How to support your primary-aged child at home with their literacy and numeracy

Homework has continually been a subject of intense debate. Is the standard six hours of learning a day across 190 days in a year at school sufficient? For some, it is. However, for the majority, engaging in a moderate amount of schoolwork at home is deemed crucial. But this should not encourage a frenzied rush to purchase every CGP book from the nearest WHSmith: quite the contrary. The fundamental essence of homework lies in reinforcing previously learned knowledge from school. Hence, small, regular, and thoughtfully approached tasks are crucial in aiding a child's learning.

How much homework should my child be doing each week?

The quantity of homework your child completes is typically influenced by various factors, primarily their age. When a child begins school, they'll likely find the school day quite tiring and potentially overwhelming. At this stage, establishing a routine of highly positive, enjoyable reading sessions up to five times a week for 15-20 minutes is sufficient. As your child matures and develops greater resilience, this period can be extended, allowing them to engage in additional activities like practising times tables and spelling. Refer below for our guidance table.

What materials should I buy to support my child?

There are a few essentials that your child will need to complete their homework.

  • A pencil
  • A sharpener
  • A rubber
  • A ruler

Other items such as a notepad, mini whiteboard and pen and some phonic cards may also be very helpful.

Regarding purchasing specialist educational resources, the difficulty often arises here for some. The National Curriculum's nature means there are significant local differences between how essential skills are taught. Handwriting, mathematical calculations, and spelling methods vary based on a school's policy, selected scheme of work, and educational approach.

As a result, most schools provide parents with the resources intended for

children to use at home, aligning with the methods and content taught in school.

This doesn't imply that you shouldn't go beyond the homework set, but perhaps running your suggestions by your child’s teacher before purchasing resources would be useful to avoid confusion or contradicting the methods taught by the school. Refer to our table below for additional guidance.

How can I prevent homework from becoming a battle?

After a full day at school, the last thing many children want to do is more work, especially if they find schoolwork challenging or have multiple extracurricular activities during their evenings. Here are three top tips to help balance this:

  1. If your child feels tired after school, consider doing homework during breakfast.
  2. Time-box it! Set a timer and aim for no more than 30 minutes per night.
  3. Maintain a highly positive atmosphere—strive for a 5:1 ratio of positive comments to constructively critical ones.
Do Don't
Aged 0-3 Enjoy nursery rhymes

Practise counting

Talk about letter names and letter sounds i.e. A and a

Enjoy stories together!

Teach your child to recognise their written name.

Watch Numberblocks on CBeebies.

Teach your child how to form their letters.

Each school uses slightly different methods for teaching letter formation. For example some schools teach precursive letters and all schools should be introducing letter formation with short rhymes when teaching the letter sounds.

Use too many American YouTube videos.

Letters like ‘z’ are completely different in the English and American alphabet.

Aged 4 - 6 Listen to your child read as often as you can. A few pages, five times a week can make a huge difference.

Talk to your child about phonics. Practise their phonic sounds when possible. Alphablocks are great but your school will have their own scheme which they may share resources with you from.

Practise recognising numbers as a digit and an amount. For example, the five dots on a dice and the 30mph on a road sign.

Practise one more, one less and number bonds to ten.

Begin skip counting in 2s, 5s and 10s when relevant.

Talk to your child about the time focusing on o’clock and half past.

Teach your child to add or subtract.

If set homework, just practise what your child has been taught.

Primary schools focus heavily on number sense before skipping through all of the 4 operations (+ - x ÷)

Aged 7-11 Help your child to practise their times tables regularly. This can be fun! Throwing a ball, singing songs and learning the rules.

Help your child to learn their spellings: car journeys are perfect for this!

Enjoy reading for pleasure. Ask your child about the books they are reading and visit libraries to borrow more.

Support your child with the maths work they are set. (You should not need to reteach them. If they don’t know how to do something, ask the school for more guidance.) Khan Academy has some useful tutorials if needed.

Encourage your child to keep a diary or have a pen pal.

Provide your child with old test papers.

These are often used as a teaching tool in school and can reduce the effectiveness if used at home.

Rely too much on technology.

Although Kindles and many Apps are fantastic, the human brain responds well to the physical act of turning pages and committing pen to paper.