Helping with homework

The first time I was given homework at school I was excited by the novelty of it! The novelty very quickly wore off when I realised that my valuable after-school time would be taken up by homework for the rest of my school life and so, like most children, I often tried to give it a miss. This is where parental guidance comes in. It can be hard to strike a balance when helping children with homework - either you leave them to it and it doesn't get done, or you help too much and end up doing it yourself. So how much should you be helping your children?

The government has guidelines about how much homework your child can expect to receive from school, ranging from 1 hour a week for 5-year-olds up to 2.5 hours a day for GCSE level. For younger children, although their homework load is light, they will need more guidance and support. At the earliest stages, teachers encourage parents to read with children, and you may have to help your child understand what's required of them. As they get older, children should be able to work independently but parents should still encourage them to study, without nagging, and provide a studying area that's quiet and has no distractions.

Parents should show an interest in their child's homework to help develop a positive attitude towards learning. But remember that teachers use homework to guage how well their students have understood their lessons. So, if the homework is completed with too much parental support, teachers may wrongly assume that your child needs no extra time on certain subjects. By all means check your child's homework when they complete it, but don't be tempted to correct it and make them redo it - again, the teacher needs to know where your child is making mistakes.

One final tip: it might sound obvious but when your child is doing homework, switch the TV off!