Help with homework

Homework is often revision of what is covered in class. As well as regular weekly homework, your child may have assessments such as assignments or projects with due dates.

Homework tips

A key to success is being organised. To avoid Thursday night meltdowns about incomplete homework, read our Homework tips.

Tips for all ages

These tips are relevant for all students Kindergarten to Year 12.

  • Ask your child about their homework, know what they are learning about and when assignments are due.
  • Use our term assessment planner (DOCX 53.57KB) to record when assessments and exams are scheduled so you can help your child prepare in advance. Make ‘to-do’ lists to spread out the workload.
  • Get into a routine of doing homework at a set time, ideally a little each day.
  • Have a set place where the kids can do their homework, with the equipment they’ll need
    • pens and pencils
    • highlighters
    • scissors
    • glue
    • scrap paper
    • ruler
    • calculator
    • printing paper
    • computer and internet access
    • a printer.
  • Turn mobiles to ‘aeroplane mode’ or off so there are no disruptions.
  • If there’s no set homework, encourage your child to do some reading. For younger kids, it’s great for them to read aloud to you. For older kids, ask them to tell you about what they have been reading.
  • Don’t jump in and give answers, homework is about helping kids become independent learners.
  • Encourage your child to start assignments as soon as they receive them – this will reduce any night-before stress.
  • Your child needs to do their own projects and assignments. There’s no point submitting work done by anyone other than the student. Teachers need to know what students can do independently.
  • If your child is having difficulty with their homework, contact their class teacher for help.

Studying at high school

Once in high school, regular study also becomes important. Study time is completely different to doing set homework.

Students in high school should regularly review work covered in class, summarise key ideas and do additional reading and research on topics, as well as practise tasks such as essays and maths problems.

Suggestions for effective studies

There is no one ‘best’ way to study. Students often find different methods and times to study to suit themselves. The key is regular study, not cramming before a test or exam.

Some suggestions for effective study time include:

  • no mobile device use – no social media, messaging or calls during study time
  • finish any homework for the day before starting study – remember they are separate
  • focus on one topic at a time
  • highlight class notes or handouts
  • prepare summaries in your own words to revise concepts and skills learnt in class
  • draw diagrams, mind maps or brainstorms to show the main ideas and links between them
  • explain a topic or key concept to someone else
  • prepare glossaries of technical language for the topic or course, include examples of appropriate use
  • memorise short quotes
  • read summaries aloud – you can record yourself and play them back while travelling
  • write key concepts on flash cards with an explanation on the back to use for quick recall testing
  • read widely about topics being studied – add any new information or quotes to your summary (remember, when you use words or passages from a source such as a book, article or website you must reference them and use quotation marks).

The best study is active study – not just reading pages and pages of notes but creating summaries and lists, drawing mind maps, practising answering questions, teaching someone else about a topic and so on. Active study helps move content from short-term to long-term memory. When reading over notes, try to read them aloud.

Study timetable

A study timetable can be useful to help high school students plan time each week revising work covered in class.

This is an example of a completed study timetable (DOCX 56.59KB) for a Year 11 student.

Make your own study timetable

  • Download or print our Study timetable (DOCX 52.96KB).
  • Fill in regular activities such as school, sport, part-time jobs and so on. Don’t forget to include meal times and time to travel to activities.
  • Students should discuss how much time to spend studying with their teachers. Older students will be spending 1 to 2 hours on each subject each week. This will increase as they get closer to the HSC.
  • Think about the best time to study. Some kids prefer to get straight into it after the after-school snack, to get it out of the way. Others like to chill before dinner and get into their school work in the evening. Identify the most effective time.
  • Block out chunks of time on the Study timetable to study at the identified most effective times. Some subjects will require more time than others – use the advice of the class teacher. Don’t forget to consider the school timetable when you are creating a study timetable – it might be a bit much to do 2 hours of physics on the same day as a double period. Don’t forget any subjects – even the ‘easiest’ will require revision in Years 11 and 12.
  • Colour code the chunks of time for different subjects.
  • Allow a break of at least 5 to 10 minutes each hour.
  • Trial the study timetable for a fortnight and see if it is realistic. There’s no point having a study timetable that isn’t followed.
  • Be realistic, some days there will be a pile of homework or family events which means a day off study. If your child can stick to their study timetable 70 to 80% of the time, they are on their way to success.

Study bank

An alternative to a study timetable is a study bank. This may be better for senior students who have changing work rosters.

A study bank requires more independence and commitment to studying and therefore a fair bit of supervision to help students keep up with the hours at the start.

Preparing your study bank

  • Students should discuss how much time to spend on each subject with their class teachers.
  • Add up the hours suggested for each subject and that’s the bank. For example, if there are 2 hours of study for English, maths and legal studies; 3 hours for modern history and Japanese but only 1 hour for senior science, the bank will be 13 hours study each week.
  • Start the week on Monday. By the time the student goes to bed on Sunday night, there needs to be a record of the 13 hours of study, across the subjects as identified. Keep track of how the studying is going through the week so there isn’t a mad rush to do it all on Sunday.

If your child can’t plan their own studying to fulfil the suggested hours, using a study timetable may work better.

Barriers to study

Hopefully, the suggestions above will help your child settle into a good study routine. However, there are three common problems to watch out for.

Common barriers to study

  1. Distractions – mobile devices and internet access are the biggest distractions to study. Make the study area a mobile, TV, gaming and internet free zone (unless during that session they are doing research which requires internet access). Consider downloading a social media lockout app or switching on aeroplane mode during study time to prevent interruptions. Also, make sure friends and other family members know not to disturb study time.
  2. Procrastination – students often try to avoid subjects they find difficult, irrelevant or bore them. To help your child, first find out why they are procrastinating. Some tips to deal with procrastination include
    1. ensure they have a set study area with all equipment needed but no mobile devices
    2. break the task down into smaller chunks such as identifying the headings for a summary first through a brainstorm; listing the headings then summarising information for one heading at a time
    3. make a to-do list of tasks they can check off as they finish
    4. monitor their progress and reward each step.
  3. Disorganisation – have a set place for study with all the equipment they’ll need and encourage using calendars, to-do lists and a study timetable.

Summaries

Useful summaries are essential for effective study. When summarising, you pick out the most important information and write it in the shortest way possible, using your own words.

Summaries are not sentences and paragraphs or just re-writing class notes or chapters from textbooks. The goal is to briefly outline the key facts or important ideas from notes, an article, website, chapter or other learning material.

Writing useful summaries

Summaries are often best handwritten and short. They may include:

  • dot points
  • headings and sub-headings
  • abbreviations and symbols
  • diagrams, mind maps or brainstorms
  • quotes
  • highlighting and annotations
  • colour coding – colour can stimulate memory
  • using a student’s own version of shorthand.

Because summaries only include the most relevant and important information, they are helpful when studying for assessment tasks and tests.

For more tips and resources to help your child at home, visit Learning potential.

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