One of La Mariposa’s best attributes is the ease with which
parents and teachers communicate about student learning and progress. According
to the current body of educational research, parent involvement is one of the
key factors to student success. To that
end, the La Mariposa encourages and supports the involvement of parents and
families in student learning.
importance of parent involvement is unquestionable, there are many questions as
to HOW parents can and should be involved in their child’s learning. One of the most common questions is: Should parents help with homework? This universal question indicates a
desire to be involved in the most helpful and appropriate ways. I’d like to provide some guidance for parents
in regard to homework by answering the above question.
Should parents help
with homework? Yes! Parent help accomplishes a few goals:
students have a guide for completing their work, and the work is given value
when parents pay attention to its completion.
The type and amount of help are
dependent on your child’s age. Younger students (K-3) require an adult to work
directly with the student for most assignments.
Finding the balance of “how much help is too much help” is hard to
define. However, I suggest the following
as a guide for parents: Ask yourself “who is doing the thinking on this
assignment? If you are the one
completing the steps of the assignment, or leading your child to every answer,
then you are helping too much.
Instead, frame your questions in
order to elicit thinking from your child. Ask, “What do you think is the correct answer?” Follow up with “How do you know this?”
or “What makes you think that?” These
types of questions will get your child to explain their answers, and either
defend their answer or find errors based on their explanations.
students (4-5) may require help as well on nightly homework. For these students, homework is typically a
review of skills taught that day. This
presents a problem for parents, since they were not in the classroom to see the
lesson. Many of the skills (especially
in math) are taught differently than when parents were in school. Consequently, your help may sound different
than the teacher’s. To get a better
sense of the lesson or concept, I suggest using the online version of our math
textbook, found at www.thinkcentral.com
. This will lead you to the online
version of the student text and helpful tools for our math curriculum.
An aspect of homework often overlooked
is homework’s value for developing planning skills. Parents should help students plan their week
of homework and studying, just as adults plan their own to-do lists. Parents can say, “Since we have soccer
practice Tuesday and Thursday, when will be the best times for you to do your
spelling homework for the week and study for your science test?” You can put these planned work times on a
shared family calendar, which gives value to the child’s work and lets everyone
know what’s been planned.
The goal of your child’s teacher is
for homework to be a valuable tool for learning that reinforces the concepts
learned in school. The goal is never to
cause frustration or conflict. If this happens…STOP! Take a break and do something around the
house, or select an easier assignment.
Then, come back to the assignments that cause frustration. If your child
is having a hard time completing the assignment with your help, we encourage
your child to contact a friend in the class.
If, after getting peer help, your child is still struggling with the
assignment, write a note on the page or send an email to the teacher asking for
help. Write the email with your child present, so you can model how to
appropriately ask for help. If this
becomes a common problem, set up a meeting with your child’s teacher so you can
all talk about homework and how to best complete it.
In the end, homework should
be a routine that supports the daily learning in La Mariposa classrooms. With a positive attitude,
a quiet setting, and
the right tools for getting help, homework can be a useful part of the