Do your research
Some schools post the term's topics on their website - take a look and see if there’s anything your child might be especially excited about that you can explore at home. There might even be local places you could visit together that would tie in with what’s happening at school.
Set them up for success
If you can, allocating dedicated space for homework - a clear desk or table where they can sit comfortably - is a good way to get kids motivated. Make sure they have access to any books or stationery they need and that there are minimal distractions or background noise during homework time. Some families like to set up a special routine for homework night, perhaps something nice that you’ll do together afterwards to wind down before bedtime.
Top tip: Taking time to relax and having the skills to calm themselves down when they need to is just as important as time spent doing homework. Read seven techniques for helping kids keep calm.
Watch out for worries
Keep an eye out for signs that your child isn’t coping; for example if they seem anxious, stressed or irritable, especially when it’s time to do homework. Make sure they know they can talk to you about anything that’s worrying them. Primary school homework isn’t intended to cause problems at home (and is often optional) so use your own judgement to decide what your little one can and can’t handle.
Top tip: Make sure you know your school’s policy around completing homework, and how it will be acknowledged or assessed. This will mean you’re better equipped to make a call about what your child does and when.
Get the balance right
It’s great to be able to help your little ones with homework when they need it, but it’s also important to know when to step back and let them try things themselves. Try to not just give them answers, but help them devise ways to figure things out for themselves. If they ask how to do something, ask them how they think they should do it, and try to help them realise that they already have the tools they need. Let them discover that it’s okay to make mistakes in the process.
Top tip: Talking generally about what they’re learning and the things they’re interested in – and listening carefully to their responses – shows kids that you’re taking them seriously, and will help them feel confident about themselves and what they know.
Praise effort rather than achievement
Think about the language you use when giving praise. Instead of telling kids that they’re really smart, or that they’re great at maths, focus on the fact they’ve worked really hard or talk about the approach they took.
Top tip: praising children in this way helps develop a growth mindset and teach them that they can improve through practice and effort – which can help make kids more resilient for life.