parent helping her child with school work

Many schools expect that parents will share books with children from the very start of full-time school. Getting into a routine of reading at home is helpful and sets a pattern, showing how important good literacy skills are.

Reading together

Your child may not be ready to read the words but it’s just as important to talk about the pictures and the story. You can do this in your home language, helping your child to understand what is happening in the story. Some schools also have home language books or dual language books to use at home. Show your child the print and read together in your home language or English. Let them read the words they want to and tell them if they ask you what the words say. Enjoy reading books: make it fun, a special time for being together. 

If you want to learn more about how reading is taught, talk to the school. Some schools have reading workshops for parents or they let parents come into the classroom to see how they do things.

Homework at primary school

As young children move through the early years or infants classes (normally 4, 5, 6 or 7-year-olds), the school may send home something for you to do together. Children may be asked to find photos or other objects at home that can be shared in school. There may be opportunities for parents to visit the class and to help with class outings. The more you can help with the learning of your child, the better your child will do at school.

In the older primary or junior classes (normally 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11 years olds), most schools ask that parents continue to read with their child at home and to help them with homework, for example, some extra work in English, maths or science. In the last year of primary school, doing homework is seen as good preparation for secondary school.

Homework time

It is important to get the balance right. Children should not be spending too much time on homework but they should not be only spending a few minutes on it. You can help your child understand why homework is important and use your first language to explain and support.  Praise your child when they have done something well and put on show any certificates or stickers they receive from school for good work, behaviour or attendance. If you have any worries, speak to school staff. 

Homework at secondary school

At secondary school, homework is usually set following a weekly timetable. Young people at secondary school are expected to work more independently (on their own) than at primary school. Homework tasks may include finishing work started in class or doing extra work like researching information about the topic being studied. The homework policy and topics being studied each term are often on the school website. As a parent you can help by: 

  • making sure your children have a quiet time and space to study
  • giving them the resources needed, e.g. pens and paper, computer, English dictionary, bilingual dictionary or internet access
  • helping them to get into a regular routine
  • making sure they are spending the right amount of time on homework (this could be from 45 minutes when they are younger and to about 2 hours when they are older)
  • talking to your children about learning in their first language 
  • helping them research the internet for first language resources on topics being studied
  • asking if there is anything you can do to help
  • helping them organise their time well
  • giving them support and encouragement
  • reminding them to ask the teacher for help, e.g. borrowing text books, keywords lists, written examples or models
  • encouraging them to go to any study, homework and revision clubs run by the school
  • talking to their form tutor or subject teacher
  • finding resources in the local community (e.g. public library, internet access or homework clubs)
  • planning a day out, visiting a museum, gallery or other place of interest that links with the topic your child is studying
  • reading a good range of books, websites and news stories at home.

Useful websites & links