Find the right balance
Find the right balance between overseeing your childrens' homework and doing it for them. You need to support them and guide them without forgetting that they're meant to apply what they're learned and memorised in class.
Get them into good habits
If you can, choose a set hour for homework. Let your kids have a break after school (they've done a full day's work, after all!) but be firm about homework time. Regular habits are the key to success.
Give them the materials they need
Make sure they have everything they need out on the table (pencil case, dictionary, ruler, calculator, highlighters, rubber, etc etc).
Create the right conditions
No noise! Kill the TV (tough luck for brothers and sisters: homework time is more important than TV time!). Get the books and materials they need out and help them organise their work.
- It may not matter what order they work in. Let them start with what they like best.
- Keep an ear out, but keep quiet. Instead of getting irritated with their mistakes, underline them to try and help them understand their mistakes.
- Don't try and play the teacher. You're not trained for it. By all means clarify, explain and instruct, but don't give them another lesson. You'll only confuse them, because they'll already be used to certain teaching methods at school.
- Remember you don't have to stick by their side at all times! Wander off and do something else to keep your distance and let them learn to work alone, without making them feel left to their own devices.
Don't let homework go on for too long
If your child is at primary school, ask the teacher how long he/she should spend on homework and stick to it. Don't try and force something into your child's head if they haven't understood it. It's better to ask the teacher to go over something that's unclear or misunderstood rather than spending hours slaving over homework and turning it into a drama. If it doesn't all get done, it doesn't matter. Just make a note for the teacher in your child's homework book.
Once homework is over, get into the habit of tidying everything away and packing tomorrow's schoolbag. This will help your kids clarify their ideas, organise their thoughts and relax for the rest of the evening...ready to attack next morning's lessons!