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We’ve all been there – we think we can leave our kids unsupervised to work on their homework, only to come back an hour later and find them on their devices or playing mindlessly in their room.

It’s a challenge.

The purpose of doing homework – beyond, you know, actually learning things – is to develop responsibility and self-discipline, which is hard to do when you’re hovering over their shoulders making sure they’re working.

We’ve tracked down the top tips for getting your children to focus on their assessment, both for primary school and high school students.

Homework tips for primary school

  1. Ask your child about their homework – know what they are learning about, and when their homework tasks are due. If need be, check through their bags to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything (if they’re in the early years of school, they likely will).
  2. Set up an easy-to-read assessment planner in a central location that you and your child use to record when different tasks are due. Making ‘to-do’ lists to spread out the workload will help them prepare in advance.
  3. Get into a routine of doing homework at a set time, ideally a little each day, and have a set place with all of the equipment they’ll need. Have your child help you set up this space so that you cover all bases, and make sure it is free of distractions.
  4. Don’t jump in and give answers – homework is about helping children become independent learners. There’s no point submitting work done by anyone other than them, as their teachers need to know what students can do independently – it’s the best way for planning lessons and additional support, if required.
  5. Encourage your child to start assignments as soon as they receive them to reduce any night-before stress. If they don’t have any homework, have them do some reading during ‘homework time’ instead.

Homework tips for secondary school

  1. Similar to your primary school student’s ‘assessment planner,’ have your teen create a homework plan – this could be on display in their room, or in a personal notebook. A planner is a great way to budget time, especially when they have a number of tasks to complete or a lot of extra-curricular activities. Tell them that if they’re unsure of how long a new assignment should take, they can usually ask their teacher. 
  2. Make sure they start new tasks as soon as possible, particularly if it’s a large assignment – no matter how tempting it is to get the easy stuff out of the way first. With that being said, if your teen feels deflated by a particularly hard assignment, encourage them to go on with easier tasks – they all need to be finished, after all. Remind them about any spare or study periods they have during the day, and that the more they get done at school, the less they need to worry about when they get home.
  3. Set up a homework space away from the rest of the house – this could mean rearranging their room, or creating a new space entirely. Like with your primary school homework area, ensure it is fully-equipped and free from distractions. It’s important your teen doesn’t study on their bed or in a noisy area.
  4. Remember: procrastination typically happens when the brain isn’t being stimulated, which could be the result of them getting stuck on a problem or task. Let them take a 15-minute break every hour or so – unless they’re on a roll – and if you find that they still aren’t focused, see if there’s anything you can help them with.
  5. When a task is finished, put it in the right spot – that may mean their desk, a folder or right back in their school bag. There’s nothing worse than finishing an assignment, only to find you’ve forgotten to bring it to school the day it is due.

Remember, if your child is having difficulty with their homework – whether they are in primary or secondary school – contact their class teacher for help. Even if they are paying attention, studying and doing their homework, some subjects can just be too hard, and a tutor may be your best option.

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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.