HOMEWORK is an accepted part of every child’s schooling. But in some households it can feel like a never-ending fight to get your children to focus, particularly when your soldier is away or working long hours and there’s only one parent at home. However, it doesn’t have to become a battle. Professor Matt Sanders has some advice:

1. Try to ensure there’s a set, regular time for homework that fits in around your schedule and other commitments such as sport or after-school activities.

2. Homework should come at a time after your child has had a chance to relax after arriving home and before they are allowed to play or watch television.

3. Relaxing immediately after school is as important for children as it is for adults who want to wind down after work. Give your child an afternoon snack and use that time to find out what their homework tasks are, whether they need any special materials for projects, and when it needs to be ready.

4. While children don’t have to have absolute quiet when working, they should have a homework area that has space, is well lit, and is free from obvious distractions.

5. If your child wants your opinion on how good their homework is, don’t feel that you have to make sure the work is perfect before they hand it in. They may feel discouraged if you point out all the spelling and punctuation mistakes. Instead, say something positive and, if you suggest corrections, just choose one or two mistakes.

By being prepared, you can help your child develop positive homework habits, which in turn will reduce the stress for you, your child and the rest of the family.