Should you help your child with their homework? A report featured in The Times today says children do worse if they have help – but that isn’t always true. It depends very much on how you are helping and your child’s age. Here are some tips on how to give the best kind of support to children at primary or prep school:

  1. Provide a quiet place with a clear table or desk to work at. To go the extra mile, resource it with sharpened pencils, a good rollerball pen or two, colouring pencils and a ruler.
  2. Agree with your child the best time to do their homework (it may vary according to clubs and activities in the week) and stick to it where possible.
  3. If you feel your child is tired do consider why – and address the issue by cutting back on a particular club or adjusting the bed time routine.
  4. Have an overview of what has to be done that night. If there is more than one homework, the most challenging or time-consuming should be done first.
  5. Help with layout. Draw tidy margins, encourage neat handwriting.
  6. Remove any homework from your child that has been set as a filler. For instance – you can knock out a poster on your desktop with their help very quickly, or help with wikipedia research. Just make sure the child spends a moment looking at it with you – or briefing you at the start – so that they have some ownership over the final result.
  7. Encourage. Bring warm drinks.
  8. If they are struggling –  try to pinpoint the exact problem. At what point were they happy and at what point did their understanding drop off? Help as little as possible to put them back on track and write a pencil note to the teacher to mark where the input was given.
  9. Praise good presentation, effort and focus.
  10. Know when they should stop. Sometimes teachers set a longer homework than they meant to. It is ok to stop your child when you think they have spent enough time on a piece of work. Write a note in their homework diary in case they are anxious about it.
  11. Don’t talk about the content of the homework once it is finished. Move on!