April recently did a post on the types of homework assignments that she, as a parent, doesn’t think are helpful to education. This a complimentary article.
As was once so famously said, “Help me help you.” A lot of our household’s homework battles over the years could have been avoided (and sometimes were) with a little help from the teacher.
- Give us the answers. The best thing my 8th grader’s Algebra teacher has done this year is give us an answer sheet along with the homework. The students still have to show their work, of course, but this helps us know if we’re even on the right track. (Math is not my strong suit, and I have been known to “help” my daughter get all the wrong answers before!)
- If not the answers, how about a practice problem? My 5th grade daughter came home last week with a long-division problem involving decimals, and I couldn’t remember what you were supposed to do with the decimals. Please keep in mind that most of us just whip out the calculator, so a little refresher would be great!
- Advanced (and multiple) notice. Let’s face it, most kids are notorious for leaving things until the last minute anyway, so please notify us parents in all forms of communication available (this is where a Parentella classroom comes in very handy!) about any big projects more than once. Particularly if they involve a financial investment on our part so that we can work it into our budget as well as our schedule!
- Check the PTA calendar. Even if you don’t attend the PTA meetings, be aware of their meeting days and any activities they’re planning, just in case some of the parents in your class are involved and will have less time available to help their kids with homework because of PTA obligations.
- Alternatives. Last week, my oldest daughter had rehearsals until 10:00 pm every night for the play she is involved in. This meant she wasn’t getting to bed until nearly midnight since she had to do her homework after rehearsal. She did an amazing job keeping up with everything, but at the same time, it would have been nice if she could earn some school credit for her extra-curricular activities. For example, she could do a report on what it takes to put a show together, or even a Math problem on how many tickets will have to be sold in order for the production to break even. Using a student’s extra-curriculars to examine how their scholastic learning does relate to real life could be a great tool!
- Utilize peer pressure. All of the nagging in the world wasn’t making a difference to my younger daughter. The progress reports were too few and far between for her to feel motivated enough at times. This year, her 5th grade teacher has given her the best motivation to get her homework done. She tantalizes them with a walk to the park at lunch time if everyone in the class turns their homework in on time. After the first week, my daughter never again wanted to be the kid holding up the class from this opportunity, and did stay up late to finish her homework on time without any nagging from me!
Sometimes, as a parent, I’ve been known to groan right along with my kids when it comes to homework. Just a few of these adjustments could help the parents, and thereby their students, have a more positive attitude about homework.
April McCaffery is a single parent to two daughters, in 5th and 8th grade.
- A Parent’s Perspective on Homework
- Preparing yourself as a parent for Back to School
- Let’s Start a Conversation about Homework
- Connecting the home and school for our kids’ success
- Being a Parent Rather than Enforcer