THE IMPORTANCE OF HOMEWORK EVEN AT A YOUNG AGE AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOUR CHILD
by I Can Read Singapore on 07 Feb 2022
Homework is a bit of a touchy subject for younger learners. We often think about practices that are fun and enjoyable like singing songs, learning the alphabet and playtime before your child goes into primary school. But, we want to share with you how your child can benefit from the structure of homework from a young age.
So, let’s look at the serious benefits of introducing the concept of homework early!
What is the purpose of homework at a young age?
It is somewhat questionable what benefits homework will have for young children as many assume it is unlikely to pay off in the greater learning of a young child.
However, many teachers vouch for homework in the early kindergarten years as a way of socialising kids into a school environment. The crux of the idea is that the students should get used to homework since it will be a natural aspect of their learning at school. Hence, starting them early will give them the idea of what can be expected once they reach the more formal level of schooling. The learning value of this concept will acclimatise your child into what to expect as a student. With the right introduction to the concept, young kids can come to actually enjoy homework. Setting up a routine of doing their homework when they get home sets them up for the future.
How much homework is appropriate?
Some of the biggest arguments against homework at a young age tend to be linked to whether the amount of homework is the right amount or is appropriate. It has been suggested that ten minutes of homework corresponding to the kindergarten level the child is in is ideal and is in good alignment with research. That means in grade 1, kids would do 10 minutes of homework per night, in second grade it would be 20, third grade 30 and so on.
While not all parents and kids may be willing to commit to the practice, homework is beneficial to kids at some level. There’s no point holding back something beneficial just because not everyone will or can take advantage of it!
Parents can play a big role too
While we love to see kids participate in class and learn to enjoy the process of homework, this often requires parents to play an integral part of the process.
We’ve already talked about homework as not just being a learning tool but a practice of responsibility. In fact, at such a young age, focusing on your child’s behaviour and response to structure is definitely more important than the actual practice of doing homework content. Things may not always go as planned when structured homework practice is out in place. There may be instances where your child just cannot accomplish the work assigned due to lack of understanding or just a lack of motivation to do it. In those cases, it is actually best to allow your child time away from having to do the homework. This strategic break will allow your child to distract themselves positively from what they were uncertain of or unwilling to do at the initial stage.
Helping your child to reset their mind and give the homework a fresh effort is very important.
You may also need to help your child manage their uncertainties towards their homework and guide them to do it. It can be managed with your help for the first few questions and then set the expectation of independent effort thereafter. Sometimes children just need a physical presence of a parent to get them through the homework at hand and being the positive motivational figure for them will be crucial in setting up good habits towards homework in general. It also helps a parent to track what subjects and areas of homework your child needs more support in. By developing this proximity of trust and guidance, your child will be more willing to not only do their homework but to do it very well.
When the homework does get too challenging and you notice your child struggling with the foundations of how to attempt the homework, it would be a good idea to engage the teacher in charge so they can guide your child in better methods or strategies for finishing their homework! From a purely academic perspective, the teacher will be able to manage and improve the knowledge of the child to do the homework. Working in partnership with the teacher will only bring out the best in your child!
Don’t do your kid’s homework!
While it may be tempting for you to just simply fill in the answer yourself to spare yourself the hassle of explaining the question or even of showing the method to doing it accurately, it does not set the right tone of expectation you should place on homework. In order to save your child from any embarrassment when they are in class, continually struggling with the way a question should be answered or not being able to manage a topic or idea with accuracy, it can be a lot more beneficial to engage your child in the process of what they need to with guidance, teaching and support.
If your child makes a mistake that they cannot overcome within the expectation of the homework, it is also fine for them to acknowledge they have made a mistake and so they will need to learn how to correct it at school. This also provides teachers with a great opportunity to learn about your child’s areas of weaknesses or knowledge gaps that they can help to patch strategically. It is equally important for your child to be able to reach out to help but know that help does not mean no more effort is needed.
Working through the steps teaches your child the power of being able to ask for help, acknowledge when help is needed and the right strategies to overcome the area of help they had initially will be the best way forward!
What to do if you’re not great at English
Any kind of involvement and support can make a difference in your child’s enthusiasm and effort towards homework. It can be as simple as sitting by their side, looking through a dictionary with them and even keeping track of time for them.
Working through specific homework with positive strategies is most important.
For instance, focusing on practicing sight vocabulary for about 10 minutes per night can have amazing results that speed up your child’s reading development. Setting up a simple reward system to ensure they meet goals and targets set at home will be very useful. This will free-up the parents needs to be specifically involved in the knowledge content and delivery of it but re-emphasise the need for focus, discipline and effort. The standards set at home will develop room for success for the child in class.
The teacher will be able to focus on more complex aspects of reading or practices if the foundation skills are managed through homework practices effectively. As children move up through the school years and levels, homework practice will get easier because children generally can read and write more independently and therefore achieve higher order skill in the classroom.
So, by simply increasing the amount of accountable reading students do for homework, eventually reading and answering questions, reading and preparing discussion notes, reading and writing will naturally develop and create more opportunities of learning for students.
It can help with reading in time
The effectiveness of homework in improving reading achievement depends a lot on age. If the goal is better reading achievement, then a big emphasis on repetitive reading homework might not be such a great choice. Engage your child in the process of reading before getting them to even want to read and practice the skill. Sharing bed time stories, talking about a story before and after reading it, considering character development in the story and appreciating what it is opens up a child to wanting to practice their reading homework.
In all, from the age of 3 and upwards, homework has a fairly consistent impact on achievement — and the payoff tends to increase as students advance through the years. Remember, motivate, encourage and support your child and you will see them embrace the process of homework with great willingness.