Encouraging learning at home 17

I have blogged previously that we are not big fans of homework here in the mad house, however, I am aware that it is going to become a necessary evil for my boys in the years to come and we have made the decision that from this year (year 5, aged 9/10) we are going to encourage Maxi to learn at home and do any allocated homework. 10 ways to encourage learning

There have been a number of reasons for this decision, including the fact that a couple of their friends are starting senior school and they will have over an hour homework each evening and also that other friends although not local are receiving tutoring for their 11+  using tutors such as Fleet Tutors.  In fact MadDad tutored Math’s GCSE and A’Level when we first met.  Tutoring isn’t always about just improving grades, but about raising confidence and giving children the encouragement they need. We feel that the time has come to start the preparation for future learning.  We want to keep this encouragement as simple as possible and in fact make homework and learning fun and not a chore. We have been encouraging learning at home though play and reading throughout the boys lives at home, so the transition to doing homework, doesn’t scare me or the boys at all.

Tips for encouraging learning at home


  1. Fill your home with books.  Both the boys love facts and fact books.  We have and still are fostering a love of reading in our children.

  2. Encourage discussion and opinion.  I want my children to be free thinkers, to understand that having an opinion is fine and that they have to back up that opinion with reason and facts.

  3. Make it fun.  Both formal and informal learning is much easier when fun.  If a book they need to read does not stimulate them, find an alternative one that does or another way for them to glean the information.  This too applies if using a tutor,  make sure that your child finds them inspiring (has a connection) and enjoys learning with them and that it isn’t a chore

  4. Make learning a participation sport.  I freely admit to my children that I do not know everything and that I too will have to learn somethings with them.  Spellings are a communal event, they test me (I am pants at spelling and I test them) usually during dinner or on the walk to school.

  5. Encourage learning through play from a young age.  Play matters and is key to everything your child is and will be.

  6. Use real world examples.  Do science at home, encourage children to cook and engage your child in real world learning, ask questions and make connections.

  7. Give them a place to do homework whilst supported by you.  We use the kitchen table and have everything the boys will need in a bureaux in the kitchen.  I can be preparing dinner whilst they are working and I make myself available to them as they need me.

  8. Celebrate achievements.  Make time to celebrate your children’s learning achievements and set clear expectations of them.  My boys know that 100% effort is non negotiable regardless of the outcome. Offer positive reinforcement to inspire them to keep learning and being challenged.

  9. Show interest in what they are learning.  Do not make results and scores the focus of your questions.  Show a true interest in what they are studying.  Having your child put what they are learning into their own words will reinforce that learning.

  10. Set a good example by showing them that learning is pleasurable and is a lifelong process.  Additionally, parents who exude an overall positive attitude about their own responsibilities show children that while all people have tasks to complete, doing them with care and enthusiasm is far better than simply giving the minimum effort.

 THe Mad House


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17 thoughts on “Encouraging learning at home

  • You Baby Me Mummy

    Great post Jen, thanks for sharing your tips/ideas. We have so many books for Baby already, it is so important to us that she enjoys reading as it will stand her in good sted x

  • Louise Edwards

    Great post. It is a challenge to make home relaxing and restful as well as a learning environment but some great tips here. Children are sponges and taking in so much from so young so it is vital they are getting the best stimulation. xx

  • Astrid

    I like these tips. Particulalry the one about showing a positive attitude towards your daily activities and learning in general. I hated reading in school, and when I read Alice in Wonderland, which was something I didn’t like, my father read it in English (we’re Dutch) to show that he was taking on a challenge too.

  • Julie

    This is a fantastic post and every tip is something I think every parent should read and implement. I hope it works out well x

  • Louisa

    Some great tips. For me I find the hardest challenge is to find the balance between supporting and encouraging their homework and taking over and doing it for them. Will gets a few hours homework each weekend but his teacher makes it fun and he is more inclined to do it that way.

  • Kate Thompson

    Great post – but in practice it’s hard to motivate those who don’t wish to be motivated! My kids do LOADS at home, but it’s always their own agenda :S

  • Sonya Cisco

    My middle boy is about to head into year 6 and actually year 5 was pretty mellow still homework wise, am not looking forward to it in increasing much as he finds school a bit stressful and needs to unwind when he gets home not start on more work that reminds him of it! Great tips tho, he loves fact books and once I realised this he is reading as much as he used to when he was younger – he had just gone off fiction and I hadn’t really clocked why he wasn’t reading much for a while!

  • Kara

    I hate homework with a passion and Isaac had to practice reading over the summer. We found joke books worked for us!

  • Joanna Sormunen

    Great tips! Thank you! I’m not a huge fan of homework either. I don’t think it’s parents job to teach (if the child isn’t homeschooled) but the teacher’s. The homework should be for practicing something you already learned, not for learning new skills. And there should be enough time to be a child and learn by playing, like a child should.

  • Globalmouse

    Some great tips – we are going back to homework in September and I’m dreading it. We had some for the holidays which we’ve totally failed to do!

  • Shell Louise

    Homework is a nightmare at our house. The teen has had more detentions for not doing homework in his three years at secondary school than I had in the whole time I was at school! He started homework club last year and it really helped him get it done so I’m keeping my fingers crossed they run it again this year.

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