Tips for expat parents in Belgium: find out how you can help with homework even if you don’t speak the language.
One of the challenges for expat parents can be how to provide support for children receiving education in a foreign language. This is the case for many parents of children at schools in Belgium, a country that performs well in education even though it has a large number of students from foreign-speaking families at its Dutch, French and English-speaking schools.
Expatica, offers some homework tips and explains how foreign-speaking parents can still help their children with school-work.
Help your child with preparing their homework routine
Helping your child with homework doesn’t mean you have to speak the language or understand the concept. One of the most important things all parents can do is help their children create a homework routine, providing a regular study time and place for their children to do their homework, away from distractions such as television or social media.
So you don’t have to be a master of the language or of any particular school subject to provide homework help, which might be a relief to parents whose school days are long behind them! Providing simple practical support on how to manage homework – making sure it’s not left until the last minute, or even doing work yourself at the same time to set a good example – can be a great help.
Schools in Belgium usually have a homework policy which can help guide parents on this.
Translate the homework into the home language
For those that want to get really stuck in, there’s always the option of translating the homework so that it can be fully understood. Fortunately in this day and age, this can be quite easily done with online tools.
Translating homework assignments can also help parents and children understand the purpose of the homework and give them a base of understanding.
Enrol your child in after-school study programs
As in many countries, education in Belgium isn’t restricted just to school hours and many schools run out-of-hours clubs that offer homework help and support. This is a great way for parents in Belgium to ensure that their child gets homework help if they themselves are stretched for time or find it difficult establishing a set routine at home.
Some schools provide a free homework club after school. Children can get assistance from a teacher so that all their homework is completed before they go home. This reduces stress for both parents and children and ensures that evenings are free to pursue other interests and hobbies.
Take an interest in your child’s learning
Showing an interest and being there to help is a great way to start as it makes the child realise that you view their learning as a priority.
If your child sees that you’re taking an interest in how they’re progressing, it can have a positive impact on their achievements. There are a few ways you can do this, including:
- asking your child questions about what they have been learning
- giving regular encouragement and celebrating your child’s successes
- providing a listening ear when your child encounters difficulties with school or school-work
It can also help if parents stay close by to where their children are doing homework. That way the child knows that the parent is interested and is on hand to help if necessary.
Keep in regular contact with class teachers
If you can get to know your child’s teacher, you’ll have a better understanding of what they’re looking for in their students. Schools in Belgium have events and parent-teacher sessions where parents can attend and ask questions. If language barriers prevent you from being able to take full advantage of opportunities such as these, you can keep up communication in writing.
At some schools, teachers send an email to parents fortnightly detailing the learning that their children will undertake in the coming weeks. These can be translated into the home language to ensure that parents understand the assignments.
Finally… resist the urge to do the homework yourself!
Don’t forget that it’s not your homework and your child won’t benefit if they don’t think for themselves and learn from their own mistakes.
Be available to provide homework help, support and guidance, but resist the urge to do it for them. Homework is an extension of school learning and children should be able to complete it themselves under parental guidance.