Homework help – our approach
We aim to make The Study Zone as homely as possible. We never forget that the children come to us instead of going home. There are many games and activities for them to do. We also feed them and go out of our way to get to know them. We try to give them a genuine say in how The Study Zone is run and the things they do.
However, children of this age also have homework to do. We believe that by completing their homework at The Study Zone, before their parents come home from work, children are free to go home for a relaxed evening with their families. When supporting the children with their homework we try to adopt the approach any concerned, involved parent takes when their child is doing homework at home. The only difference (we hope) is that we can avoid the arguments and late night evening stress that homework can bring to a busy household.
So how do we help?
Even though we are based in a school The Study Zone is not like school; we don’t insist on silence, and we want the children to be relaxed, comfortable and whenever possible enjoying their homework. We want to foster independence and self discipline. We show interest in what they are doing, help if asked, ensure the minimum of distraction, encourage them to do their best and check the final result. We use our judgement in deciding when to push for more, ease off a bit, demand an improvement, reward completion etc. This judgement depends on each child, the day they have had and their mood that evening. In most cases this leads to good pieces of complete homework and happy children.
• We don’t do their homework for them; we want them to do it. In the early days this can be a bit of a battle as we refuse to allow them to depend on us for every sum or sentence.
• Those who don’t have homework are encouraged to read for ½ an hour. This should be a pleasurable experience but it also removes the benefits of avoiding homework.
• Sometimes children really struggle with a piece of homework. In this instance we help them but if they still can’t grasp what is required we will talk to parents and write a note (in pencil) to the teacher on the work explaining that the child doesn’t understand the work. We consider it to be important that the teacher knows when a child needs further help to grasp a concept.
• We endeavour to check every child’s homework. Occasionally a piece slips into their school bag or they leave early before we get to see it. Please let us know if you think a piece should have been checked and wasn’t.
• Occasionally children tell us they don’t have homework, that they only have to do…….., or that they mustn’t spend more than X minutes on the piece. If at any time you think or discover from teachers that your child should be doing more or doing their work better please let us know. We do check their planners but we do get caught out from time to time.
• If children leave their homework at home we will often take them back to get it. We allow secondary school children go back to collect it.
Secondary school homework – How to get the best out of The Study Zone.
One of the biggest shocks to the system when children go to secondary school is having to manage their homework. Our experience tells us that our approach does work. Our ‘old timers’ approaching Yr 10 and even Yr 12 seem to have learnt that homework is a necessary evil, best done to a good standard, sooner rather than later. It is also clear that those who keep on top of their homework and complete it fully are making the best progress at school.
Those evenings spent with us during primary school completing seemingly small pieces of homework are habit forming. We find the more time they have spent with us prior to secondary school the easier they find it to adapt. In the same way, the time they spend doing homework with us in years 7-9 of secondary school definitely contributes to a smooth and successful transition to GCSEs.
Our experience tells us that:
• In secondary school it is not possible to save up a week’s homework or a project and do it in one evening. The children need to be realistic about what they can do in one evening at The Study Zone.
• If only doing one or two evenings a week with us it is best to choose evenings which are heavy on homework (we are happy to look for evening swaps a couple of weeks into the term once a pattern has developed).
• If children decide to save a piece of homework to do with us they need to remember to take their books to school even if they don’t have the lesson that day.
• If they have a test coming up our staff are great at helping the children to revise. The children need to tell us as revision isn’t always set as homework. When exams loom we can help. (Some of the results our current secondary children have achieved in ongoing tests show how much they have benefited from our help.)
• The children often forget what their homework is and need to write it carefully in their planners. It is always worth writing some friends' phone numbers in their planners so they can phone them to check what the homework is.
• Some evenings there will only be time to do homework and eat; those that only come one night a week can find this hard as they are keen to participate in other activities. They may start to complain about us; hopefully this will pass when they get good marks for their homework.
• And finally, parents receive quite a lot of information from the secondary schools about their child’s progress and targets. By sharing this information with us we are much more able to support your child. Targets, exam timetables and progress reports are all useful to us and are kept confidential.