High school homework tips

Although aspects of the homework routine will be familiar from primary school, the volume of your child's homework may start to increase in Year 7.

There are various techniques, resources and tools available to make things easier. It's also important to understand some of the background about the role of homework during this busy period in your child's life.

Teenage student sitting attentively in class.
Image: As children enter their teens, new horizons and experiences inevitably create distractions.

What's different about high school?

There will be some familiar aspects of the homework routine your child knows from primary school, but there will also be some key differences:
  • Children face more distractions as their social and emotional lives become more complex.
  • Anxieties, including about academic performance might become more intense.
  • There is a new requirement for study time distinct from set homework assignments.
  • Subjects like maths can become more challenging, including for parents trying to assist.
  • Students may receive homework from different teachers across multiple subjects.

Denise Tsirigos, English Advisor 7-12, says homework becomes more important as children get older.

"We know homework is even more important for academic development at high school than at primary level," she says.

We also know parent or carer involvement can make a really positive contribution to the outcomes in all areas of learning, including homework.

Coping with distractions at home

As children enter their teens, new horizons and experiences inevitably create distractions, and connected devices are the biggest channel for these to enter the home. A few handy tips:

  • Create a dedicated study area an internet-free zone (unless the session requires online research). Switch off or remove mobiles, TVs and gaming devices.
  • If that?s impractical, consider downloading a social media lockout app or switching on aeroplane mode during study time to prevent interruptions.
  • Make sure friends and other family members know not to disturb homework time.

Staying motivated, organised and engaged

Students often try to avoid subjects they find difficult, irrelevant or boring. Some tips to help deal with procrastination include:

  • Break the task down into smaller chunks: brainstorm to identify headings; list them and summarise relevant information, one at a time.
  • Make a to-do list of tasks they can check off as they finish.
  • Monitor their progress and reward each step.

?Parents and carers can help by providing support and the right environment but ultimately it?s up to students themselves to get the work done, Ms Tsirigos says.

"By the time they reach high school, kids should be developing independent working habits. Homework is partly to refine these."

Nothing saps motivation (or provides a better excuse) than the lack of some vital piece of equipment. Do a stocktake and make sure they have they need in the study area:

  • pens and pencils
  • highlighters
  • scissors
  • glue
  • paper
  • ruler
  • calculator
  • computer, internet and printer only if required.

Confronting doubts, building resilience

If your teen still seems unable to settle down to work, talk about what's on their mind. If they're worried about school performance come up with some strategies to help.

Video - What is your teenager trying to tell you?

Duration - 2:53

What is your teenager trying to tell you

Read the transcript for 'What is your teenager trying to tell you?'.

You could encourage them to set goals and write down the steps to achieve them - making a start on homework as soon as it's set, for example.

Ms Tsirigos says parents and carers should highlight strengths and successes, while also helping their child to see setbacks as a natural part of the learning process.

"There's no need to dwell on mistakes but they shouldn't be totally ignored either. Try to help your teen value them as something they can learn and benefit from," she says.

For specific academic hurdles, you can also encourage them to seek help from school counsellors and teachers. If they're anxious about something else - social situations, for example - counsellors may be helpful as well.

Reachout.com is a great resource with practical support, tools and tips for young people navigating the ups and downs of teenage life. It's useful for parents and carers too.

Staying healthy

Although many students understand the need for regular study, a lot don't realise their physical and mental health are just as important.

This requires:

  • a healthy, balanced diet
  • plenty of water but not coffee (if they must, limit to one per day and not after midday)
  • enough sleep (at least 8 to 10 hours is recommended)
  • exercise and downtime each day.

Video - Three steps to stress-free study

Duration - 2:32

Learning Potential: Three steps to stress-free study

Getting down to work

With the right environment and mindset in place, it's time to start grappling with the content. Once your child has established a working pattern, help them maintain it. Routine builds confidence and improves overall results.

Ms Tsirigos says there's no one 'best' way to work and teens should be encouraged to develop an approach that is effective for them.

Study versus homework

Regular study time is important at high school and it's important to understand this is completely different from set homework.

Study involves regular review of work covered in class, summarising key ideas and practising tasks with additional reading and research.

Taking effective notes

Notes or summaries are essential for effective study and they're also a great way to prepare for tests and assessments.

When summarising, students pick out the most important information and write it in the shortest way possible, using their own words.

Summaries can be in a student's own shorthand and may include:

  • dot points
  • headings and subheadings
  • abbreviations and symbols
  • diagrams, mind maps or brainstorms
  • quotes
  • highlighting and annotations
  • colour coding (colour can stimulate memory).

Help with maths

Maths often becomes more challenging in high school. Here are some tips to encourage your child and help them maintain confidence:

Talk positively, even if you struggled with maths yourself. Don?t give them an excuse to give up ? let them know you believe they can succeed.

Practice works better than anything else. Help identify weaknesses and make a plan to work on them. Their confidence will increase as they see improvements.

Ask about their homework and what they?re learning. They?ll appreciate your interest and feel more motivated.

Reach out to their teacher. They can provide advice and support materials.

ABC Education

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Raising Children Network

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