In the NCTM “Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School” journal article “Homework: How Much Help is Enough“, suggestions are given to parents with regard to homework help that benefits students, and that that does not.
As a message to teachers, the article points out that while their role is to provide practice opportunity so students can build understandings and make connections, not providing adequately structured homework experiences can set students (and parents) up for failure. To structure positive experiences, teachers should
* assign homework based on previously taught material or material from upcoming lessons to give parents an idea of what their children have accomplished and what is to come.
* assign questions that require higher-order thinking skills
* give students time to read through homework expectations and discuss them with a peer to ensure that they understand what is expected of them
* provide parents with a list of questions they can use to help their child instead of supplying answers. Ex. Would it help to make a list/draw a diagram/break the question into parts.
* provide information to students/parents on how homework is to be assessed and policies for lates/incompletes
* provide parents with resources to help their children Ex. web-based tutorials
As for parents or teachers battling with the question as to whether parents should help their middle school children with homework, the article answers YES. But the authors are quick to point out that the help provided should evolve as children move from elementary to middle years. Middle years students need to develop independence, responsibility and confidence in their abilities and so, need support in getting their homework done and not support in actually doing the homework. The article even goes so far as to suggest that correcting your child’s mistakes, directing them on what to do or saving them from consequences can inhibit their development of independence, responsibility and confidence.
The article suggests that parents can help by:
* providing students with adequate work space, supplies, and time to complete homework
* being informed about the school’s expectations for their child and their child’s progress and achievement