Taking the hassle out of homework

esley is an educational psychologist with nineteen years’ experience of working with teachers, children and young people to maximise educational progress and promote wellbeing. Lesley has expertise in a range of assessment techniques which enable her to identify strengths in cognition and learning. She is also able to help develop interventions to, for example: build on basic skills of literacy and numeracy; promote appropriate behaviour; build on social skills; and help staff to adapt to individual learning styles. Lesley believes in committing to finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems. For individual advice you can contact Lesley direct at: www.greatvine.com/lesley-carr
Speak to me on 0906 194 9615 £1.53/min from a BT landline; calls from mobiles and other networks may vary

My daughter has been diagnosed with dyslexia. What strategies can I use to support her learning at home?

Find out exactly how dyslexia is affecting your child. Reading, spelling, writing, or any combination of these could be affected, so approaches used must be individualised.
Here are some general suggestions:

  • Secure your child’s attention before speaking. Simplify or repeat instructions if necessary;
  • Give an overview of new material and summarise what has been achieved when it is finished. Ask if everything has gone to plan and, if not, talk with your child about what happened;
  •  Encourage your child to think aloud when working so that you get an idea of how she is learning and where the challenges lie; 
  •  Use multi-sensory approaches to promote the best learning experience.  Encourage her to use information gained through: images (visual cues); sound (auditory cues); movement (kinaesthetic cues) and touch (tactile cues). Children often learn more effectively through looking, listening, moving and touching:
  •  Encourage handwriting practice, but if she is reluctant or struggles with the mechanics of writing, use a keyboarding programme to help develop crucial typing skills;
  •  Children with dyslexia often have difficulty remembering instruction.  Talk with her teacher – a  ‘homework diary’ can be effective;
  •  Praise effort, recognise hard work.  Children with dyslexia may not get as much intrinsic satisfaction from their work as other children.  They must know that their effort is appreciated regardless of their rate of progress;
  • Recognise the need for rest and relaxation after school;
  •  If sessions are enjoyable your child will want to do more. This will build self-esteem and confidence. Provide many opportunities to demonstrate her strengths and do not dwell on her difficulties. 

My son has just started to receive homework and finds it difficult to settle down and do work at home. How can I help him stay focused?

Give him a chance to relax and have a drink and snack after he gets home.  Show that you are interested in what he has to do by listening carefully as he explains the homework. This will let you know if he has fully understood the task. When children start homework, governmental guidelines suggest that, in Years 1 and 2, children should spend about an hour a week on homework. The saying “little and often” is a good rule when children first start homework, so don’t expect him to stay engaged for more than 10 minutes per evening. You could use a sand timer to show him how long he will be working. Turn the TV off and find somewhere quiet to work together.  If there are other children in the house, they must respect the time slot that has been set aside for homework. Always recognise and praise good effort, even if the outcome is not what you expected.  Tell him what you liked about the way he worked and make sure you finish as you started – on a positive note!


I’m worried I am helping my children too much with their homework. How can I be supportive without giving them all of the answers?

I often work with children in school with a learning support assistant present. When they observe sessions, they are often surprised by how much more the children can do with me. One reason is that I allow additional thinking time and do not prompt or help too quickly. I give encouragement, complimenting the child on taking time to look properly at the picture, for example. The difficulty for some parents is that they have such emotional investment in their children doing well that this can cause tension. If the child is struggling with their homework, it is important to talk with their teacher. Seek reassurance that the work is at the right level for your child, then you will feel more confident in allowing them time to think things through and come up with their own responses.

For more expert information visit: www.greatvine.com/lesley-carr