Homework. Love it or hate it, it has to be done. So how can you get it done quicker? These hints and tips should help get it done faster and make it a much more fun experience!
1. Make a homework station.
Have everything ready to go - pencils, rulers, erasers, sharpeners - ready to use in one easy to grab location. That way there are no "I can't find a pencil" dramas, and everything can get started quickly. If you have to do homework on a device or laptop, make sure there is a charger handy.
Keep everything together and make it part of homework that everything is put back into its place at the end. Get out dictionaries, grab a mini whiteboard for drafting, have everything ready!
2. It's all in the timing
Kids are exhausted after a day at school and if you've got early risers, first thing in the morning could be the best time to get homework done, while they are fresh and ready to go. I often find that my kids are too tired post-school to do much (and this is particularly true in kindergarten), so capturing them at the time when they are most alert and ready to go can make for a much better outcome.
If the mornings are too crazy and there's no way homework could be done then, it's best to give the kids a quick break when they get home to regroup and refuel before hitting their homework. Keep younger siblings entertained with an activity they love to keep them out of the way.
3. Find some helping hands and make it fun
When your child is in lower primary, cheatsheets with the correct way to write each letter and some common words are a great way to help with homework. They are just little things that help through moments that become a lot harder than they really are.
As they get older, a vocab diary that they add new words to can help with remembering new words. Maths sheets that kids keep track of formulas on can be really helpful too.
Homework by definition generally isn't much fun, but it doesn't mean it has to stay that way. Make sight words out of playdough, do maths sums in kinetic sand, use cars as counters, use uncooked pasta as counters (or cooked if you're up for some mess).
4. Read through everything together
Even with older kids, it's important not to waste time with homework, so the best start to it is to read it together. It's easy to resent homework if you have to do the same task twice because it wasn't read properly the first time.
Break homework into 15 minute tasks, separated by a quick game of something, or a five minute snack break. This way, there is a sense of achievement every 15 minutes, and a chance to regroup and tackle it after a break.
Make sure the task is really clear to the kids and sit with them if they are unsure, as working on something together often means it gets done better and quicker.
5. Go in with a good attitude
Your kids reflect what you say. As soon as your attitude to homework is "this is hard, this is boring, this is a waste of time", your kids will think it too. A good attitude sets the tone and helps the kids to see the value in what they are doing.
And remember: praise, praise, praise is the key to getting things done. A little "Wow, you did that maths really well ... Hey, your handwriting is getting so much neater," goes a long way.
6. Make a plan for a reward
A reward doesn't have to be a physical object, or even anything flash. We try to do homework early in the week, and then intentionally keep one afternoon free later in the week for our reward - a simple play at the park. Sometimes it will be a babyccino instead - or something else that is a good incentive for your child.
Whatever it is has to be sustainable and worth it. From experience, offering rewards that have to be earnt over weeks of doing homework won't work.
Kylie Archer is an ex-teacher who now blogs about kids' food at Kidgredients.