Positive Parent Homework Practices

Dr. Sam Goldstein

Homework is an important component of your child’s school experiences. It affords the opportunity for practice and review, and helps your child become an independent learner, an essential skill in high school and beyond. If you are like most parents, you feel a mixture of emotions about homework, some positive and some negative. All parents, however, wonder if the homework routine they have set in place is a positive one.

As your children return to school we suggest you complete the following twenty-five item questionnaire, dealing with positive homework practices.

Positive Parent Homework Practices
___Yes ___No 1. Do you volunteer time to your child’s classroom or school?
___Yes ___No 2. Do you go to school conferences or meetings about your child?
___Yes ___No 3. Do you ask the teacher about your child’s homework practices and policies?
___Yes ___No 4. Are you aware of your child’s whereabouts after school?
___Yes ___No 5. Do you monitor your child’s homework after school or by using a trusted individual or tutor?
___Yes ___No 6. Do you monitor your child’s homework after school with a written or taped list and with a phone call?
___Yes ___No 7. Do you or your child have homework times established?
___Yes ___No 8. Does your child keep these times and do you enforce these homework times?
___Yes ___No 9. Do you limit TV time or make sure it is given after the child has spent some time on homework?
___Yes ___No 10. Have you helped your child experiment with different places to study and different home conditions (with music, TV on, at a desk, on the bed, etc.)?
___Yes ___No 11. Do you provide healthy homework snacks for your child after school?
___Yes ___No 12. Have you helped your child identify activities or breaks to look forward to after completing a certain amount of time or homework?
___Yes ___No 13. Does your child have or have you helped your child develop a way to plan for a long term project, with checks and reminders?
___Yes ___No 14 Do you ask about what the child learned at school that day and about interests?
___Yes ___No 15. Does your child have a system of putting homework in a specific place?
___Yes ___No 16. Do you help your child practice skills using games or flashcards?
___Yes ___No 17. Do you help your child understand directions by asking your child what he/she reads?
___Yes ___No 18. Do you allow the child an alternative to demonstrate what he/she knows (e.g., drawing pictures, typing, talking)?
___Yes ___No 19. Do you read to your child when the objective of the lesson is not reading but understanding the content (e.g., social studies, math problem solving)?
___Yes ___No 20. Do you provide ways to make homework faster or more fun (colorful folders, pencils, organizers, choice, getting them started, providing positive statements)?
___Yes ___No 21. Do you provide tape recorded messages, check sheets, tours of the public library, references, choice, and goal setting to develop independence?
___Yes ___No 22. Do you help your child prioritize homework tasks?
___Yes ___No 23. Would you hire a tutor if the child’s skill level is significantly below the homework requirements?
___Yes ___No 24. Do you find ways to praise your child for good work and homework?
___Yes ___No 25. Do you help your child study for tests by quizzing your child on material to be learned?

Once you have completed this questionnaire review the questions you responded to with No. Think about how your child might benefit if you were to modify your behavior in these major categories, becoming involved (questions 1-3), monitoring homework completion (questions 4-6), establishing and enforcing homework routines (questions 7-10), providing assistance in different ways (questions 11-25) and helping your child value education through your own example, discussion of learning, and assistance. The issues in this questionnaire will be covered in weekly articles during the coming year. If you have an immediate concern about one of the items in this questionnaire you can seek answers in our text, Seven Steps to Homework Success: A Family Guide for Solving Common Homework Problems.

This column is excerpted and condensed from, Seven Steps to Homework Success: A Family Guide for Solving Common Homework Problems by Sydney S. Zentall, Ph.D. and Sam Goldstein, Ph.D. (1999, Specialty Press, Inc.).