All this talk of New Year’s Resolutions and Spring Cleaning is well and good. But by the time the daffodils are out, energy levels wilt… and all your good intentions have a habit of falling to pieces. But there is a way of brightening up your child’s attitude to work, boosting their confidence and setting a routine in place that will stand the test of time. A sort of academic spring clean. And now is as good a time as any to begin.

  1. Spring clean your child’s room and turf out all the dated baby stuff that’s hanging around. Children grow up so incredibly fast and it is tough to keep up with their changing needs and interests. So have a proper look. Remove any classic annuals – Thomas the Tank Engine, Beatrix Potter box sets – and put them on shelves somewhere else in the house. Invest in a handful of cheap boxes or baskets from IKEA to tidy up any irritating bits that end up on the floor the whole time. Take down any artwork that they have grown out of and remove babyish duvet covers and decor. If now isn’t the moment to shop for more sophisticated accessories, then simply swap for plain bedding and more appropriate stuff you have around the house.
  2. Invest in the biggest desk you can fit comfortably in the space. Place it by a window if at all possible – Ebay and IKEA have some great plain table tops and screw-on legs that give a child masses of space to spread their work out on. Go for a colourful lamp as well and check that the chair height and lighting work well for your child.
  3. Sort out their books and take any they have read to the charity shop. There is a great Oxfam bookstore on Tonbridge High Street. Ask your child to help you arrange books into favourites, fun reads (Wimpy Kid and annuals go in here), non-fiction books etc. and look for gaps. Go online to www.lovereading4schools where you will find reading lists by year group and the first chapter of each one available to download. Choose some great new books for a kindle, or buy and arrange in baskets or on shelves.
  4. Go through your child’s weekly homework timetable and sit down with them. Discuss how important down-time and time with friends is and the time of day they find easiest to work. Some children are much better early in the morning before school and others after supper early evening. Although it is a lovely idea to get work done straight after school, it can end in tears if your child is tired after a long day and hasn’t eaten. Create a typed timetable (just type a list if you can’t work excel) and then stick it to the new desk. Aim for short bursts of work and a nightly 5 mins on a speed based maths app and 20 minutes reading together or alone.
  5. If your child is struggling with a particular area of work then address it head-on together. If it’s maths then the App Store is the place to start. 5 minutes a night on number speed tests will hugely boost confidence. If it is reading then take the reading away from them completely. Simply read aloud to them every night and discuss the content. As long as their eyes are on the words all is well.
  6. Shower your child with buckets of praise for their efforts (not their innate ability). The whole time.

If you find the timetable is starting to slip, stay positive. Have a meeting with your child over a cuppa and decide which parts are working and which parts are not. Change the plan, smile, praise and keep going. Best of luck!