‘How do I stop my child arguing about their homework?’ It’s an eternal question. Head of Middle School, Mr Brad Hilliard, gives his top tips for encouraging children to study.
As a parent and educator, this is a topic that can create a great deal of discussion and, for some, a degree of stress. There is conflicting research around the efficacy of homework and if we asked the students in the Middle School whether it should be banned, I believe we would have a majority voting to rid the College of it forever.
Unfortunately for the students, we don’t let them make these decisions!
The fact is, when we talk about why we do homework or study most students end up seeing that there is a good argument for developing these skills.
At Wesley College – like at most schools – we believe homework complements and reinforces classroom learning. It fosters effective lifelong study habits and provides an opportunity for students to be responsible for their own learning.
Like playing a musical instrument, or developing sports skills at training, or even playing computer games, it’s practising that is paramount in improving. And homework should be no different.
I often tell my students that I have homework most nights too: preparing for meetings, answering emails as well as preparing lessons to teach. Many parents would also share the importance of being prepared in their own jobs and I see the habit of homework being linked to this. It’s all part of preparing children for life after school.
From my perspective and experience as an educator, the most successful learners are those that have good study and homework routines.
During my first year as of Head of Middle School, we did a review of homework with staff and students across Years 5 to 8, noting what worked well and what could be improved. As a result, we changed the homework approach for our youngest students in the Middle School to a recommended 25 to 30 minutes per night from Monday to Thursday. This was actually a reduction in the amount of time students were expected to complete homework.
With research clearly linking the amount of time spent reading for pleasure with academic success, we do expect all students to be reading each night.
With our older students, the expectations do change as in both Year 7 as well as Year 8 the curriculum becomes more complex. Extra time is now required to review the day’s learning, as well as time to develop stronger study habits. In Year 7 students can expect to do about an hour so each night Monday to Thursday with Year 8s doing a little more.
This year, the older students from Year 7 up are now able to access the Senior School Study Centre after school up to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday. Students have access to different teachers at this time to assist with homework and assist with developing their study habits. The Senior School library is also open each day up to 5.00pm for all students to work independently, borrow books and spend some quality time reading for pleasure.
Our Year 5 and 6 students can also attend Homework Club over the week, with staff their to assist students with their work if required.
Mr Hilliard’s Top Tips
Finally, for parents that are in the process of assisting their child create a good environment at home, my tips for success would include the following:
- Have a place where your child can do homework. A regular place helps with setting the mood and starting the routine
- Try to keep the time the same each day. This can be a challenge for some families with competing activities so a timetable for the week could help in making sure that your child is aware of what they need to commit to over the week.
- Be around when they do homework so you can see how they are going and help if required. If they really get stuck, encourage them to chat with their teacher as getting them into this habit can be a great strength as they get older.
- Don’t do your child’s homework. Helping is okay but you don’t want to assist too much. Remember, get them to chat with their teacher if they are struggling and also know that teachers like seeing mistakes as this is helpful with learning.
- Stay positive about homework and give affirming feedback when they are doing well.
- And finally, keep in touch with the teacher and let them know when things are going well or when they are not. We all have the same goal in assisting the child to work towards their potential. If homework is creating stress and it is becoming a fight, chat with your child’s teacher to see how things can be improved.
And as author, entrepreneur, millionaire and believer of self-discipline Jim Rohn said: “Nothing is more powerful for your future than being a gatherer of good ideas and information. That’s called doing your homework.”
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