parents and schools 3


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The Solution?

 helping your child

Use homework tasks as an opportunity to show your child that you are interested in what they do in school.  


Be positive about homework tasks even if they are not convenient; it is not your child's fault that work has been set on an evening when there was too much to do already.


Try to provide your child with a calm and quiet space to do their homework.


Many schools now offer homework clubs after school where pupils can complete their homework if working at home is a problem.


Don't be afraid to prompt your child if they appear to be making a mistake - such as not being able to read or spell a word correctly.


Research shows that even children in the final years of secondary or high school education, benefit when parents show an interest in their school work - so don't be put off by stroppy teenagers! Their future is too important.


If your child is finding homework tasks too difficult, talk to the school about it on your child's behalf.


If your child is doing something you don't understand, ask them to explain it to you as this will help to consolidate their learning.


Look for ways that you can support your child's understanding of a subject in the home.

As a rule, parents are happier to offer help with 'homework' tasks when their children are at primary/elementary school rather than at secondary/high school.  One of the reasons given for this is that parents believe that the work done by their child should be entirely the work of that child - which to an extent is true - but there are ways that you can support your child's work. If you've read our parental engagement website you will know that just by showing your child that you're interested in what they are doing in school - and talking about homework is an easy way of doing that - you can help your child improve their performance by as much as 25%. So what support can you give without actually doing the work for them?


From the outset, show your child that you are interested in what they do in school by taking time to talk to them about it. If they bring home work or tasks, make sure that time is found to complete them and be positive about the experience. Remember - even if it provides you with a gross inconvenience, the way you react sends a very definite message to your child about their school work. If there is an issue, save it for the teacher, don't give negative vibes to your child.


If the homework requires reading or writing tasks, try to find somewhere quiet where your child can complete the task without distraction. If this cannot be managed in your home, you could talk to the school about homework clubs where children can stay a little longer in school to do the work. However, this should not be used as a 'get-out' clause for parents - show an interest in the work they have done when they get home.


In schools in England and Wales, learning should take place in the classroom, so it would be very hard for people to think that you've 'cheated' in some way by supporting your child with their homework. Homework should support or refresh that learning. Work done at home shouldn't be used by teachers for important assessment grades. Certainly, it does no harm to discuss with your child how they intend to complete the task given. In some cases you might be able to point them in the direction of more information or widen their thinking by discussing issues with them. 


Inevitably, as topics within education change, there will be some things your child is doing that you've never seen before and don't understand. Don't use this as an excuse to switch off. Ask your child to explain it to you - in effect to become your teacher - having to explain something to someone else is an excellent way to reinforce learning.  Above all, be an advocate for your child. Homework is sometimes set to test a child's understanding, so if the homework is presenting a problem for your child, make sure the teacher knows; children are sometimes reluctant to do this and miss out on important learning.




For years,  parents have underestimated how much it helps their child when they show an interest in what they are doing in school. Homework provides you with a window on your child's school work.


No matter what year your child is in, don't be afraid to support their learning at home. Research proves that it has a major benefit on their achievement - regardless of your own education record.


If you are supporting a reading or writing task and your child mis-reads or mis-spells a word, quietly correct them. You can support them further by writing the word out on pieces of paper and sticking them on walls and doors and ask them to read it or spell it out. This technique also works well for learning facts, important dates and vocabulary in foreign languages.


Given the current approach to homework in most schools it is very likely that at some stage your child may be given an unscheduled homework that is impossible to complete because of a pressing family commitment but which your child feels compelled to complete. Keep calm about this and explain that on this occasion the teacher will understand. Do not leave it to the child to deliver the news though. Contact the school asap by email, phone or letter briefly explaining the problem and asking who it would be best to discuss it with. If your child does not understand a homework task, you should also inform the school.