Your child comes home shedding their belongings behind them, as they make their way to the kitchen for provisions to fill their hungry bellies. The last thing on their mind to be looking forward to is getting stuck into some Maths homework. So when is the best time and how do you make it exciting and enticing enough for them to be motivated and engaged?
This is the million dollar question for some parents, as in some cases there just isn’t a time when this is likely to be the case. Therefore may I suggest that it does depend on the child’s personality and quite often how they feel about it, when they are least tired and whether they’re more responsive first thing in the morning or after school.
Bear in mind as to when you have the most time to help them and which is more rushed. Ensure you have an area that is free of pedestrian traffic, TV’s, radio’s, tablets, games, phones and other such distracting objects.
Ensure they have everything they need, pens, paper, calculator, laptop, books and what other materials the task requires (in advance). Sit down with them and bookmark some decent websites on what they might need i.e. Stuck on Homework . They will learn from your preparation and take it with them into adulthood!
Take the right approach and be positive. If you talk about never being any good at maths or can’t remember how to do things then this will not be motivating for them, they may even question the relevance, so, they need positive encouragement – ‘you can do it’, and so on! Instead of just labelling it as ‘homework’ try approaching it from the angle of ‘learning’ and understanding, so asking them what they have learnt from this? This will vary according to the type of task of course. Remember not to be the ‘enforcer’, rather more the helper or facilitator which should help lighten the mood a little, and in theory allow them to have a more positive experience.
Allow them autonomy and flexibility in when is best for them to do their homework, let them feel in charge of their own situation rather than railroaded. Sit down and talk to them about it and when they feel it would work best for them, the morning, after school before or after dinner, and suggest a finishing time to allow for a bit of fun time – reading, playing etc. Agree on some homework free times so that they can plan in other things for themselves. At the beginning of each term talk to them about how they are getting on, how they can improve and any support in certain areas that they feel they might need.
Avoid bribery as rather than allowing them to do homework for achievement, internal gratification and understanding, they associate it to material rewards. The occasional reward is fine for a big project or achievement but not a regular event to get them to do it in the first place. Reward them by really praising them, in fact praise them whenever they’re doing good (reinforcing the positives), and play a game or spend some quality time with them afterwards that you both enjoy together. However, if homework has become such a problem that you end up in argument or shouting match many days, try and ignore the bad behaviour, again focus on the good, reminding and reinforcing the agreement of their home learning schedule.
Resist the temptation to do their homework for them! It will obviously not do anything to help them, so as I mentioned earlier see yourself as their facilitator and support them with ideas for learning. Allow them to think for themselves, to develop their maths skills relating their interests and real life, and allowing them independence with adequate resources. Get your tools head on – you could use playing cards for solving some maths equations, get them using a clock and thinking about time and numbers, while cutting a pizza you talk about fractions and divisions, ask how long it takes to get to school, quiz them on weights and measurements for ingredients while cooking, planning a journey, choosing a phone package, figure out a new layout in a bedroom, how much water your house uses per day, sing the times tables in their favourite tune and other such maths games to make things more tangible, real and relevant. As the maths level gets harder you may like to learn with them by using Stuckonhomework.com where you can both watch the video lessons, these cover the whole maths curriculum from Key stage 3 to A-Level, to join just go to Stuck on Homework, – Key Stage 3 is completely free! Then if they get stuck they can watch the vids again and again – all of these things encourage independent learning and analytic thinking, a key in my opinion, to understanding maths.
Happy Home Learning!