If your child doesn’t go to day care or preschool, organise play dates, join a playgroup or encourage play with other kids at local parks. This way you may meet other kids that will go to the same school and it always helps to have a familiar face around. If your child hasn’t been away from you much, organise for someone else to look after him a few times.
Develop practical skills
Get your child to practice opening and closing his lunch box and drink bottle, get dressed, put on his shoes. Most kindergarten teachers are very gentle and caring, but they have a lot of kids to look after and may not be able to get to everyone, especially if your child is shy and reluctant to ask for help at first.
Reading, writing and numbers
Social and practical skills are far more important than literacy when your child is starting school. It helps if your child can write his name and recognise most of the letters and numbers, but don’t stress about it too much, that’s what kids learn at school. What’s important is to read with your child regularly. It develops his language, teaches your him to pay attention and fosters a love of reading.
Your child may take to school like a duck to water or it may take a while and don’t be distressed if school love doesn’t happen immediately. My daughter is finishing kindergarten now and she was a very reluctant student for the first few months of the year. Recently I asked her what three things make her happy and going to school was the first answer she came up with.
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Classrooms are becoming more and more crowded and kids could really benefit from a bit of outside assistance. Who better to offer it, than their parents, grandparents, aunties or uncles. Rather than having to hire an expensive tutor, there are some great ways to help with their homework. Rather than leave it to a stage where a degree in rocket science is required, sit down with them and give them some guidance.
Firstly, maths can be a torturous topic, yeah? If you catch it early enough, you can help kids with basic addiction, subtraction, division and multiplication. These are the basic building blocks for the rest of their mathematical education. If they are heading into the upper grades, like years 11 and 12; keep reading because I have some tips for you, too.
So, for primary aged kids, instead of sitting them down to hundreds of printed worksheets – which by the way, is what tutors will most likely do – engage them. Go and get some flash cards or play some games. Games are a great learning tool. They will keep the child interested and instead of homework being a chore, it will become a pleasure.
One of the best games around, to teach basic maths skills is Yahtzee. Yep; the dice game. It teaches them all the skills they will need and keeps them entertained. If you don’t want to pay for a set, print a template of the internet and go and buy a set of $2 dice. It’s that easy. Plus, print out a multiplication chart and teach them how it works. As they get older, manipulate the game and make up your own score sheets.
The concept of engaging the child, applies to any subject. Make education fun or at least interesting and increase their exposure. Exposure is key. Remember back to all those posters on the wall at school? If they are older, think out side the box and find ways to relate what they need to learn, to real life situations. There’s tonnes of stuff on the internet to help you grasp the concepts, kids are learning.
A third thing you can do, for all ages, is computer games. Now, you might be thinking, kids spend way too much time on the computer; but it really is an excellent tool for education. Educational games have been created for kindergarten aged kids to adults. Check out which ones are the most valuable; even if they need to be paid for. It will still cost significantly less than a tutor. Some kids play these games at school and may have access to certain accounts already. All you’ll need to do, is download them and watch the magic happen! Sit with them and talk about what they are learning. Increase the challenge as they progress and remember to review what they have learnt.
Lastly, be approachable and be realistic with expectations. When a child needs help with their school work; don’t send them away without some guidance. This is predominately, all which should be offered. Don’t take over and hijack their work. It’s about learning, not perfection.