- Homework reinforces what your child learns at school.
- Homework gives your child an opportunity to work through learning tasks themselves.
- You can help your child develop good homework habits with everyday activities and games that encourage learning.
What’s happening at school
As your child goes through school, homework will become an everyday experience. Every school has a homework policy. If you haven’t got a copy, check on the school’s website or ask the school to give you a copy. Schools update and amend their homework policy as needed and often or ask for parent comment when they are updating it.
Your child’s school will also advise you of homework expectations and will work with you to establish good homework patterns at home.
In Prep the main homework your child is likely to have will be reading. Indeed, reading will be the focus of your child’s homework for the first three years of school. The more practice your child has in reading, the more confident they’ll become, and the more their reading skills will improve.
Each school sets their own homework so the amount will vary between schools. Some schools expect about 15 minutes of reading each day while other schools may recommend up to 30 minutes a day.
Some schools may include other tasks with reading for your child to do at home. These could include things like memory-based games and other every day activities.
So what more can you do?
Have a routine
Knowing when to allow your child to play and when the best time for reading depends on your family’s routines. It will also depend on your child. Some children enjoy play when they get home from school. It allows them the opportunity to let off steam, to expend any excess energy and gives them a chance to socialise or play with other children before tackling things like reading. Other children may need your attention and the closeness that reading together brings straight after school.
Develop a routine for your child that suits your family and that your child responds to. Children love the stability that routines provide and look forward to things happening at particular times, especially if they enjoy the activity.
Reading with your child
Talk to your child about the books while you are reading them - ask your child what they think will happen next, what is happening in particular pictures, or what they might do if they were a character in the story.
Keep talking about the books after you have finished – ask your child about their favourite picture or part of the story and ask them to explain why they liked this bit. Share your thoughts too.
Help your child to recognise particular letters by pointing to them as you read to them or as they read to you. Clearly say the sound that it makes as you point to the letter. To challenge your child even further, change one letter in a word to make up more words – change ‘say’ to ‘hay’, ‘may’, ‘gay’, ‘ray’. Be as silly as you want, your child will love this.
Use different voices for various characters in the story and point to the words as your child reads along with you. Pretty soon, they will be saying the words with you and will begin to associate the sounds these words make with those written, helping your child learn to read.
Allowing time for your children to play is as important as helping them with their reading. Children need time to be kids; to play. While they are playing they are working out problems, discovering their world or just being themselves.
Some games, like Go fish, a popular card game for kids, requires a good memory. Developing a good memory helps your child to learn. Remembering things can also help them when it comes to learning to read as they have to remember letters, sounds and words in order to read.
Other games you can play that will help your child’s reading involve creating a list of words your child uses or says a lot. These are sometimes called ‘popcorn words’ as they are constantly popping up in your child’s conversation. Create the list with your child’s help and put it up on the fridge. Then, every time your child says the word, place a sticker or a tick next to it. Over the space of a week, see which word or words gets the most stickers or ticks. Now, try to come up with other words that they could use instead and add these to the list. This will help expand your child’s vocabulary and help them easily recognise common words that they use; an important step when learning to read and write.
In previous articles we’ve covered some ideas on using everyday objects and activities to encourage your child’s learning around the home. These activities are also useful in developing good homework habits in your child over time. Some things you can consider include:
- Talking – have conversations with your child about what they did at school.
- Shopping – ask your child to help unpack your grocery shopping, sorting the items into size or weight or colour. See: Who Said Science Can’t Be Fun – Sorting and classifying
- Preparing food – let your child help you measure ingredients when you are preparing dinner or snacks. See: Who Said Science Can’t Be Fun - Measuring
- Collecting things – ask your child to collect things like all the blue socks or red tops from the washing line. See: Getting The Numbers Right.
- Homework expectations – ensuring schools set homework that supports educational requirements for your child
- Homework – Homework is an opportunity for you to participate in your child’s education