How to help your child with homework

Reading Books

When your child starts school, it is likely that they will be given reading books and perhaps short homework tasks to complete. Many schools ask parents to fill in a reading record where you can write any comments that you would like to share with the teacher. It is important to understand what the teacher is expecting in terms of reading books at home. You may want to ask the teacher how often your child will have the chance to change their reading books and how the teacher will check on their progress in reading. The books your child brings home are likely to be part of a reading scheme of books that increase in difficulty as the child progresses. Reading schemes are often based on phonics, offering children a chance to apply the sounds they have been learning in school. You can expect the books to be peppered with words that do not follow the phonics rules the children are taught, for example 'was' and 'said'. These are often called 'high frequency words' or tricky words. You might want to write out some of these words and stick them up on the fridge, or anywhere where your child can read them frequently.

The level of difficulty of reading scheme books is often indicated by a colour band on the books, your child's teacher will be able to explain this to you. Children in any one class will probably be reading at a range of different levels, so your child may bring home different books to their peers. Children should not feel pressured to move quickly through the reading levels, it is more important to read widely within each level and to ensure children are reading confidently and fluently before moving on to the next level. Your child should also keep reading books they love alongside any reading scheme books. It might help to read the school reading books as homework and then their favourite books for a bedtime story.

Homework Habits

It is important to establish good homework habits early on in a child's school life. A regular time and place to complete homework where your child can be quiet and calm is very important. They should be encouraged to prepare any equipment they might need before they start and they might need to be supported to ensure they understand what they need to do. Where possible, try to complete the homework before it is due back into school, this allows for time to discuss the task with the teacher should your child have any difficulties.

Praise and encouragement is essential to ensure homework doesn't become a chore. Ask your child's teacher if you are unclear about certain approaches to subjects or specific methods being taught in school, especially in mathematics. The effort you put into establishing good homework habits will pay off in the years to come.