Unlocking potential: Miss Munro’s homework tips for your little legend

It’s a fun fact of life that the very thing we didn’t enjoy doing as kids – homework – is now something we must ensure our kids do. 

Because with the benefit of wisdom that comes with our years, we now know that homework can be a huge help for reinforcing classroom lessons and knowledge. 

In our Kiwi Parenting Report, we found that 51% of parents actively support their children’s education at home, largely through homework assistance. However, a third (34%) of parents say one of the biggest challenges for doing so is their own lack of knowledge and skills. 

So how can you, as a parent, step into the role of supportive, helpful at-home tutor? As well as sharing a few tips and suggestions of our own, we enlisted the help of Kealan Munro, an Auckland Primary School Teacher. You’ll find her valuable knowledge and advice throughout this piece. 

Creating a positive homework environment 

More than 2 in 3 (68%) parents with children 5 years and older provide them with extra teaching support or aid at home, most commonly involving homework and assignments (51%) according to our Kiwi Parenting Report. This is an integral part of cultivating a good homework space for children – starting from kindy.

As Kealan points out, one of the first times you’ll really talk about homework and supporting your child will be at the early parent-teacher meeting. 

“It’s Meet the Teacher evening at your child’s primary school. You are feeling overwhelmed with all the information their teacher is sharing regarding homework and how to prepare your child for starting school. Where do you start?”

Like anything for first-time parents, there will be an adjustment period as you learn to navigate homework assignments from the other side of the trenches. 

“Making small, but significant adjustments at home will ensure your child has the best start to school,” Kealan explains. 

“A great way to build a positive homework environment is to create a learning space at home with input from your child. Perhaps some comfy cushions and a shelf of books, a little table with some magnetic letters and number puzzles to support their fine-motor skills. When your child sees that education is of value to you and your family, your child will be more inclined to form a positive attitude towards their learning.”

In other words, you don’t need to be doing the work yourself or even always sitting down with your child to support them. Setting up a great area and sharing your positivity around getting it done can be a fantastic first step, and can make homework fast and fun.

Fostering a love for learning 

If you want your child to know how to cook, foster a love of food and preparation with them while they are young. If you want your child to enjoy learning and do well at school, foster a love of education and knowledge. 

One way Kealan suggests achieving this is to “create an environment at home where your child feels that what they do at school is of value to you.” 

While it might not always be obvious, kids tend to want to please their parents. If you can show that school and homework are important to you, they may be more inclined to take on your enthusiasm. 

Another of Kealan’s tips is to clearly show your interest in their schoolwork – this also extends to their homework. 

“Engage yourself with your child’s learning, show interest and ask questions. Read every night. Learning to read has a flow on effect – it supports writing skills, fosters imagination, and improves communication and concentration span,” Kealan explains. 

Like anything with parenting, there’s rarely a quick, singular answer. Fostering a love of learning is just another small step that you can do to help your child with their homework and overall education – especially in the crucial early years. 

Building confidence and independence 

Confidence and independence are excellent life skills for just about any endeavour in life, from travel to job interviews to schoolwork.

“You want your child to go to school each day feeling confident and eager to learn,” explains Kealan. 

One way you can instil these qualities is to exude them yourself. 

“Parents are a child’s ‘first teacher’. The way your child interacts with new challenges and learning comes from you. Demonstrate to your child that mistakes help us learn and it is okay to ask for help,” Kealan suggests. The way in which you tackle homework time – in a positive way, can also make the daily task of homework time for your kids feel fun and enjoyable.

There are also little ways in which you can help to build up these qualities from home. 

“Allow your child to pack their school bag and have them carry it into class. Give your child enough time in the morning to follow the class routines, play and catch up with their friends before the bell goes. All these ‘little things’ support your child in becoming confident and independent at school which in turn creates a thriving child ready to explore the world around them.”

Developing effective homework and study habits 

Routines can be great for children for a variety of reasons, including their study habits. 

It’s believed that routines for kids can help to foster emotional development, regulation and self-management skills. It means they can feel structured and safe, and it creates patterns of behaviours for what happens next each day. 

When it comes to homework, that can mean setting aside the same time every day to work on their studies. It could be as soon as they get home from school, right before dinner, or immediately following dinner. It’ll soon become part of their everyday routine and they will know to expect it.

Whenever it is, the most important part is to set that routine and stick to it every day. Perhaps you can sit down next to them and complete your own life admin tasks during that time to set an example. 

Balancing sport and other activities 

Last but not least, don’t forget that homework and academics aren’t the only point of school. Physical fitness, socialising and the balancing of other activities are all just as important for the development of a happy, healthy child. 

In our Kiwi Parenting Report, just 52% of parents supported their children’s passions and interests – a number that could be a lot higher. 

Sport New Zealand explains that sports and play help to give young people the best possible start in life by encouraging a lifelong love of community sport and being physically active. Play is also key to physical, cognitive and emotional development for young people, the organisation explains. 

It’s always good to keep in mind that there’s more to life than homework. Plus, not every child will thrive in an academic environment, so giving them other outlets can help to show them there are other ways to excel. 

While we’re on the topic of putting things like homework into perspective, one option for parents to consider is life insurance. A life insurance policy can be useful in order to financially protect Kiwi families, helping cover costs should something happen to them – such as a mortgage, or schooling for their little ones in the future. 

Kealan Munro

Kealan Munro

Kealan is an experienced primary school teacher. Having taught for five years she has seen the rapid changes our education system has had to make to cater to the diverse needs and cultures of our society today. She is passionate about working with young children and their families as they transition from early childhood to primary school. Kealan's expertise in child development and education have enabled her to take a critical view of the way we educate our young people so that every child in New Zealand has the chance to be confident, connected, lifelong learners.