Sunday, December 5, 2010

Practical Homework Tips for Parents

Last month, I blogged about the purpose of homework. This post was written mainly for teachers to hopefully reflect on their homework-giving practice. This morning, I came across a post on homework tips for parents written by Scott Guditus, a middle school principal in Massachusetts. His blog is a good one. His homework tips for parents make sense. But there are a couple I would add:

1. If your child is legitimately struggling with a homework assignment because he does not understand the concept, do not push him to finish the assignment. It is the teacher's job to teach that concept and it does no good to try and practice a concept the child does not understand.

2. If the homework seems like pointless busy work, don't be afraid to respectfully ask the teacher for a rationale for the assignment. Assignments like spelling packets, time-consuming workbook pages of drill and kill practice skills, and copying words and definitions from a book have little research to back up their effectiveness. And if the teacher mentions teaching responsibility, pass along the name Alfie Kohn for their reading pleasure or let them know that the chores you assign at home do a good job of teaching responsibility. Here's a great resource to share.

3. If the homework is turning your kids off learning, respectfully ask the teacher for other options. If taking low-level comprehension based computer tests over books or building dioramas is making reading a chore rather than a joy for your child, take a stand against them.

Parents and teachers must be partners in a child's learning. In order for this partnership to be valuable and valid, parents shouldn't be afraid to have open, honest, respectful dialog with teachers about the homework being assigned.

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