Most of us need structure in our lives, and the development of that discipline begins in early childhood. From a set bedtime routine, to a daily pattern for learning – having a structure helps children in so many different ways. One of those ways is in creating self-discipline that allows them to learn and retain information.
Having a set time table at school helps children structure their learning, know what resources they need and prepare for the day ahead. School’s support in the development of this structure by using resources like homework journals or reading diaries. This allows children to track what they have to do when, and allows you to keep on top of this as well. Many school’s will ask parent’s to sign this journal to foster that collaboration between teaching staff and parents/ carers.
Between school and home
To some extent, how strictly you do this depends on your child. If you know your child is unlikely to remember to write work down in the first place, please follow this up with teachers. The journal should never be empty – if they say they didn’t get any work then I’m afraid their fibbing or, more generously, misremembering. On the other hand, you may know that your child is perfectly capable of cracking on with their work independently and tracking this yourself is less important. My Dad was very sneaky in his suggestion that he signed a few weeks in advance, so the job was done. He could do this, however, because he completely trusted that I would do the work. This trust came from the fact that he helped establish discipline in early life.
Having a routine established early is crucial to a child’s educational success all the way through.
It all begins with establishing habits like reading every day. Reading before bed time is the perfect way to round down, develops literacy and establishes a structure. This can be developed when children are older into an expectation that they will do their homework as soon as they get in from school. They get in, have a snack, do their work and can then switch off for the rest of the evening.
Developing the idea that you do work straight away, rather than delaying it, is very important for success in later life. If this is established at an early age it simply becomes the norm. Children grow into young adults that know they have made a written note of their (home)work/ ‘to do’ list and get on with it straight away.
Where possible, it’s great for children to have a little space where they do their work every day and can keep their books/ resources. It’s totally fine if that’s not possible, but it can be established in small ways without too much change. The kitchen table can be for homework and then cleared away ready for an evening meal. Work can be done in the corner of the lounge and then cleared away for television time. It’s all about establishing patters.
At the start, this will have to be driven and role modelled by you. That can be tiring and takes a great deal of patience. However, the pay off is that you child will establish a routine, not just for learning, but in other areas of life.