Updated: Dec 18, 2019
Homework is important, it helps teachers track progress and crucially helps students to fully understand what they’re learning in class. Different teens respond differently to approaches and there’s no one-size-fits-all method. There’s lots of different ways you can support your child, here are a few.
You know your teen is struggling with one of their subjects, so you roll up your sleeves to see if you can help. If you use one of their subjects in your day-to-day work, you think, how hard can a GCSE be? Well, sometimes a parent helping out can be a way for parent and teen to bond over a shared activity. Most of the time though, questions don’t look like they did when you were in school, and it’s not all coming flooding back either. Your stress can rub off on them, which can then make you even more stressed that you haven’t helped them!
This can be very confusing for your child who’s trying to reconcile one method taught at school with your method. If your child needs help, help them identify the areas they don’t understand and make a list of questions to take to a teacher or tutor for extra help.
Parenting can often feel like a full-time military operation, and no army is complete without a strict schedule. So that’s home by 4pm, snack till 4.15pm, Chemistry till 5.15pm and a 45-minute break for dinner. It’s how Britain won the war, and how you’ll win the homework battle, right?
It’s true that structure can really help a teen become more overall organised. But the flipside of enforcing a timetable is that, especially with teens, if they feel too pressured, they’re more likely to push against your clock-watching.
Homework has to be a collaborative approach. The child needs to know you’re there for support if they need you, but in their teens they can start to adopt a more mature attitude towards it with trust. So if they feel that you trust them and support them, they’ll feel empowered to take initiative themselves, and feel more proud once they’ve completed something.
Encouraging and praising your child can be a really effective way to get them to apply themselves. Lots of teens struggle with confidence, and anxiety around schoolwork is one of the biggest blockers to doing their best. Especially as they approach exams, a fear that they’re not good enough or clever enough can stop them from getting their heads down to work at all. It’s of course really distressing as a parent to see your child struggle like this, and it’s easy to feel helpless too.
Try talking about what they anxiety is around. Do they feel unprepared? Is it the quantity, or the nature of the work? By pinpointing the cause of their worry, then together you can work out how to overcome it. If they can tell their classroom or guidance teacher that they’re finding things tricky, their school might also help them find the resources they need to move forward. In any case, reminding your child what they’re good at, what makes them special, and that you support them no matter how they do in exams is a powerful way to give them the confidence they need to face the music (or rather, the homework).
Whatever your homework supervision style, if you’re simply engaging in your child’s learning then you’re halfway there. By valuing their education, you’re showing them that it’s something they should care about too. Mum and dad, you’re doing great!