Thursday, 29 May 2014

reaching homework goals - the family partnership

A change of schools for Tom this year brought an unexpected challenge - learning a new language.  For the past few years he's studied Japanese at school.  He's now learning Indonesian, with a new set of vocabulary to learn each week.  Mixed in with increased demands for class homework, the language revision was falling by the wayside.

It wasn't until a friend mentioned she'd been testing her son on the latest vocabulary set that it clicked for me - I had a role to play in this as well.  I printed out copies of the worksheets for home and I've created a folder for them.  I've also given Tom a dedicated workbook where he does his nightly revision and can check his progress.

Each school night, I sit down with Tom to test his vocabulary.  We concentrate on that week's set and if time permits, we revise one from a previous week.  He writes down both the English and Indonesian words which we both feel aids his memory - helping him to continually associate both words together.

Over the past couple of months, Tom's lifted his results from low to very high.  His teacher is very happy with his improvement Tom's delighted with his progress.

The takeaway from this for me has been the role that I, as a parent, need to play in my children's learning.  Homework skills are something children need to develop - when they can see, for example, the role regular revision plays in lifting grades, they have instant feedback that what they're doing is making a difference.

Your own experiences and particular skills can help your children - sitting down with your children at night during homework time doesn't mean you're doing the homework for them - it's being a guiding hand and playing your role in their learning partnership.

How does your family approach homework?  Any tips and tricks?


  1. yikes. We are thankfully at a no homework school... The latest research, according to our principal, is that it achieves very little, that kids just need to go home and run around the backyard, bake, have family time etc. (NZ schools, on the whole, do not teach a second language at primary level). I am happy with this. Homework can wait till year 7 in my books. Of course, it goes without saying reading and time tables are just done at home,I cannot do maths, so there is no hope of me ever helping my kids with it and they are taught totally different to how we were anyway.

    1. HI Kimberley, thank you so much for your comment and sorry I've taken so long to get back to you. Homework is a tricky one, for sure, but don't worry - there's still plenty of time for playing and family time - this is just a small part of the night. I do actually support it in the younger years as I can see it becoming a habit for my children. I imagine this makes it less of a shock when they reach high school - think of it as a spinning plate they will already have up in the air… I guess 'guiding' is the word, more than helping… e.g. testing Tom's Indonesian vocab - there's no way I will be learning the language myself!!

  2. Parent engagement = A+ . Good post Lucy, I would love to share this as part of all the feedback on our strategy, shame it is a different school now :)

    1. Well, you know who I have to thank for talking about testing the vocab! But yes, it does help a lot to be engaged - I reckon just rephrasing a question sometimes with the other homework tasks can make all the difference..