For many parents at this time of year, a good New Year Resolution can be some or all of the following
- Getting the kids to do their homework properly and on time
- Getting more involved in my children’s education
- Helping my kids more with their school and homework
- Taking more of an interest in the children’s school work
Any of these sound familiar or like things you would like to achieve in 2017?
But how achievable are they?
Often we make very ambitious resolutions, however well-intentioned but have no idea how to make them happen.
The answer is a plan and some specific actions that take you on the first step of the journey.
Don’t try and do the whole thing in one go. Baby steps to start is best, until you get some momentum and good habits going.
So how do we start with the whole area of homework and getting children motivated to do it?
Studies by London University Institute of Education show that when parents get involved and take an active interest and role in their children’s education, it can be up to six times more effective than just extra classes at school.
So try this 5-step plan for getting homework done and at the same time building motivation and your understanding of what they are doing.
- Create good study habits – Setting a regular pattern and an expectation for when homework will be done is hard to start with. But as with all habits, once it is established it all gets a lot easier. So sit down with the children before they go back to school and discuss the family’s New Year Resolutions. Set out your expectations such as all homework will be done before 5.30pm on at least 3 afternoons a week, when there are no after school activities and by dinner time on the days there are.
- Make sure it is a mutual expectation – if it’s just what they have to do and you make no commitments, then it will have far less impact. As part of the process set out your own New Year Resolution and what they can expect you to do, whether it’s checking their answers every day within half an hour, or doing something else like cutting down on cakes!. Then stick to it if you expect them to stick to theirs,
These first 2 steps show them that you care about them and are interested in what they are doing. And by committing to something yourself that they can see and monitor, you are leading by example.
The next 3 steps focus on how kids make sense of themselves and their environment.
- Show them very clearly that you believe in them. Tell them that you have high expectations and believe that, if they work hard, they can meet them. When this approach was taken by a teacher, 88% of the students in her class she told this to rewrote their assignment and put more effort into rewriting. Of children in the same class, who were simply given feedback, only 33% made this extra effort.
- Teach them that intelligence is flexible, not fixed, and that the brain is like a muscle that grows stronger with effort. This aims to change their mind-sets by showing them that their intelligence can grow through deliberate work and that being dumb is not inevitable
- Get them to write a short list of things that are important and meaningful to them, like spending time with their family and friends. In experiments, children who were asked to write about the most important things in their lives ended up on a very different path from classmates who wrote about neutral topics. Two years later, the students in the first group were earning better grades and were more likely to be on track for college, rather than in remedial classes
So 5 steps for getting the children more effective at doing their homework and getting you more involved. Try them and let us know how you get on.