Tips to Make Homework Less Stressful

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Homework: that dark cloud that hangs over many homes.

An age old question: Homework – YES or NO?

I’m a parent and a teacher who believes that homework is important and that it does matter and make a difference. Why then the debate? And why has it become such an issue of late?

Have those against the idea of homework taken the time to ask why have homework in the first place? Are they against homework for the right reasons or has homework become a burden and a chore? Is it interfering with our lifestyles? Has homework changed to such a degree or has society and its’ demands put different pressures on us as adults and parents, allowing us less time to ourselves?

Change is inevitable but with change one can’t let go of what we are ultimately responsible for. Homework is part of being a parent and yes, it ultimately requires sacrifices.

Our attitude towards homework plays a huge part in how our children welcome and perceive it. If it’s seen as a chore you are going to be greeted by opposition, but if your child understands, from a young age, the advantages of homework, half the battle is won.

My child hates homework

So what is the point of homework? Well fundamentally it bridges school and home and serves as a window through which you can observe.

Homework has numerous benefits – but it should be appropriate and beneficial and given in moderation.

How Homework Benefits Your Child

  • Homework reinforces through practice and participation and has been proven to improve scholastic achievement.
  • It is also a time to master the basic academic skills e.g. reading, writing, spelling, Maths.
    Your child learns both responsibility and how to manage time.
  • It is an opportunity for parents to be aware of what their child is learning and to spend positive time with their child enhancing family relationships and developing trust.
  • It is a time to understand and review work learnt in class, therefore reinforcing skills and concepts that have been taught.
  • It teaches your child to work independently.
  • It helps your child to use resources e.g. libraries, the computer, etc. and to seek advice when needed.
  • Your child will learn how to prioritize by planning and developing organisational skills.
  • Homework encourages problem solving and improves thinking and memory.

Why Should Parents Play an Active Role?

  • It helps to evaluate your child’s progress.
  • It gives you the chance to observe e.g. this is the perfect opportunity to pick up on any difficulties your child may have or specific talents.
  • Showing an interest will also build trust and the freedom for your child to ask for advice.
  • Often parental guidance is needed by assisting with an explanation, working through a method, helping to understand a concept, etc.
  • Checking to see if your child’s homework is complete and done effectively is also a vital part of the process of doing homework.
  • With older children there may be the need to edit or offer an opinion, “plant a seed of thought”

It is important to remember that being involved with homework is vital from the very beginning. Even if it only means showing an interest at night if your child is at an aftercare, has an au pair or a childminder, but I advise that you take some time (preferably a routine, scheduled time) over the weekend to do homework. If left too late, during your child’s schooling and you offer to help your child e.g. during high school, they will think that you are just interfering as you haven’t shown an interest before.

Homework help South Africa

The need and how a parent assists with homework will change and develop over time BUT at no time should a parent do their child’s homework for them. This defeats the purpose of homework and benefits no-one. You are there to guide, nurture and encourage.

Like with studying for exams, certain criteria should be put into place to insure that homework is taken seriously.

Important Homework Criteria:

  1. A suitable homework area/space should be permanently available.
  2. TV viewing should be monitored.
  3. There should be a specific homework time – routine is vital.
  4. A homework schedule should be developed and clearly visible.

If the homework given is appropriate and given for the correct reasons it can only be beneficial.

If, however, you are concerned about the volume or content, speak to the teacher. Remember homework is an intersection between home and school and by communicating effectively all parties will benefit.

“SUCCESS is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out”. R. Collier

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About the Author

Adele Keyser has 27 years experience in teaching pre-primary, foundation phase, intermediate-senior phase and adult education. That's 27 years experience in dealing with children (and parents!). Currently teaching in Cape Town, her major focus is building classroom environments that foster healthy self-esteem and help children realise what they're capable of.

17 Comments

  1. Brigitte Hamilton

    It is fine to give homework, but when it last for 3 hours each day, then it is ridiculous. Teachers are not giving enough exercises for the children to do in class as the teachers are barely able to get through the syllabus and therefore, most of the work is completed by the children “as homework”. Children should also have the freedom to play in the afternoon. I think children would be a lot happier and not so stressed.

    Reply
    • Nolungisa

      Homework is such a good idea ?. I like it for it gives me time to understand my boy better. I learned a lot about his day and how he progresses with his school work. Hands up to the person who brought up this idea?.

      Reply
      • Kayleen Olivier

        Dear Nolungisa

        I am so pleased that you see the value in homework if it is administered and controlled correctly. I salute you for being a parent who takes the time (I’m sure with many sacrifices) to spend with your son encouraging him and getting to know him through homework.

        Kind Regards
        Adele

        Reply
    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Brigitte

      Thanks for your message.

      Schooling has become quite demanding on learners (especially on time). The CAPS curriculum is a very content heavy curriculum and with the school day only being so long, to be able to ensure learners get through all the required content, work is sent home. Unfortunately, while play and downtime is vital to a developing mind, getting through the required work in order to pass the year seems to take priority.

      Until the demands of the curriculum change, there may not be much change in the ‘homework’ situation.

      Kayleen 🙂

      Reply
    • Sisanda

      Well said dear parent. I find myself sitting with my son until 21:00. He doesn’t even have time to breath. Sometimes I feel like the teachers want us to do their jobs

      Reply
    • Sisanda

      I agree with you 100%,our kids no longer have time to play because of homework. We find ourswlves sitting for more than 3 hour teaching kids whereas we pay hundreds of thousands on school fees.

      Teachers of now are really taking advantage of this homework thing.

      Reply
  2. Razaanah

    I don’t have a problem with homework but being a working mom and getting home at 17h30 and trying to make supper, homework and getting kids to bed on time is very challenging.

    Reply
    • Beverley Bubb

      I agree with everything you say. Its a challenge everyday in our home especially having lost my husband and our 2 girls father three months ago.

      Reply
  3. Anita

    Hi

    I believe homework is important. I have a son who is grade 5 and I still assist with some of his homework. Is this a problem? I feel if I instill the correct values and habits, as he grows he will learn to continue to work without assist even if you find his own style of working, as long as he realizes “Homework” is important.

    Some advice would be great

    Chayenne

    Reply
  4. Claris

    My child is doing grade 4 and I have been involved in her homework since she was still in pre-school. However, what I have noticed this year is that her homework is not constant, not if its how senior primary is. Its not balanced at all. sometimes she does not get homework at all especially towards exams and after exams. some days she gets up to 6 exercises to do in a day and by the time she finish doing her homework she is too tired to even eat her supper. How do I bring this up with the teacher

    Reply
    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Claris

      Thanks for your message.

      It is fairly common for a learner’s homework load to fluctuate throughout the term. However, if this is something that is troubling you and perhaps interfering with your daughter’s performance, it would be a good step to bring your concerns up with her teacher.

      As we head into the end of Term 2 and start receiving June reports, this would be a great time to contact her teacher and ask to arrange a feedback session. At this session you can discuss your daughter’s exam performance and any other issues that are concerning you (i.e. homework load). Prepare a list of questions regarding your areas of concern before the meeting, this way you will be able to keep on track and ensure all your concerns are addressed. It would also be a good idea to find out what method would work best to stay in contact with them after the meeting, so that any concerns going forward can be dealt with swiftly.

      I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any other questions and we’ll be happy to assist.

      Kayleen 🙂

      Reply
  5. Michelle

    Hi there, my son is in grade 4 and since the beginning of his schooling I have been assisting him with home work. I am a strong believer that school work should be done at school and children should be free to explore their own interests and family time after school. This includes sports, drama, chores, reading and religious activities. Children are at school from 7:45 till 3pm for five days a week, school work should be done and practiced during this time. I am a working mom who finishes work at 5pm, fetches my son at 6pm(thanks to traffic) we get him at 6:30, then it’s a rush to make dinner, shower, do homework and catchup on what happened in his day. I aim to get him in bed by 7:30 because he has to be up by 5:45 this next morning for his lift. There is just no time for homework. I can’t imagine what it is like for families with more than one child.

    Reply
  6. nthapong salminah molekoa

    homework’s are very important specially to our kids.it helps them to focus,responsible and know their work.as parents all we could do is to assist where is possible to our kids.parents please we must help teachers also to build our kids future lets not depend on teacher just because we paying lots of money for school fees yes i do understand but money goes in money goes out, what about our kids future.i know it is not easy to pay thousand of rands. remember education is the key to success.please parents be patient at the end it is our kids and we want the best for them.Big up parents

    Reply
  7. Carmen

    I hate homework full stop

    Reply
  8. Denise Paulse

    I am struggling with my grade 8 grandchild to study EMS seems to be a problem any tips on how I can go about a study programme please I’m desperate.

    Reply

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