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Handy tips to help your child with homework: Secondary

In secondary school, your child can start taking more responsibility for managing their own time and workload. Here are our top tips for helping your child with homework as they progress through secondary school.

Help with organisation

Juggling the demands of different subjects in secondary school can be a challenge for lots of children. Not only do they have more subject teachers giving them homework, but the volume of work has probably increased. Most schools provide students with a homework planner, but it can also help to get a calendar for use at home. 

  • Involve your child with choosing or decorating their own calendar, since they will be responsible for it. Stickers, photos and coloured markers will personalise it 
  •  While the homework planner gives them the information they need to complete the work, the calendar tells them when they are going to do it. The most useful ones have daily squares that are big enough to write in (you’ll want enough space for any after-school activities as well as the daily homework tasks). 
  • Put the calendar somewhere visible and easy to access; ideally by their work-space or somewhere central like the kitchen fridge. 
  • Make it a habit for your child to check the calendar each day and update it.
  • With practice your child should be able to plot out which subject will be done on each day by themselves. If they are in need of a little help in the beginning, you could try a daily 5 minute planning session where you go through tasks and deadlines together.
  • Having work written out on the calendar becomes particularly useful as your child gets older. You’ll be able to see exactly how much work they are being set and when it is due. Sometimes a gentle nudge of ‘how did you get on with that geography essay?’ can act as the little reminder they might need to get work completed.
  • Why not use some sticky notes to leave messages of encouragement on their calendar once in a while? Just a note to say ‘It’s spag bol for dinner’ might be motivation enough! Plus, surprise notes will give them even more reason to check the calendar each day.

Provide a clear work area

  • Ensure the place your child is going to work is well-lit, with space to spread out their things, and that stationary items are close to hand.
  • Your child will need somewhere to work that is free from unhelpful distractions. It is best to avoid having phones/tablets in the same space entirely, as they’re too much of a temptation (though this can be tricky if their homework needs to be completed online). Could you make an agreement to keep all devices in another room during homework time? Perhaps you can make a deal where you agree to do the same with your phone whilst watching TV together. Prove to them you are just as willing to give up your own device to avoid getting distracted!
  • Likewise, avoid rooms where the TV might be on, but if your child likes some background noise they could have the radio playing.
  • Define a space to keep homework and store books. Keep everything in one place - your child (hopefully) can’t lose their textbook whilst at home if their school things are always put away in the same place. Plastic wallets (the thicker envelope-style ones) are really handy for keeping worksheets neat, even whilst being bashed around in a school bag. At home, a big folder with different sections can be useful. If you can, find something your child enjoys using; they might like having their own office-style ‘in-trays’, or holding papers together with big bulldog clips.

Make it routine

Where possible, stick to a routine, but don’t be afraid to change this to meet your child’s needs. When do they work best? Straight after returning home from school? After a snack and a short break? Weekend mornings? If they have an after-school activity, can they still manage to work after dinner? You will know what is feasible (and this is likely to change as your child moves up through school). Whatever you decide, try to keep homework time consistent - children should know that homework is an expected part of their weekly routine.

Give support and encouragement

  • Show that you are interested! This is the best support you can give your child. Rather than leafing through their books in secret after they’ve gone to bed, make a point of showing your interest. Ask if you can have a look at what they are doing, or if they can they tell you about their project over dinner. Talk about how homework was received - did they feel proud of what they handed in? For older children you can offer to proof-read work or suggest places that could be good research sources. 
  • Encourage your child to be responsible for their own learning and ask for help if they need it. If they don’t understand the homework task, could they go and speak to the teacher the next morning? Can they call a classmate and ask them to clarify what the task is? Even though you may want to text another parent yourself, try to stay clear. This could be a lesson learned for your child to write clear notes in the homework planner, for example.
  • Find out how much homework is expected at your child’s level. If you are concerned, you should have regular opportunities to speak to teachers about the workload. If you notice your child is struggling, Parents Evening is a good time to chat to teachers from different subject areas and discuss expectations. If it’s a more immediate issue, can you send a quick email to the teacher? Don’t be afraid to ask for some guidance on how you can support your child at home.


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