Schools and teachers play a crucial role in empowering and helping parents to support their students with homework and general academics. If parents aren’t equipped to help with homework, assigning homework can be painful – or even inequitable.
Recently in our Possip surveys, we’ve heard parents asking questions about how to support their student with homework at home.
Parents want to be heroes to their kids – and be able to help. So here is how principals can help parents be a hero.
1. Give Parents Access to Resources
Parents want to be able to help their child with homework. The reality is – at some point what their kids are learning will be more advanced than what the parent knows. So parents should know that they don’t need to have all the answers. Still, parents should feel confident in being able to access resources available to them. Schools can send home a newsletter or post information on your facebook page.
- in school tutoring
- local homework hotline
- teacher contact information for help
- after school tutoring programs (this can be particularly helpful for parents who don’t speak English as they can have someone who does speak English help their kids in places)
- on-line resources like Khan Academy
2. Keep Parents Informed
Similar to above, keeping parents informed about what is happening in the classroom helps parents feel like powerful agents in their child’s academic lives.
Here are a few ways to do this:
- Post PowerPoints, resources, and teaching videos on a class website.
- Create a Class Blog that discusses big ideas and ways parents can support students during the unit. The teacher or students could write this. Having students writing the blog is also a great form of differentiation for students.
- Publish a Twitter Feed so parents can supplement learning at home and get quick updates on what is happening in class. This could be updates on what you are learning in class that day, discussions that came up to continue at home, or reminders of projects/assignments that are due soon.
3. Share Study Tools
Sending home a study packet with an answer key at the beginning of the unit will help parents understand what their child can be studying at home. You can post these study packets online for parents and students or send home in a hard copy. Another great study resources is www.quizlet.com which allows teachers to make flashcard decks and games for students to practice any time on a computer or a phone app. Teachers can share this with parents so they are aware of the study opportunity they can have with their child.
4. Give Grade Level Appropriate Reading Lists
Having reading lists for parents to push literacy at home will help their child with all subjects. Here are a couple websites with reading lists by grade level and interest (http://www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org/kids/reading-lists or http://www.readingrockets.org/books/booksbytheme). Parents reading grade appropriate texts with their children at home helps build reading skills, role modeling, and relationships. So giving parents some lists of books that are good to read is a helpful tool.
5. Set Academic & Homework Expectations for Parents at Home
One powerful and simple things schools can do for parents is to set academic expectations at home. For example, in kindergarten, the parent expectation could be to read to their child 20 mins per day. In 1st grade, it may be that their child reads to themselves for 10-20 minutes. But whatever you want parents to do at home, set guidelines. One of our partners used their Possip surveys to ask parents if they were reading to their kid for at least 10 minutes per night.
Academic expectations can also mean an expectation that parents review and sign homework nightly. Some of our Possip partner schools have a daily homework folder that parents sign.
6. Send Home Graded Student Work
Handing back graded work is something teachers do frequently. Making sure to find a process where students show parents the corrections can help parents look for those common mistakes in the future.
7. Invite Parents to Tutoring
If tutoring is an option on your campus, inviting parents to attend with their student is a benefit to everyone. Teachers can give parents directions of what they can be doing at home with their student and also having the parent watch what teacher actions they can replicate at home.
8. Host a Curriculum Night
Hosting a curriculum night is helpful so teachers can walk through instructional steps or teach new skills to parents. A few of our Possip schools hosted curriculum nights and have seen great success. Schools have found curriculum nights especially helpful for new teaching methods within the Common Core.
At the event, you can have a teacher walk through a lesson as if the parents are students.
Parents should also understand that it’s okay if they don’t know all of the knowledge they need to help their child at the end of the event. Still, sending home helpful references and tip sheets during that curriculum night will also be helpful for parents.
Remember to record the session and post it online so parents can refer back to it. Possip schools also use their weekly bonus question text to get RSVPs and publicize the events to parents.
To wrap up, some of the biggest wins for supporting students with homework are actually simple things that many of you are already doing. For the school, the #1 way schools and teachers can support parents is by making sure parents have multiple ways to know what their child is learning. This could be through graded work, academic newsletters, unit previews, or a syllabus. For parents, the #1 way you can support your student is to engage them by asking questions about what they are learning, reviewing what comes home, and showing an interest in what your child is learning.
Working together as a team to support students academically will lead to success for our students.
If you want to read up on more tips, check out this article from Scholastic on this topic: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/school-success/homework-help/homework-project-tips/10-homework-help-tips.html