When it comes to homework I’m pleased to report that I maintain a fixed veneer of calm and restraint.
Oh man! Who am I kidding! …”Calm and restrained??!’
I always begin with positive, encouraging tones. “I can support my child. It’s my job to support them with their learning”.
And yes, I am indeed this parent for the first 6.3 minutes. If you’re in the room, you may even see me give myself a little knowing nod. A discretionary pat on the back. I’m pretty proud of myself and my accompanying sense of calmness. Oh yes! Go me!
Then it inevitably spirals downhill.
“How long do I actually have to spend doing this? I’ve spent aaaages on it already!”
“Mummy, I can’t find a pencil”
“I’m hungry! I’ll finish it after dinner”
“‘But I can’t carry on as my pencil has broken and I don’t have a sharpener”
“I need a ruler! I don’t have a ruler!” [gets up to wander around the house looking for a ruler, somehow gets distracted by iPad during search. Amazing!]
“How do you spell [insert word they should’ve learned from last week’s spellings]?”
“But I don’t know what to write or where to start”!
“JUST GET ON WITH YOUR HOMEWORK!”, said every parent ever!
At the end of last term I turned to Pinterest for help.
People can critique the inter web as much as they like, but for me I couldn’t parent without. From googling baby-led weaning ideas, to night time tremors, to how to safely remove stones from a toddler’s nose (true…the youngest!), it’s been a best friend. And it hasn’t disappointed with this struggle either.
I began pinning a few ideas. A ‘homework basket’ caught my eye.
So last term I put together a basket each. A one-stop shop for the majority of their homework needs. A basket that would keep them in one fixed position, at a table, for a period of time long enough to complete their work. The items are to be kept in their baskets and only used for homework.
They seemed strangely accommodating. Accepting. Calm even. Dare I say excited by the thought of homework?! They’ve surely surrendered!
I will expel a huge, irritated sigh very soon I’m sure as this basket novelty wears off. And then I’ll be on the hunt for alternative motivational techniques (please message me strategies that work for you. Or just send gin…and chocolate…pronto…in abundance).
But in the very temporary meantime, I’ll enjoy the (semi) calm during homework hour.
Homework basket contents:
- Pens, pencils, eraser, sharpener, ruler, highlighter.
- Water bottle and snack
- Sticky notes
- Sentence starters
- Number Square
A few things are worth a little bit of an accompanying blurb…
I found cheap baskets from Wilkos. Check out other good value stores such as Primark, Home Bargains and large supermarket homeware departments for good value containers. I personalised a wooden heart I had at home (old Christmas decoration) using my trusted Sharpies and glued it to the front of each basket.
Sentence starters – Even writing as an adult, whether it be a report for work or for this blog, I too often find that just getting started is the most difficult part: You know what it is you want to say, but you’re unsure how to even start to get your thoughts together into a coherent sentence. Helpfully, most classrooms have examples of sentence starters posted around the room, so I thought it might be useful to have something similar at home.
With the help of some educational resources I found via Google, I put together some sentence starters for the girls. You can download a copy here Homework sentence starters. I don’t claim any teaching qualifications, so these are just some examples I considered useful.
Number square – Both my girls found number squares immensely helpful throughout KS1 for homework tasks and my youngest (now in Year 3) may continue to find comfort in using a number square for some maths assignments. You can download number squares with various colourful themes from the fabulous Twinkl website. Or feel free to download this simple version I created in Word here, personalise it with your child’s name and stick to some coloured card Number Square Template.
Thinking Putty – When I saw these little tins at the uniform shop till this summer, I was curious. The shop assistant explained the idea behind Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty: a therapeutic putty which aims to help clear the mind while you fiddle around with it, apparently allowing you the space to think about your work. SOLD! I’ll take 2!
Jury is out as to whether this will be a help or a hindrance and distraction. But let’s give it a go! Oh and tip from the lovely shop assistant – avoid the glow in the dark and light-coloured versions as they aren’t as visually cool. I paid £2.99 for each tin, but have since seen an eBay shop stocking them for £1.99, so shop around.
If you’re less of a sucker to marketing than me, then replicate the idea with playdough or even a stressball.
Good luck homework champions! We can do this!