Lessons and homework: accompanying your child

When a child starts primary school, he or she must adapt to a new way of learning. He will receive a lot of information and bring home homework. These assignments are an opportunity for the child to learn to concentrate and organize. As a result, he becomes more and more responsible and gets used to making efforts to achieve objectives.


Supporting your child

Academic success and the accompanying homework are a shared responsibility between the child, the teacher and the parent. Maintaining good collaboration with the teacher throughout the school years will help you support your child in his or her efforts.

How long will it take?
In first year, homework should take about 15 minutes per night and in second year, 25 minutes. At this age, the time spent on homework should never exceed 30 to 40 minutes. If you find that your child is taking too long to do his or her homework, discuss it with his or her teacher.

At the beginning of primary school, your child will need constant support. Gradually, he will become more autonomous in the management of his tasks and duties, but he will always need to feel that you are present and ready to help him if necessary. Here are some suggestions to help your child get off to a good start:

  • Remind your child to take the time to check if he or she has put everything he or she needs in his or her school bag to do homework: books, school notebooks, pencils;
  • Help him organize himself. Establish a regular routine and schedule with your child so that he or she has time to do homework. Teach him to proceed in stages;
  • Make sure they can work in an appropriate environment. To concentrate better, some children like a little ambient noise, others prefer complete silence. Evaluate what seems appropriate for your child, but avoid too many distractions during homework (television, friends calling, music too loud);
  • Supervise his homework period and check if the work has been done properly, especially at the beginning of primary school. If everything goes well, if he has no particular difficulties and if he develops good work habits, he will need your presence less and less. He will know that you are interested in what he is doing and that you are there for him if necessary;
  • Be realistic in your expectations of your child. Respect his learning rhythm. Every child is different. It is possible that your child may have ease in one subject and less in another. The important thing is that it continues to make the necessary efforts;
  • Be patient, but be firm. It is important to establish clear rules and stick to them. For example: no television or visiting friends if homework is not completed.
  • If it is a babysitter who picks up your child after school, do not hesitate to delegate the follow-up of homework to the babysitters, some are studying to become teachers and can also help your child. Babysitters in Lille and the big cities are easily found and can make your life much easier.

Motivate your child

Learning difficulties

If, despite all the help provided, your child is still having difficulties, talk to his or her teacher to find out if he or she is experiencing the same thing in class. If you suspect a learning disability, consult a specialist to identify the problem and find solutions to help your child.

  • Encourage your child. Praise him when he makes an effort and highlight his successes. It is not always necessary to compliment him, but it is important to point out his progress and positive results. It is a way to keep them motivated, to show them that they are making progress in their learning and that their efforts are bearing fruit;
  • Be interested in what he does. Be attentive and let them express themselves about what they are going through. Share his enthusiasm when he succeeds or when he likes a new subject. Listen to him too when he has difficulties. He needs to feel that you are there for him;
  • Stay positive and don’t blame him if he doesn’t succeed the first time or if he’s wrong. Failure is part of learning. Instead, invite them to write down their mistakes and try to do better next time;
  • Remind them of everything they have learned so far (dressing by themselves, counting to 10, etc.). Explain to him what all this learning will be for;
  • At all times, stay confident and show him that you trust him. Try to find solutions with him without giving up.

Difficulties with homework?

  • First review the instructions with your child, make sure he or she has understood them and suggest that they check their textbooks to find the answer.
  • Do not do the work for him and do not give in to the temptation to give him an answer. He must find and understand on his own. Even mistakes are part of learning. Give him some leads instead. Where could he find this information? What did the professor say? Think with him to help him find the solution.
  • If you think your child needs an example to understand, you can make a similar problem in front of him. By acting as a role model, you will help them develop ways of doing things.
  • If you are not comfortable with some of the concepts your child is learning at school, you can visit the Allô prof website, which also offers help by phone. This service is free of charge and it is teachers who answer the calls.
  • If they often have difficulty finding answers to questions and understanding their homework, talk to their teacher to try to find a solution.
  • If difficulties persist and may affect your child’s academic performance, it is possible to register your child for homework assistance or recovery periods with his or her teacher. Ask your school about the services available.

The importance of reading

To help your child in his or her future academic learning, give your child a taste for reading:

  • Take the time to read with your child. Read stories out loud or read silently, side by side, while you each look at your book. Make them moments of shared intimacy;
  • If your child lacks interest or motivation to read, read one page and then ask them to read the next. In addition to giving your child a role model, you motivate him by accompanying him in his reading;
  • Ask him questions about his reading. Ask him to tell you what he has read;
  • Involve them in cultural activities related to reading, such as an animation in a library, or a meeting with a children’s author in a bookstore;
  • Combine reading and pleasure. Give them the opportunity to spend time with you and share stories with you. Tell him that he too can read stories to Grandma, his little sister, or yourself while you do the dishes.

Are homework useful?

Some parents and teachers wonder about the relevance of homework. Here are some arguments for and against homework.

For homework

  • They allow parents to better evaluate their child’s learning and to get involved in their school life.
  • They provide a better link and follow-up between the parent and the teacher about the child’s academic progress.
  • They allow the child to review or deepen concepts seen in class in a quieter environment.
  • They empower the child, who must write down the work to be done in his or her diary and then do it.
  • They help to develop the child’s autonomy since the child must organize his time, his workspace and ask for help if necessary.

Against duties

  • Once home, children need to move and drop out of school.
  • Some parents lack time in the hustle and bustle of everyday family life or do not feel equipped to support their child well in the performance of homework.
  • Not all children have the same rhythm. The time required to complete homework may therefore be longer for those with learning difficulties.
  • Some teachers believe that homework monitoring and correction could be replaced by teaching time, which would allow more learning in the school setting.
  • Many teachers have replaced the homework period with a reading time at home, which is easier for the child and the parent. The reading period can be integrated into a pleasant time spent together, where everyone reads their book.
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The snack: a real meal!

And here we have the school year started with its own rhythm (sleep not too late to get a good night’s sleep, get up early to enjoy a good breakfast and arrive at school on time, punctuality at the end of the day for extracurricular activities,…) and its own particular tasks (preparing the schoolbag, filling in and signing all the documents, providing money for meals at school, preparing the picnic,…).

With the start of the school year, we are returning to good habits, as much as it is in terms of nutrition for our children, whether they are in kindergarten or primary school.

With four meals, the child goes around the day.

The breakfast

It is used to recharge its batteries to keep in shape all morning. It helps to maintain concentration and prevents snacking during the morning.

A strong breakfast includes a dairy product, bread or cereals, as well as fruit and a drink.

The ideal is to eat it all at home.

Morning snack

With a full breakfast, water is sufficient during the morning. Snacking is useless.

However, if breakfast is incomplete, it will be composed of the missing food families. These are usually bread (or cereals) and fruit. Ideally, this breakfast supplement is taken in the early morning and results in the elimination of the snack served in the middle or late morning. The latter is often too close to dinner or poorly adapted to the needs.

The snack

After school or after a busy afternoon of activities, children need to breathe, relax and feel full. The snack, taken as a family or when we meet, with friends, all together around the table to discuss and share, is the perfect moment of transition. The children take the time to talk to each other, to tell their day, to build relationships.

The snack is a real meal, it contributes to the dietary balance of the day. The time between lunch and dinner is too long for the child, his energy must be renewed. The snack provides the child with the necessary energy for his or her end-of-day activities. He avoids snacking before dinner.

We are often looking for good ideas, variety, balance and pleasure, to renew the composition of the snack. Let us keep in mind that a food is rarely appreciated right away, many tests are sometimes necessary. The “usual” food is more often appreciated than the “exceptional” food. Let us not give in too quickly, young age is an essential time to give children a taste for a varied and therefore balanced diet.

Gustatory perception is directly related to our sensory sensitivity. It is therefore not surprising to see a child refuse to eat a food that seems unknown to him/her when he/she has already eaten it before. This is a normal phase of evolution, which each child experiences to varying degrees. So let us not hesitate to offer food even after a disappointing first attempt. Children learn by imitation, they are particularly sensitive to the example of others and others.

Let us not forget either that appetite varies from one child to another and from one moment to another. The obligation to “finish everything” does not allow the child to be receptive to his physiological signals of satiety.

Trust your child and let him or her manage the amount of food consumed by allowing him or her, for example, to serve himself or herself.

However, it is obvious that the choice of food, the time and place of meals is the responsibility of the adult.

A full snack prevents your child from being hungry for dinner. A heavy supper reduces the quality of sleep and appetite for breakfast.

Avoid chocolate bars, biscuits, pastries,…, sodas, milk and flavoured or sweetened waters, fruit juices,… These foods are to be limited because they increase the risk of cavities, excess weight and the attraction to sugar.

It’s time to indulge yourself and present waffles, pancakes, not to mention fruit or fruit salad and the traditional but delicious toast!

A balanced snack is made up of starchy foods, fruits (or vegetables) and dairy products.

Here are some suggestions for balanced snacks for fall and winter:

  • A compote – a buttered slice of bread – a slice of cheese – water
  • Cinnamon oatmeal – milk – dried fruit (apricots, grapes,…) – water
  • A banana snack – a glass of milk – a square of chocolate – water
  • A sesame bun filled with goat cheese, herbs from Provence and honey – water
  • Gingerbread – orange segments with cinnamon – a glass of milk – water at will
  • Chocolate pear wrap – one glass of milk – unlimited water
  • Plum/banana milkshake – buttered cracker – water
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