Managing homework with multiple children at different stages can be tricky. Adding a preschooler in the mix can make for homework sessions to be exhausting and fraught. Regardless of your beliefs on homework, lots of homework given by teachers reinforce key foundational skills that require extra time, practice and maybe even a quiet space that a classroom does not offer.
Here are some simple tips to reduce the stress and increase home learning time
Be stationery smart – Organisation is the key to reducing the whole family going on a full scale search looking for the lost eraser and ruler. Have everything you need to hand and if working with a younger child – have some special books, felts and stickers to keep them engaged and feel as though they are joining the 'big kids'. Check out this inspirational homework work stations https://nz.pinterest.com/explore/kids-workspace/?lp=true
Save your legs. Get all the kids together and set them up at a table or bench. Get them started together and then once ready and everyone knows what they are doing – they can take off to the various areas/desks they need to work at. This will reduce the amount of times you are called to help and another trip down the hall.
Have additional learning tools to hand. Homework sessions require number charts, alphabet cards/charts to support your child's learning. Check out our range at: www.smartarteducation.com
Get your child to read through their homework (if at that stage) and identify what elements they can do by themselves or they need your help with. Set them off independently while you work with someone else.
Spelling lists - use apps such as My Spelling list or Spelling Notebook. Check out the review here https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/my-spelling-test. The apps have the ability to test kids on their personalised list without you having to read out the list. Or record the list on your phone and the kids can play it back. Encourage the kids to mark their own work. A good way of reinforcing proof reading. You could also try getting the kids to test each other – bonus parenting points as it is a helpful way to reinforce turn taking.
Overwhelming homework sheet? – break the sheet into 'do everyday' and then divide the rest up for the rest of the week.
Extra curricular activities getting in the way? Sometimes you have to be creative with your time. Become mobile - do the reader in the car on the way to the activity or during bath times (works best if you hold the book!) One of my children loves showers, so sometimes we put the spelling list or times tables poster up on the outside of the glass and off they go! If waiting for a child to do an activity, find a spot out the way or in the car where you can take on a bit of homework. You may find it easier to do all the homework on the night you have less or no activities.
Chunk it into bitesize pieces – use a timer and work with each child for 10 mins at a time. This can help manage multiple children doing homework children who find it difficult to focus.
Become a morning person – Try doing the homework or reading in the morning. One of my children was too tired after school and the word “reading” or “homework” was enough to start a full scale melt down. They were a totally different person in the morning.
Coffee time – build homework time into a coffee or tea break for you. It can be a good chance to sit down.
Working full time? Most likely you are already awesome at multi tasking. Take advantage of homework slot at after school care and encourage your children to work hard to get through what they can while they are there. Share with them that this is a win/win for everyone.
Younger sibling at daycare? Hit the homework when the youngest is not around so you are not juggling, entertaining or using a screen to distract the younger children.