by Rebecca Brooks
AUK Education Policy Advisor

While schools are closed, many will be using digital platforms to provide students with regular work to complete at home, especially for secondary school aged children.

If, as an adoptive family, you have struggled with homework in the past, the prospect of supporting your child to complete school work day after day may be particularly daunting.

Here are some suggestions that might be helpful as you juggle the requirements of the school with the needs of your family:

  • Remember that although a school day may last for six or seven hours, a considerable portion of that time is used up by lunchtime, breaktime, assemblies, moving between classrooms, settling at the start of a lesson and packing up at the end of a lesson. Do not feel pressured to have your child working for a full school day. Without the potential distraction of other children in the classroom, they may get through more work in less time.
  • Aim to distance yourself from the work that school may have set, so that you retain your role as a parent, rather than becoming the teacher. You are there for your child, but you have not set the work, and you will not be marking or assessing the work. Emphasise that this work is for the teacher, and your role is to support your child to do what their teacher has requested to the best of your ability.
  • As far as possible, create a calm working area, with all equipment and stationery easily accessible. Looking for pens and pencils can be a considerable source of procrastination, so try to ensure that this is solved before it becomes an issue
  • Build in plenty of down time throughout the day. Depending on your child, it may be best to work in short bursts with planned alternative activities in between. However, if your child is happy to continue working, then go with it.
  • Many of our children work better if they feel that have some control over what is happening. Consider printing out all the set work and then allowing your child to have some say as to when and in what order they will attempt it.
  • If your child is becoming distressed, discouraged or dysregulated, consider leaving the work to one side for a time, or even for the rest of the day. Your child will learn nothing if they are distressed and pushing them to continue in this state will achieve little. It may be that after a snack and a rest, they feel ready to try again.
  • Build in plenty of opportunities for movement, snacks and drinks. If possible, try to get outside at least once each day.
  • Make use of technology and social media. While these are often a mixed blessing, your children will be missing their friends and their social interactions while they are isolated at home, and building in time to communicate may help them to retain some sense of normality. It might even be possible to use technology to create a virtual study session, with your child and a few of their friends attempting the same work at the same time.
  • Something is better than nothing. If you are unlikely to be able to complete all the work the school is sending, then prioritise according to what your child most wants to do, or what seems most important and put the rest to one side. It is better to successfully complete some of the work than to aim too high and achieve nothing in the end.
  • If the work that school has set is posing difficulties, there might be alternative ideas that are still promoting learning but feel less like school. See our article Filling the Time for ideas to build a little bit of learning into every day.
  • At this time of uncertainty and change, everyone is under a lot of pressure and feelings are likely to be running high. Education is important, but the mental and physical wellbeing of your family is more important, and learning is lifelong and not limited to tests and exams. Do what you can to sustain and even improve the relationships within your family even if that means that school work takes a back seat. Let’s aim to come out of the other side of this with our families, our health and our relationships intact.