Homework hacks - how to keep kids focused in winter

Our homework hacks will help your kids stay motivated and energised throughout the winter months and protect their wellbeing.

Homework shot
(Image credit: EE)

If you and your children dreaded returning to school after the Christmas holidays, you’re not alone. January can feel like an uphill slog, and cajoling and coaxing your child back into doing their homework after all the fun of the festive season may seem almost impossible. Dark mornings and evenings, cold weather, and the long stretch to Easter combine to sap energy, motivation and commitment for kids… and parents!

Don’t worry - we have homework hacks to help even the most reluctant child rediscover their passion for learning and give you the support you need if things become challenging.

From using artificial intelligence tools to help research subjects and generate ideas to harnessing tech and learning resources that can help your child get affordable educational support and stay safe online, we’ve got tips and tricks to empower them and find unique ways to improve their learning. 

 Hack #1: Harness the power of artificial intelligence 

Artificial intelligence is here to stay. AI tools, such as ChatGPT or Microsoft Edge AI, can help support your child’s educational needs, speed up research and reading time, and help them structure essays more effectively. However, it is vital that your child understands the difference between using AI to help with homework and using it to do their homework.

Schools are helping kids adapt to using AI, but parents can also play their part. Encourage your child to see AI as a tool or a buddy that can help them figure out assignments and tasks rather than complete them.

Here are some quick tips for using AI for homework, which will help rather than hinder your child’s learning processes:

Tablet with homework

(Image credit: Tom Watkins)
  • Research: Encourage your child to use prompts and keywords rather than simply asking AI for answers. It encourages them to think strategically about using AI and helps to reframe it as a tool instead of a shortcut. 
  • Problem-solving:  AI can help guide your child through working out a maths problem or scientific experiment, explaining the concepts behind it.
  • Tips for structuring study: AI tools can offer your child revision strategies, time management and memory techniques that can help them retain and understand information. 
  • Critical thinking: Encourage them to understand AI’s limitations and that it can be biased when generating information. 

Above all else, let your child know that their unique opinion and voice are essential. Supporting your child’s self-esteem and confidence will help them think beyond AI and value their decisions and judgement. 

 Hack #2: Support their physical and mental wellbeing 

If you’ve already got wearable tech to stay on track with your health and wellbeing, such as tracking your steps or sleep, why not use it to boost your child’s wellbeing too? Walking to or from school and getting enough shut-eye can dramatically improve your child’s learning. 

A 2023 systematic review of thousands of students in over a dozen existing studies found that 90 minutes or more of physical activity each week had a ‘significant’ effect on academic performance. Children between the ages of 6 and 13 need around 9-11 hours of sleep a night to help support their ability to learn in school, too. Wearable devices that track these crucial benefits can be an eye-opener to how much exercise and sleep your child is getting and help you take steps to improve their overall health.

Mindful apps like Calm can help support your child’s wellbeing by reducing stress levels, improving their focus, and helping them regulate big emotions. Calm has guided meditations and breathing exercises to help manage anxiety, and there are even relaxation exercises to help them get a better night’s sleep.

Calm app

(Image credit: Tom Watkins)

 Hack #3: Find affordable educational support with EE Learn 

EE has recently launched EE LearnSmart that provides all the essential elements for your child to enjoy online learning in a fun, accessible, and secure environment. It’s free for anyone to access and comes with tools that support your child’s wellbeing while they navigate the online world. And what’s more, EE’s new Smart Hub Plus has Wi-Fi controls to keep students safe outside school, with added cyber security and device controls so you can relax knowing they’re protected when having fun, participating in online study groups, or revising with friends.

EE’s expert tools and services, plus our homework hacks, will help your child navigate the new term safely and confidently.

Visit ee.co.uk/learn to find out more, and enjoy great offers on the Calm app. Plus, save £20 a month on new, unlimited data mobile plans, when you choose EE Broadband.

Joanne Lewsley

Joanne Lewsley is a freelance copywriter and editor who creates parenting, health and lifestyle content for evidence-based websites, including BabyCentre, Live Science, Medical News Today and more.