By Dr. Philippa Fabbri

Background and introduction:

As a teacher, I have dished out homework and so understand what homework is and what it’s for, and as a parent, I’ve had to supervise my own children’s homework time. Depending on what the homework was either studying for a test, completing a maths activity or researching for a project… and depending on when (and where) we were doing the homework, it would turn into crying, tantrums, or arguments. And yes, there were some days that I dreaded coming home from work because of what was waiting for me at home.

If this sounds familiar, I do have some advice for you and we’ll discuss 4 different aspects of homework and then how to access the benefits of homework and develop some important habits.


Some of the mistakes that I see parents making (and I was also guilty of this):

We overschedule our kids and then wonder why they are tired and cranky at the end of the day,

  – We try and fit in errands on the way home from school and so delay the homework time to even later,

  – Kids have been sitting at a desk all day at school and now we expect them to sit again for another 2 hours sometimes longer,

  – If kids are on concentration meds for ADHD, those have worn off now and you have the added issue of them being extra hungry and often they want to grab the sugary, high-carb foods which also affect their concentration, and

  – We are also tired after a long day at work and our patience is thin, so we are already walking on “thin” ice.

And now with all those “mistakes” we expect homework to be a breeze, but its often not.

Mindset & Attitude:

Teaching our kids about good habits (and these are based on Stephen Covey’s, “the 7 habits of highly effective people” helps them in the long run, not just while at school. These habits can be applied to homework time.

The first 3 form part of the executive function skills:

–  Be proactive and take responsibility for your life, 

–  Begin with the end in mind and define your mission and goals in life, and

–  Put first things first to prioritize and do the most important things first.

The other 4 are:

– Think win-win and seek mutual benefit,

–  Seek first to understand, then to be understood, 

– Synergize and encourage working together, and 

– Sharpen the saw, where balance is best.

Benefits of HomeworkMethods:

Start by setting the stage and choose a suitable area to do homework depending on what it is that is away from distractions. Time it properly and not when everyone is tired and irritable. Remember, it’s their homework and not yours but view it as spending quality time together doing something worthwhile.

Dr. Gary Chapman’s concept of the “Five Love Languages” helps us understand how individuals give and receive love. How they feel valued and understood . By identifying your child’s primary love language, you can tailor your approach to homework assistance in a way that resonates with them on a deeper level. Here’s how to find and use your child’s love language:

 – Words of Affirmation:

Identify: Does your child thrive on words of encouragement, compliments, and verbal appreciation? Do they light up when you praise their efforts? Application: During homework time, offer words of affirmation. Tell them you believe in their abilities and express your pride in their hard work. Instead of focusing on criticism, provide constructive feedback.

 – Acts of Service:

Identify: Does your child appreciate it when you do things for them, like preparing snacks or organizing their study space? Do they respond positively to your efforts to help them? Application: Prior to homework, create an inviting, organized workspace. Offer assistance when needed but encourage their independence and problem-solving skills. Show that you’re there to support them.

 – Receiving Gifts:

Identify: Does your child respond well to gifts, no matter how small? Do they feel loved and valued when you surprise them with thoughtful tokens of affection? Application: Use small rewards as incentives for completing homework tasks. Occasionally surprise them with educational gifts, like a new book or stationary. Celebrate their achievements with special treats or outings.

–  Quality Time:

Identify: Does your child cherish moments when you spend one-on-one time with them? Do they crave your undivided attention and feel loved when you’re fully present? Application: Set aside dedicated homework time when you can be with your child. Be available for questions and discussions about their work. Make homework a shared activity by working on your tasks nearby.

–  Physical Touch:

Identify: Does your child respond well to physical affection, like hugs, pats on the back, or high-fives? Do they feel comforted when you offer physical gestures? Application: Start and end homework time with a hug or a high-five. When your child faces difficulties, provide reassuring physical contact. Create a warm, supportive atmosphere during study sessions.

–  Benefits of homework:

Remember flexibility and communication. It’s important to note that your child’s love language may evolve over time. Regularly check in with them and ask how they feel most supported during homework. Be willing to adapt your approach accordingly. The key is open and empathetic communication.

Finally, here are some additional things to incorporate if your child is struggling with anything in particular like reading, writing, spelling/phonics or Maths.

Paired reading:

Paired reading is a reading strategy designed to improve your child’s reading skills with the help of a more skilled reader, you or an older peer (the reading partner needs to be patient, encouraging, and has a good understanding of the reading material)

a) Choose reading material that is suitable for your child’s reading level,

b) Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit together,

c) The more skilled reader (the adult or older peer) reads a portion of the text aloud while your child follows along silently. d) Read the same portion together aloud, e) After reading together, encourage your child to read the same portion independently. The reading partner can offer assistance if your child struggles with specific words or concepts.

Paired reading not only enhances reading skills but also fosters a positive reading environment. The supportive interaction with a more skilled reader helps build the child’s confidence, fluency, and comprehension abilities. Regular practice with paired reading can contribute significantly to a child’s overall reading development.

Khan Academy

This is a fabulous source of videos, tutorials, and games for maths and science.


Playing games together like Memory Game – to practice sight words


Making homework time a positive and pleasurable experience for both you, the parent and your children is possible. Understanding your child’s love language and applying it to your homework routine can create a nurturing environment that fosters a love for learning and strengthens the parent-child bond. By showing your support in a way that resonates with them, you can transform homework from a chore into a fulfilling educational journey. Win-win

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