5 Productive Ways for Parents to Help with School Work

Recent studies show that Australian parents spend less time helping their kids with homework than the global average.

But is this necessarily a bad thing?

The average Australian parents are dedicating 4.4 hours a week to homework help…

Which is a figure that shouldn’t be scoffed at.

But it does pale in comparison to the commitment hours of other countries…

With the average hours hovering around the 6.7 a week mark.

Federal Minister for Education Simon Birmingham has appealed to parents to do more to address Australian students performance in maths, literacy and science assessments.

But is helping with homework really the key?

You can help your kids to learn more, study effectively and engage with materials in other ways…

Try to focus on these methods of helping your kids succeed at school.

  1. Quality over quantity. 

The hours you spend helping your kids are not a reflection of how much you’re helping them.

In fact, some of the world’s best performers in education standards have the lowest levels of parental help…

Finnish parents, for example, help their kids with school work for 3.1 hours a week – one of the lowest figures in the study.

And education experts think Australia’s relatively low level of parental intervention is a good thing!

Professor Debra Hayes says that the results of the survey ‘reflect well on Australian parents and reflect well on teachers that they’re setting the kind of homework that doesn’t require the whole family to be involved’.

So don’t work on increasing the hours you put in…

Work on getting the most out of them!

And you can do that by helping through…

2. Assistance over answers. 

In a post from our archives, we suggested why parents shouldn’t be helping kids with their homework.

If you help your kids to find answers to questions or to complete their tasks…

You’re stopping them from improving their own problem solving and research skills.

And as Professor Hayes said – teachers are assigning students work that they know and expect they can complete on their own.

If you do part or all of the work for them, you’re sending the message that you don’t think they’re up for the challenge.

This can lower their confidence in their abilities…

And decrease their motivational levels, because they know they can rely on you to help them get the work done.

Instead of giving answers, ask questions.

Guide them in the right direction, but don’t show them the way.

They’ll learn more, and feel a greater sense of accomplishment, if they figure things out for themselves.

Speaking of which, remember to focus on…

3. Learning over results. 

Remember, and remind your kids, of the real reason they go to school…

It’s not to get good grades, or to top the class, or to win awards – it’s to learn.

Help your kids to value the privilege of learning.

Encourage them to pursue their passions, whether they’re naturally good at them or not…

Talk to them about subjects they may not be naturally interested in, and make them relevant, so they know that they are valuable and worth learning…

And take the pressure off the end game, and put value back into the process

So that they can enjoy and relish in the process of learning — and excel at it!

4. Balance over excess. 

Out of school time shouldn’t be dominated by homework and study.

Kids need time to unwind, to play, to relax and to engage in activities that interest them outside of their school curriculum.

For young children, play time is an incredibly important part of learning. 

And for older kids, a balanced lifestyle – including socialising, personal leisure time and physical activity – is key to good mental health

Plus, if children can compartmentalise their homework, getting it done efficiently, and then moving on to other tasks…

They’ll be much less likely to want to avoid it, and won’t feel bogged down by it.

Making study a consistent part of a routine is a great way to develop healthy homework habits.

After a break, snack and some fresh air after school, but before dinner, allows kids to enjoy family time after the fact, and unwind and switch off before bed.

5. Long-term engagement over last-minute cramming. 

The key to effective learning is not mind maps, memorising and note-taking…

It’s engagement with the materials.

So help your children to be interested in the topics they’re learning. 

Find ways to make them relevant or exciting.

Ask them questions about what they’re learning, and help them to think critically about the task at hand.

For young kids, for example, find ways to use maths and science in every day situations.

For older kids, discuss current events and relate them to their studies.

If students can look past the words on the page (or computer) and see how the information relates to their daily lives…

They’ll be much more able to interpret and retain what they learn.

***

Australian parents shouldn’t be worried about how many hours they clock helping their children with study…

Nor should they take full responsibility for their children’s homework.

However, parents DO play a huge role in their children’s learning…

And with a little focus, and a lot of talking, you can help your kids with school without even trying.

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