How to support your teen with their homework
Nothing is more terrifying for a parent of a teen than bringing up the topic of homework. You have the tricky balance of showing interest and not getting in the way. There is also a balance between accountability and trust to build the habits that will serve them through life. While there is potential for conflict, there is also an opportunity to engage in some of the more positive experiences of parenting. Here we offer some indispensable tips for supporting your teen with their homework.
When your teen comes home from school, make it a habit to discuss the events of the day and what has been asked of them. If you always do this, it is easier to address concerns and upsets regularly. Even if you don’t know anything about the subject your teen is discussing with you, show interest and engage curiously. You might not know the answer, but you are likely to understand how they might find out and break down the problem they have been set.
If you need a prop to help discuss homework, you can use the tools provided by the school. Most schools offer a homework diary or planner that you are asked to sign each week. Make the signing of the journal a set part of the routine and a time when your teen expects you to talk to them about what they are doing. Signing the planner offers a double win, as teachers will appreciate the support provided.
Encourage without controlling
It is a fine art, but the role of the parent of a teenager is to encourage them to take responsibility for the organisation and completion of homework. Encouragement is best served through praise. Rather than congratulating them on the outcome of the homework, praise them for the concentration shown and the commitment to getting it right.
Commenting on the process of doing the homework is more crucial to the continued development of a teenager than too much focus on the quality of the work – leave this bit to the teacher.
Creating the right environment
Getting into good routines needs as much guidance as learning maths, English, and science. Setting up a place where homework is always done is an excellent idea. Having a desk with the right equipment helps your teen see this as something to be taken seriously. As part of your daily routines, if there is also an apparent time to get it done, this would help, too. Discussing timing with your teen and reaching a shared agreement is the best way to get buy-in.
Your child’s school will likely publish a homework timetable, which can usually be found on the school's website or parent portal. During parent consultations, you can also ask about your child's work and ways to support them.
You can also help encourage your teen by learning something yourself. Using the internet to find out some details about the work and encouraging your teen to show even more interest in the subject can help them develop the mindset of a good learner. Often this mindset is more vital to your teen’s future than the subject they happen to be working on at that time.
We all need encouragement and a sense of short-term wins. Doing homework because we must wouldn’t work for us. It is, therefore, unsurprising that teens struggle with the obligation if there is no immediate goal at hand. We can help young people by offering immediate and tangible rewards to motivate them. If homework is completed without fuss, your teen could be given additional time out with friends or time on the games console.
Linking homework with positive reinforcement is a better strategy than linking non-completion with a negative experience. However, there will be times when you will have to make your teen accountable for their lack of application. At these times, as with any issue of consequences, you are consistent and reasonable. Your choice of consequence is always proportional, and so it should be when calling a teen to account for homework. Above all else, avoid lecturing your teen about homework. The more you can encourage homework positively, the better it is for the whole household.
Allow for differences
Not all children are the same. Therefore, your teen might not need a discussion about school when they walk in the door. It might be that your teen is happy to sit on the sofa and get the work done. You know your child better than anyone else, so trust this. Be mindful that there are known routines that work, and apply these where necessary, and if these routines need to be adapted for your child, then so be it.
Also, when allowing for differences, look for your teen’s strengths and acknowledge these. Make sure that you spend as much time showing interest in the hobbies they choose too, as having a hobby is important too.
Homework is given by schools to help your teen develop the habits of independent learning. It is not a means of getting things done that there was not time for in the day; this is a fallacy. The work set each evening is an encouragement to your child to learn the skills and mindset that will help them evolve in life beyond school. So, when you are helping your teen with the homework set, give them this explanation. Most people respond well when they understand the relevance of what they are being asked to do, and the people around them believe in this mission too.
Author: NCC Home Learning
NCC Home Learning is an award-winning education provider with over 25 years experience offering distance learning solutions. To date, they are proud to have delivered quality training to over half a million learners worldwide.