Below is an outline of some helpful strategies and practical tips for reducing homework issues with your child.
As we all know, the challenges associated with ‘homework time’ vary based on a family’s circumstances and the fact that every child is different and unique in their own way.
However, the advice below is based on the experiences of parents, teachers and children so hopefully some parents might find it useful.
Routine, Consistency and a quiet space
The earlier the better
- A quick snack and straight into it. This helps to avoid the inevitable distractions and tiredness that occurs as the evening progresses.
A homework friendly space:
- Try to have a quiet space available for your child where they do their homework at the same time every day. The space can include a pencil case so they don’t waste time searching for resources.
Ditch the devices!
- Smartphones, tablets, tv etc. are hugely distracting for children. Keeping them out of arms reach will really help your child focus on their homework and get it done much quicker.
Organisation is half the battle
- Talk to your child about what they can do to be more organised with their homework both at home and in school.
How to Help
- Remember your role is not to teach your child new topics during homework time. Homework should be about revising topics already covered in class so it’s all about your child feeling supported.
- Show your child to be well organised and prepared.
- Encourage them to try their best and praise effort as opposed to just the outcome (Carol Dweck, The Growth Mindset).
- Positive reinforcement and parental acknowledgment means a lot to children.
Keep a consistent eye on it
- Check to make sure homework has been completed. If it hasn’t it may be that a topic is too difficult so this should be communicated to the child’s teacher.
Take a breath
- Children feed off our energy so try to stay calm and positive.
Know when it’s time to wave the white flag (temporarily)
- Remember quality is more important than quantity!
- Dr Cathy Vatterott has spent over twenty years studying the topic of homework. One of her conclusions has been that there is no significant correlation between the time a primary school child spends doing homework and academic achievement once a certain amount of time has passed.
- Children’s concentration levels will only sustain so much information after a day at school. This may change at second-level but quality is always more important.
- Sometimes it’s just not worth it. A brief note in the diary explaining to the teacher that your child found the homework difficult can be much more beneficial than spending hours agonising over a piece of work.
How much time should be spent on homework
- Schools will differ on this as there can be a variation on the type of homework been given. The following are general guidelines for primary schools:
– 1st and 2nd: 20 minutes
– 3rd and 4th: 30 minutes
– 5th and 6th: 45 – 60 minutes
Second-level: The recommended times should be printed in your child’s homework journal.
While quality rather than quantity is the key message, these guidelines may be a good indicator for when it’s time to wave the white flag’.
Making a good start with younger children
- Reading and phonological development is the most important area for a child making a good start in school. Spending 10 minutes every evening listening to your child read, practicing sounds, or reading to them can make a significant difference to a child’s early experience of school. There is consistent research demonstrating a strong relationship between a child’s love of reading and overall academic achievement. Try to find books that they enjoy so they will want to read more.
New maths methods
- Some aspects of maths are taught differently than when many parents were in school. Google and YouTube can be your friend here but a simple example from the child’s teacher in a copy can work just as well. Math’s methods are learned over time in school and usually revised regularly so think about it as a long term process.
- You’re not expected to be a Gaeilgoir! A lot of children enjoy the experience of learning new Irish words and phrases ‘with’ their parent.
- The most important thing is to be positive about your child learning the language. Children also love teaching their parent something, so let them teach you a couple of words a week. “Teach once learn twice”
- An online dictionary is always handy (https://www.focloir.ie/) and there will be a few more websites below.
- Unfortunately, many people might not have a space available in their home for homework. In this case homework clubs and local libraries can be useful. A set space is not an absolute necessity as many families just don’t have the option.
The step-up to Second-level
- There is usually quite a lot more homework to be completed when a child reaches second-level. However, this is where good habits developed from an early age can reap dividends.
- It’s also worth noting that homework for some subjects at second-level won’t be due the following day so it can easily pile up. Buying your child a calendar as a visual reminder for when their homework is due can really help overcome this challenge.
- A lot of parents learn Irish along with their child as they progress through the class levels in a Gaelscoil.
- However, i.e. offer a helpful service to parents of children in Gaelscoileanna. This operates 3-5 days a week and allows parents the opportunity to make direct contact with a Gaelgoir who can help them with the homework.
Useful Websites for Parents
The official Department of Education website which provides information for all subjects within the curriculum broken down by class level.
General help with homework nd your child’s learning. Broken down by age which makes it easily accessible.
Includes audio and video content to support parents with literacy difficulties and links to others websites providing more detailed information on specific topics. The site is designed for parents, grandparents and carers of children aged 0 – 12 years.
An interactive learn-to-read website aimed at children who are beginning to read at around 4 to 5 years old.
Developed to help kids learn up to 1,200 vocabulary terms. Based on phonics it uses quizzes, presentations and reviews to help kids remember words from first sounds to more longer and difficult words.
A free website which allows your child to move through maths at their own pace and gain points/virtual prizes as they proceed. Each section includes instructional videos for when your child needs help with a question. Highly recommended!
A simple site which allows children to practice their times tables independently
This website is directly aligned to the Irish primary, Junior Cert and Leaving Cert curriculums (unlike Khan Academy), offering endless practice problems and exercises.
TG4 setup this fantastic website which includes a section for children. The section includes Gaeilge games, cartoons and competitions. The website also includes a number of learning apps to help children experience Gaeilge in a fun and interactive way.
A really popular app for children and adults. Allows for the gradual, daily learning of new vocabulary. This app could be a really nice way for a parent to learn some Gaeilge with their child in only 5 minutes per day.
This website aims to teach the language in a fun and easy way. It includes free podcasts covering a wide range of subjects including likes and dislikes, numbers, days of the week etc. The games, dictionaries and Irish resources are also very good.
An online dictionary is always handy to have to hand.
A parental support resource for parents of children attending Gaelscoileanna.
Letter from the Principal
As we approach the end of another school year, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on Scoil Ghráinne’s accomplishments and express my sincere appreciation for the efforts and contributions of our entire school community