Homework does not have to be an ugly topic of conversation. If approached with a positive outlook, homework can actually provide an opportunity for parents to form a closer relationship with their children.
Homework provides an opportunity to show interest in your children’s education and to build a stronger relationship with them. But this does not mean parents should ever complete homework for their children. Perhaps read over the task with your children, help them get started and then leave to cook or relax saying that you’ll see them in half an hour to see how they are going. Assume they will be okay. Don’t look anxious.
Being aware of the important pieces of homework your child is completing provides a handy conversation starting point when you see him after school each day. ‘How did the unit summary go?’ ‘What did your teacher think of your draft essay? We’re proud of the work you put into it’
Approached well, homework can help parents shape their children into more confident young people. Confidence is very important for young people. Homework is an opportunity to build up a child’s self-esteem by praising effort rather than results. ‘I am so proud of the way you worked so hard to complete that assignment. You showed real determination. And now you know how to write a bibliography too…’ By pointing out all or any of this, you are showing that you value effort over results. This is an important message for students of all abilities. At some point in their lives, high achievers will invariably come home with a result that is lower than they expected or generally receive. They need to know that their parents will be proud of their efforts and not simply focus on the result. Students who struggle to ever achieve the top scores will also feel better because they know their parents will be proud of them if they try their best.
We care about your education
Showing an interest in your children’s homework demonstrates that you see education as important and take it for granted that they do too. Parents need to give this message to children as early as possible. This is very different to putting pressure on children. The message isn’t that you expect great results and will be disappointed with anything less. The key message is that school is important and doing one’s best is expected and rewarded.
Keeping in the loop
By making it a normal part of daily life to ask about homework and casually follow up with questions to see how teachers graded the quality of the work, parents can quickly see when problems arise. Parents can then calmly help children address issues. ‘Tomorrow, find Mrs X when she is not busy – perhaps straight after school – and ask her how you can improve your answers.’ Or ‘Email your teacher and ask him what you can do to improve your summary next time.’
We care about you
Many children – and most teenagers – will not openly show that they appreciate it when parents show an interest in their homework. But teachers know that almost all children and all teenagers do enjoy knowing that their parents care about them and their progress at school. Knowing how well your children’s homework is going is a perfect way to show you care about them as well as keeping up with how well they are progressing at school.
Students who rush through homework or who forget to do homework arrive at school the next day with a disadvantage. They will feel more stressed in class and less able to contribute to class discussions. If this happens regularly, a young person can quickly fall behind and will clearly not enjoy school and taste success. Everything parents can do to help young people approach homework positively is well worth the effort!