Should Kids Get Homework?
Homework gives elementary students a way to practice concepts, but too much can be harmful, experts say.
Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful. (Getty Images)
How much homework students should get has long been a source of debate among parents and educators. In recent years, some districts have even implemented no-homework policies, as students juggle sports, music and other activities after school.
Parents of elementary school students, in particular, have argued that after-school hours should be spent with family or playing outside rather than completing assignments. And there is little research to show that homework improves academic achievement for elementary students.
But some experts say there's value in homework, even for younger students. When done well, it can help students practice core concepts and develop study habits and time management skills. The key to effective homework, they say, is keeping assignments related to classroom learning, and tailoring the amount by age: Many experts suggest no homework for kindergartners, and little to none in first and second grade.
Value of Homework
Homework provides a chance to solidify what is being taught in the classroom that day, week or unit. Practice matters, says Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University 's Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.
"There really is no other domain of human ability where anybody would say you don't need to practice," she adds. "We have children practicing piano and we have children going to sports practice several days a week after school. You name the domain of ability and practice is in there."
Homework is also the place where schools and families most frequently intersect.
"The children are bringing things from the school into the home," says Paula S. Fass, professor emerita of history at the University of California—Berkeley and the author of "The End of American Childhood." "Before the pandemic, (homework) was the only real sense that parents had to what was going on in schools."
Harris Cooper, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and author of "The Battle Over Homework," examined more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 and found that — when designed properly — homework can lead to greater student success. Too much, however, is harmful. And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary.
"Every child should be doing homework, but the amount and type that they're doing should be appropriate for their developmental level," he says. "For teachers, it's a balancing act. Doing away with homework completely is not in the best interest of children and families. But overburdening families with homework is also not in the child's or a family's best interest."
Negative Homework Assignments
Not all homework for elementary students involves completing a worksheet. Assignments can be fun, says Cooper, like having students visit educational locations, keep statistics on their favorite sports teams, read for pleasure or even help their parents grocery shop. The point is to show students that activities done outside of school can relate to subjects learned in the classroom.
But assignments that are just busy work, that force students to learn new concepts at home, or that are overly time-consuming can be counterproductive, experts say.
Homework that's just busy work.
Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful, experts say. Assignments that look more like busy work – projects or worksheets that don't require teacher feedback and aren't related to topics learned in the classroom – can be frustrating for students and create burdens for families.
"The mental health piece has definitely played a role here over the last couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the last thing we want to do is frustrate students with busy work or homework that makes no sense," says Dave Steckler, principal of Red Trail Elementary School in Mandan, North Dakota.
Homework on material that kids haven't learned yet.
With the pressure to cover all topics on standardized tests and limited time during the school day, some teachers assign homework that has not yet been taught in the classroom.
Not only does this create stress, but it also causes equity challenges. Some parents speak languages other than English or work several jobs, and they aren't able to help teach their children new concepts.
" It just becomes agony for both parents and the kids to get through this worksheet, and the goal becomes getting to the bottom of (the) worksheet with answers filled in without any understanding of what any of it matters for," says professor Susan R. Goldman, co-director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois—Chicago .
Homework that's overly time-consuming.
The standard homework guideline recommended by the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association is the "10-minute rule" – 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level. A fourth grader, for instance, would receive a total of 40 minutes of homework per night.
But this does not always happen, especially since not every student learns the same. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that primary school children actually received three times the recommended amount of homework — and that family stress increased along with the homework load.
Young children can only remain attentive for short periods, so large amounts of homework, especially lengthy projects, can negatively affect students' views on school. Some individual long-term projects – like having to build a replica city, for example – typically become an assignment for parents rather than students, Fass says.
"It's one thing to assign a project like that in which several kids are working on it together," she adds. "In (that) case, the kids do normally work on it. It's another to send it home to the families, where it becomes a burden and doesn't really accomplish very much."
Private vs. Public Schools
Do private schools assign more homework than public schools? There's little research on the issue, but experts say private school parents may be more accepting of homework, seeing it as a sign of academic rigor.
Of course, not all private schools are the same – some focus on college preparation and traditional academics, while others stress alternative approaches to education.
"I think in the academically oriented private schools, there's more support for homework from parents," says Gerald K. LeTendre, chair of educational administration at Pennsylvania State University—University Park . "I don't know if there's any research to show there's more homework, but it's less of a contentious issue."
How to Address Homework Overload
First, assess if the workload takes as long as it appears. Sometimes children may start working on a homework assignment, wander away and come back later, Cooper says.
"Parents don't see it, but they know that their child has started doing their homework four hours ago and still not done it," he adds. "They don't see that there are those four hours where their child was doing lots of other things. So the homework assignment itself actually is not four hours long. It's the way the child is approaching it."
But if homework is becoming stressful or workload is excessive, experts suggest parents first approach the teacher, followed by a school administrator.
"Many times, we can solve a lot of issues by having conversations," Steckler says, including by "sitting down, talking about the amount of homework, and what's appropriate and not appropriate."
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The Value of Parents Helping with Homework
Dr. selena kiser.
- September 2, 2020
The importance of parents helping with homework is invaluable. Helping with homework is an important responsibility as a parent and directly supports the learning process. Parents’ experience and expertise is priceless. One of the best predictors of success in school is learning at home and being involved in children’s education. Parental involvement with homework helps develop self-confidence and motivation in the classroom. Parents helping students with homework has a multitude of benefits including spending individual time with children, enlightening strengths and weaknesses, making learning more meaningful, and having higher aspirations.
How Parental Involvement with Homework Impacts Students
Parental involvement with homework impacts students in a positive way. One of the most important reasons for parental involvement is that it helps alleviate stress and anxiety if the students are facing challenges with specific skills or topics. Parents have experience and expertise with a variety of subject matter and life experiences to help increase relevance. Parents help their children understand content and make it more meaningful, while also helping them understand things more clearly.
Also, their involvement increases skill and subject retention. Parents get into more depth about content and allow students to take skills to a greater level. Many children will always remember the times spent together working on homework or classroom projects. Parental involvement with homework and engagement in their child’s education are related to higher academic performance, better social skills and behavior, and increased self-confidence.
Parents helping with homework allows more time to expand upon subjects or skills since learning can be accelerated in the classroom. This is especially true in today’s classrooms. The curricula in many classrooms is enhanced and requires teaching a lot of content in a small amount of time. Homework is when parents and children can spend extra time on skills and subject matter. Parents provide relatable reasons for learning skills, and children retain information in greater depth.
Parental involvement increases creativity and induces critical-thinking skills in children. This creates a positive learning environment at home and transfers into the classroom setting. Parents have perspective on their children, and this allows them to support their weaknesses while expanding upon their strengths. The time together enlightens parents as to exactly what their child’s strengths and weaknesses are.
Virtual learning is now utilized nationwide, and parents are directly involved with their child’s schoolwork and homework. Their involvement is more vital now than ever. Fostering a positive homework environment is critical in virtual learning and assists children with technological and academic material.
Strategies for Including Parents in Homework
An essential strategy for including parents in homework is sharing a responsibility to help children meet educational goals. Parents’ commitment to prioritizing their child’s educational goals, and participating in homework supports a larger objective. Teachers and parents are specific about the goals and work directly with the child with classwork and homework. Teachers and parents collaboratively working together on children’s goals have larger and more long-lasting success. This also allows parents to be strategic with homework assistance.
A few other great examples of how to involve parents in homework are conducting experiments, assignments, or project-based learning activities that parents play an active role in. Interviewing parents is a fantastic way to be directly involved in homework and allows the project to be enjoyable. Parents are honored to be interviewed, and these activities create a bond between parents and children. Students will remember these assignments for the rest of their lives.
Project-based learning activities examples are family tree projects, leaf collections, research papers, and a myriad of other hands-on learning assignments. Children love working with their parents on these assignments as they are enjoyable and fun. This type of learning and engagement also fosters other interests. Conducting research is another way parents directly impact their child’s homework. This can be a subject the child is interested in or something they are unfamiliar with. Children and parents look forward to these types of homework activities.
Parents helping students with homework has a multitude of benefits. Parental involvement and engagement have lifelong benefits and creates a pathway for success. Parents provide autonomy and support, while modeling successful homework study habits.
- #homework , #ParentalInvolvement
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Homework is defined as tasks assigned to students by school teachers that are intended to be carried out during non-school hours [i] . Homework is a unique educational practice as it is the only learning strategy that crosses the boundary between the school and the home. Much virtue has been attributed to the practice of homework that has not been borne out by research. Both teachers and parents have strong feelings, both positive and negative, about the value of homework, and parents and teachers alike still confuse homework load with rigour, and compliance with responsibility. To further complicate matters, most teachers have never been trained in the effective use of homework, so tend to rely on the traditional types of tasks they experienced as students.
In recent years, the practice of homework has come under critical review, with public attitudes around the globe changing, and with the following international trends emerging:
- Eliminating homework in the first 2-3 years of primary school.
- Limiting homework to reading only in the first 6 years of primary school.
- Eliminating weekend or holiday homework at all levels.
Many of these changes in policy have occurred at the school or district level, but some countries have instituted these changes through government mandate.
Homework and families
The diversity of families makes the practice of homework even more complicated. Parents within the same community may differ in their beliefs about the place of academic work in life. Some parents prioritise academics (wanting more homework), others want a balance of academics and chosen activities, and others prioritise leisure and happiness (wanting less or no homework). There is also a growing parent activism around the world, driven by the role homework plays in children’s stress levels and an awareness of the need for balance in work, play, downtime and sleep. Parents are speaking out with concerns about ‘academic stress’ and work/life balance for students and, as a result, are demanding more control over their child’s free time. Parents are also pushing back against using extra homework as punishment for misbehaviour in the classroom and practices that punish students for not completing homework.
There are also concerns about homework as an equity issue. Economic differences can entrench privilege as children from wealthier families enjoy ready access to technology, tutors, and educated parents, while children of poverty may lack access to technology, materials, and favourable working conditions. A study by the OECD [ii] of students from 38 different countries showed that students from higher social classes did more homework than students from lower social classes. More affluent parents are also more likely to help with homework than less affluent parents, and families living in poverty often need to prioritise family responsibilities and paid work over homework.
In an effort to address the widening economic diversity of families and to accommodate different parental preferences, some traditional homework practices, such as punishing students for incomplete homework or for a parent’s failure to sign homework, assigning extra homework to students as punishment for classroom misbehaviour, and including homework as a prerequisite for grade or year completion, are being discontinued in primary schools. Other homework practices are gaining popularity in primary schools, such as:
- Allowing flexibility in when homework is due, moving away from daily homework to homework that may be turned in over several days.
- Differentiating homework for parents—providing additional resources for parents who desire additional work for their child (challenge packets, lists of websites) and allowing other parents to ‘opt out’ of homework, or to choose to limit the amount of time their child spends on homework.
- Providing more time during the school day or after school for students to complete homework at school. Some schools, especially those in high poverty communities, are extending the school day, so that all homework is completed at school.
The research on homework
The results of research about the benefit of homework to academic achievement are mixed, inconclusive, and sometimes contradictory. These results are not surprising given that homework involves the complex interaction of a number of factors, such as differences in children, teachers, tasks, home environments, measurements of learning, and the unique interaction between homework and classroom learning within individual students [iii] . The pervasive flaw of the early homework research was that it focused almost exclusively on the correlation between time and achievement, with no consideration of the type or quality of the homework task. That research failed to show that homework improves the academic performance of primary school students, and revealed that, up to a point, the correlation of homework time and achievement appeared positive, but past the optimum amount of time, achievement either remained flat or declined [iv] .
What was the optimum amount of time spent on homework? Curiously, the appropriate amount of homework for different year levels was consistent with a longstanding guideline called the 10-minute rule (origin unknown). The 10-minute rule is a guideline many schools follow that homework should not exceed 10 minutes per year level per night, all subjects combined. That is, a student in year one should be expected to complete no more than 10 minutes per night, while a student in year six should be expected to complete no more than 60 minutes per night [v] . Interestingly, there is no recommendation for any amount of new entrants’ homework by any educational group.
However, while the 10-minute rule may be helpful as an upper limit, it fails to take into account the quality of the task and differences in students’ working speeds. It is important to remember that correlation of time and achievement is not causation: it is impossible to show that homework causes higher achievement. Correlating time and achievement also ignores many any other variables that may affect achievement. After controlling for motivation, ability, quality of instruction, course work quantity, and some background variables, no meaningful effect of homework on achievement remained [vi] .
Due to such discrepancies and other flaws in homework studies, researchers disagree as to whether or not homework enhances achievement. While many hold strongly to their assertion that homework is beneficial, others point to newer studies that seem to discount early research. A new generation of homework studies using more sophisticated analyses and controlling for more variables often fail to find a significant relationship between homework time and achievement, especially with primary students [vii] .
Teachers should view the research through the lens of what they intuitively know about their students and apply the same principles of effective teaching and learning to homework that they would apply to the classroom. Teachers know that organisation and structure of learning matters, that feedback about learning is critical, that the quality of a learning task matters, and that student differences in developmental levels, learning preferences and persistence must be considered. Achievement is related not to the amount of homework or the time spent on it, but to the quality of the homework task, the student’s perception of the value of the task, and how interesting the task appears. In other words, task quality is what really matters.
Purposes of homework
If homework is given, it should be purposeful and meaningful, not just given for the sake of assigning homework. Before designing a homework task, teachers must first determine the purpose of the task. This may include pre-learning, diagnosis, checking for understanding, practice, or processing. Homework should not be used for new learning.
- Pre-learning: traditional preparation homework, such as reading or outlining a chapter before a discussion, was often used as background for a more in-depth lesson. A more engaging use of pre-learning would be to discover what students already know about a topic or what they are interested in learning about (such as asking them to write down questions they have about the digestive system). The most valuable use of pre-learning homework may be to stimulate interest in a concept (such as listing eye colour and hair colour of relatives for a genetics lesson).
- Diagnosis: how do we design learning if we don’t know where students are? Diagnostic homework may include pre-tests, a checklist of ‘I can’ statements, or a practice test to assess prerequisite skills. Diagnostic homework saves time—once teachers know where students are in their skills or knowledge, they can plan instruction more efficiently.
- Checking for understanding: this is probably the most neglected use of homework, yet it is the most valuable way for teachers to gain insight into student learning. For instance, journal questions about a science experiment may ask the student to explain what happened and why. Asking students to identify literary devices in a short story shows the teacher whether the student understands literary devices. Asking students to do a few sample problems in math and to explain the steps lets the teacher know if the student understands how to do the problem.
- Practice: the traditional use of homework has been for the practice of rote skills, such as multiplication tables, or things that need to be memorised, such as spelling words. Although practice is necessary for many rote skills, there are three mistakes that teachers sometimes make with the use of practice homework. First, teachers may believe they are giving practice homework when, in fact, the student did not understand the concept or skill in class. The homework then actually involves new learning and is often quite frustrating. Second, if teachers skip the step of checking for understanding, students may be practising something incorrectly and internalising misconceptions. For instance, students should practise math operations only after the teacher has adequately checked for understanding. Third, distributed practice is better than mass practice—that is, practice is more effective when distributed over several days. A smart practice for math is two-tiered homework: Part One is three problems to check for understanding of a new skill, and Part Two is 10 problems to practise a skill previously learned.
- Processing. Processing homework asks students to do something new with concepts or skills they have learned – to apply skills, reflect on concepts that were discussed in class, think of new questions to ask, or synthesise information. Processing homework may be a single task such as applying maths skills to a new word problem, or a long-term project such as demonstrating writing skills in an original essay or creating a schematic to show the relationship between major concepts in a unit.
Designing quality homework tasks
Creating quality homework tasks requires attention to four aspects:
- Academic purpose — Tasks should communicate a clear academic purpose.
- Efficiency — Tasks should help students reach the learning goal without wasting time or energy.
- Competence — Tasks should have a positive effect on a student’s sense of competence. Homework tasks should be designed so that even young students can complete the task without adult help.
- Ownership — Tasks should be personally relevant and customised to promote ownership [viii] .
Academic purpose: all homework should clearly state the learning goal for the assignment. Sometimes homework tasks are well-intentioned attempts to have students do something fun or interesting, but the academic focus is not apparent (for instance, what exactly is the learning purpose of a word search?). Writing out definitions of vocabulary words or colouring in a map may sound like good homework, but one might question whether those tasks are appropriate to a focus on higher level thinking. Best practice suggests that students shouldn’t just write spelling words – they should use them to write declarative essays. They shouldn’t merely define the parts of the cell – they should create an analogy for the cell parts and functions. They shouldn’t just complete 20 identical math problems – they should apply math skills to new problems. Instead of reading logs which simply ask students (or parents) to document that they spent time reading, a better task would be to have the student write a reading blog to talk about what they have been reading.
Efficiency: sometraditional tasksmay be inefficient—either because they show no evidence of learning or because they take an inordinate amount of time. Projects that require non-academic skills (like cutting, gluing, or drawing) are often inefficient. Classic projects like dioramas, models, and poster displays are created by teachers with all the best intentions – they see them as a fun, creative way for students to show what they have learned. But unless content requirements are clearly spelled out in a rubric, projects can reveal very little about the student’s content knowledge and much more about their artistic talents.
Competence: an important objective of primary homework is to ensure that students feel positive about learning and develop an identity as successful learners. Homework tasks should be designed not only to support classroom learning but also to instill a sense of competence in the learner. In fact, when students feel unsuccessful in approaching homework tasks, they often avoid the tasks completely as a way to protect their self-esteem. Teachers should adjust homework difficulty or the amount of work based on their assessment of the student’s skill level or understanding. Struggling learners may need simpler reading material or tasks that are more concrete or more scaffolded. For students who work more slowly, the remedy should be to give the student less work rather than expecting them to work longer than other students. A simple differentiation for struggling learners is to make homework time-based (‘spend 20 minutes on this task, draw a line’) rather than task-based (finish the task regardless how long it takes). Just as checking for understanding is an important purpose for homework, teachers also need to check for frustration. Teachers should solicit feedback from students, finding out how students feel about approaching certain tasks and how they feel after they’ve attempted those tasks.
Ownership. Another important objective of homework is independent learning, but often homework is not structured with enough agency to allow for that independence. Perhaps that is because teachers believe the tasks they prescribe will naturally lead to the learning they desire for all students. But one-size-fits-all-homework rarely fits all. When we give students more ownership of the homework task, we make it more efficient and students are more motivated. Choice is at the heart of that student ownership. Homework choice can be as limited as ‘pick any 10 of the 30 problems’, as specific as having students work only on learning goals that they are struggling with, or as wide open as a self-selected and self-designed project. Students may not always have a choice about the learning goal, but they can almost always be given some agency in designing the best task for them to reach the goal. For instance, suppose the learning goal is for all students to memorise their multiplication tables. The homework might look like this:
- Create your own method to memorise your multiplication tables. Here are some ideas other students have tried – writing, reciting, making note cards, drawing a colour-coded chart, or creating a song.
- Share your idea with the class tomorrow.
- Practise your method this week.
- Evaluate how well your method worked after the quiz on Friday.
It may be helpful to think of the amount of ownership students are allowed in homework as a continuum from traditional to differentiated to personalised. Traditional homework is designed by teachers with no student input – prescribed tasks such as practice math problems or assigned reading in their science book. As we give students more ownership, we may give choices or we may differentiate. For instance, all students need to read, but they may be given choices of what they read. Students may need to practise subtraction, but they may create their own problems based on items in their home.
For the ultimate ownership, we may allow students to pursue personalised homework. Personalised homework involves students in goal setting (typically based on academic standards), planning a specific homework task, and planning how they will demonstrate learning. The personalised homework most familiar to teachers is probably genius hour (also called passion projects), which involves giving students a block of time to learn more about something that they are curious about, or that excites or inspires them. These long-term research projects often start in the classroom, with students transitioning to working on them as homework, bringing them back periodically for feedback, and eventually presenting their results to an audience.
What makes sense for many teachers is a balance of traditional homework, differentiated homework, and personalised homework over the course of a term or year. Often, some personalised homework will be blended into day-to-day learning in tandem with other more teacher-directed assignments. Many teachers reserve personalised homework for times when student motivation wanes, such as before the holidays or near the end of the school year.
Should homework be graded?
Research has shown the effect of feedback to be more powerful than many other factors that influence learning [ix] . As more primary schools focus on mastery learning, homework is increasingly viewed as formative feedback. The current consensus among researchers is that homework’s role should be as formative assessment—assessment for learning that takes place during learning [x] . Homework’s role is not assessment of learning – therefore, it should not be graded. Ideally, homework is given feedback, monitored for completion, and reported separately as a work habit.
Homework is just one part of an overall instructional plan. As our curricula, teaching strategies, and assessment strategies evolve to better meet student needs, so should our homework practices. Only by creating assignments that are effective and equitable can we make homework a valuable part of instruction and learning.
[i] Cooper, H. (2007). The battle over homework: Common ground for administrators, teachers, and parents. (3 rd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
[ii] Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2014). Does homework perpetuate inequalities in education? www.oecd.org/pisa/pisa-2015-results-in-focus.pdf . Retrieved 8-4-17.
[iii] Horsley, M. and Walker, R. (2013). Reforming homework: practices, learning and policy. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
[iv] Cooper, H. (2007). The battle over homework: Common ground for administrators, teachers, and parents. (3 rd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
[v] Vatterott, C. (2018). Rethinking homework: Best practices that support diverse needs , 2 nd edition. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
[vi] Trautwein, U., & Koller, O. (2003). The relationship between homework and achievement—still much of a mystery. Educational Psychology Review, 15 (2), 115–145.
[vii] Vatterott, C. (2018). Rethinking homework: Best practices that support diverse needs , 2 nd edition. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
[viii] Vatterott, C. (2010). Five hallmarks of good homework. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 10-15.
[ix] Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning . London: Routledge.
[x] Vatterott, C. (2018). Rethinking homework: Best practices that support diverse needs , 2 nd edition. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
By Dr Cathy Vatterott
PREPARED FOR THE EDUCATION HUB BY
Dr. Cathy Vatterott
Dr. Cathy Vatterott is Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and a former teacher and school principal. She is the author of four books, most recently Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs, 2nd edition (ASCD, 2018), and Rethinking Grading: Meaningful Assessment for Standards Based Learning (ASCD, 2015). She frequently presents at national conferences and serves as a consultant and workshop presenter for K-12 schools on homework, grading practices, and teen stress. Dr. Vatterott has been researching, writing, and speaking about K-12 homework in the United States, Canada, and Europe for over 20 years and is considered an international expert on homework. She first became interested in homework in the late 1990s as the frustrated parent of a 5th grader with learning disabilities. Her work with schools has been the catalyst for her latest research on teen stress.
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Top 10 Homework Tips
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Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.
Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!
Here are some tips to guide the way:
- Know the teachers — and what they're looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child's teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
- Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
- Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
- Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there's an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
- Make sure kids do their own work. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it's a kid's job to do the learning.
- Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
- Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
- Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
- If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.
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Home Learning Ideas, Activities and Guides For Primary and Secondary School Teachers
Home learning can be challenging. Here, you’ll find links to all the home learning maths support available for schools from Third Space Learning. Originally created during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s still available for schools to provide to pupils and their families during any other school closures.
Here’s how Third Space Learning can support home learning:
- Our one to one maths tuition continues to run for children in school
- If you are registered for our maths hub (it’s free for teachers and parents to register) you can access a range of free downloadable maths resources all created to help practise and revise the essential maths skills that children in Years 1 to 6 need. Look out for the home learning section.
- As well as the widely read articles for teachers and school leaders on the Third Space Learning blog we have added many articles designed to help demystify the maths curriculum and provide as much help and home learning ideas as possible for those supporting their children with maths at home. These are all linked from this page.
We’ve been supporting schools with online one to one tuition for over 10 years now, helping to raise attainment in maths across over 150,000 pupils. Our one-to-one maths programmes take place online with tutor support in schools. To raise attainment across the school, not only among those pupils receiving one-to-one tuition , schools additionally have premium access to our Maths Hub, home to hundreds of quality teaching resources and CPD.
In this blog, we’ve brought together a collection of guides, advice, tips and additional teaching resources that you can share with parents to continue pupils’ learning at home, or fill in any learning gaps as needed.
Download free maths resources from our mathshub
Find what you need in our collection of free and premium maths resources for teachers and parents. Register to join for free (works best with Google Chrome).
How to use these home learning ideas and activities
When it comes to home learning, as any Headteacher or Senior Leader knows, it’s not enough to just provide an online learning equivalent. Not only does the quality and quantity of online devices and computers at home vary hugely, but parents will also have varying capacities in their time or confidence to keep children going.
So, to help your parents get the most of the free resources we know you will be providing them with, we’ve brought together the following collection of guides, advice, tips and additional teaching resources, all centred around teaching maths. Every blog post contains ideas to keep children busy and engaged in maths at home and they’ve all been written with parents in mind.
We recommend adding a link to this page on your own school website to provide another source of support and guidance for parents on their home learning journey.
Free Home Learning Packs
If you’re a class teacher or parent looking for education resources specifically to help children with maths at home take a look at this list of all free home learning packs available to you.
These are online resources all available to use at home, with a range of free activities and lesson plans included in them. They’re ideal for homeschooling young people aged 5 to 12.
Why it’s all about maths All our tutors are maths specialists, our one to one tuition lessons tackle every topic in the primary maths curriculum and we confidently believe that our maths resources are the best available for schools and parents. However we aren’t yet English teaching specialists so you won’t find any English, PSHE or other subjects here. For them we recommend you seek out other high quality providers – BBC Bitesize is often a good starting point.
Home Learning Maths Curriculum Guides For Parents
As with teachers there’s a vast range in what parents already know about the primary maths curriculum and the transition to secondary maths. We’ve created these home learning toolkits as practical information guides to hand to parents and carers with children studying maths at school. Each one breaks down what the curriculum expects from learners in maths for each year group and then how parents can help support their children through it.
Year 2 Maths : Home Learning Toolkit for 6 and 7 Year Olds
Year 3 Maths : Home Learning Toolkit for 7 and 8 Year Olds Year 3 Maths Worksheets
Year 4 Maths : Home Learning Toolkit for 8 and 9 Year Olds Year 4 Maths Worksheets
Year 5 Maths : Home Learning Toolkit for 9 and 10 Year Olds Year 5 Maths Worksheets
Year 6 Maths : Home Learning Toolkit for 10 and 11 Year Olds Year 6 Maths Worksheets
Year 7 Maths : Home Learning Toolkit for 11 and 12 Year Olds
Maths for 11 Year Olds: Tips For SATs and Transition To Secondary Maths
Maths Homework: What Parents Should Know
You may be surprised both by how much parents know about some aspects (ask them about partitioning!) and occasionally by how little (who knew the difference between area and perimeter was so tricky to grasp?). The following guides break down all parents need to know about the major topics at primary school that children struggle with. They are designed so parent and child can work through them together at their own pace as part of their home learning work on maths at home .
- How To Teach Your Child To Learn Times Tables At Home
- How To Teach Your Child To Learn Fractions At Home
- How To Help Your Child When Comparing Fractions, Decimals, And Percentages
- How To Teach Your Child To Learn Short Division and Long Division At Home
And if this still isn’t enough we’ve also brought together a list of our top free maths homework sites and apps
Inspiring A Love of Maths: Why Maths Is Important
Parents as we know are their children’s first influencers and can have an enormous effect on how much children enjoy and even achieve in maths. Here at Third Space Learning, we love maths, we know how important it is and we believe everyone can do it.
But it’s completely normal for some children to struggle, some children to think they hate it, and some even to develop maths anxiety .
The article Why is Maths Important points you to lots of useful information and ideas on how to build up children’s resilience and improve both their attitude to maths and their ability to learn maths, covering topics such as growth mindset and metacognition along the way.
Home Learning Maths Games
As educators, we know it’s not all about fun but, when you’re trying to keep spirits high, injecting a bit of fun into maths at home doesn’t go amiss so keep a look out for our games and activities blogs.
First we’ve got 35 brilliant times tables games to lighten up what can be a bit of a laborious but essential journey to mastering times tables . Then we’ve also collected together our favourite free maths games to do at home just in time for home learning – all you’ll need is a paper and pen, and for some of them, a die or a pack of cards. Hours of fantastic maths fun and it doesn’t even need to stop when you have to go on a journey. We’ve included some activities for car journeys too!
We’re also adding to our collections with free KS2 maths games , KS1 maths games and KS3 maths games for all maths topics.
Primary Maths Curriculum Knowledge Buster
Much of the primary maths curriculum will be new to parents compared with how they were taught, and the terminology may flummox or confuse, so we’d encourage you to point them to our free Primary Maths Dictionary for Kids , deliberately created to help explain some of the trickier and more unusual terms.
All the key terms parents will come across from partitioning to perimeter are included in a dictionary format and then where needed, we provide links to additional guidance such as on BODMAS (or BIDMAS), square numbers , regular and irregular shapes and our favourite, maths word problems .
Each of the additional articles are tackled in a ‘What is’ format, suitable for KS1 and KS2 parents with sample questions and answers and how they are used in the primary maths curriculum. A bit like you’re likely to find on the knowledge organisers your school will hand out to show what children need to learn about a topic.
Topics covered like this so far include:
- What Is The Highest Common Factor
- What Is A Venn Diagram
- What Are Lowest Common Multiples
- What Is Place Value
- What Is A Unit Fraction
- What Is A Line Of Symmetry: Symmetrical Shapes Explained For Primary Parents And Kids
- What Is A Number Sentence: Explained For Primary Parents And Kids!
- What Is The Highest Common Factor: Explained For Primary Parents And Kids
- What Is A Prime Number?
- What Is Partitioning?
- What Is The 12 Hour And 24 Hour Clock?
- What Are Equivalent Fractions
- What Are Concrete Resources
We’re adding to this primary maths dictionary all the time but if we don’t cover it and you need us to, just get in touch [email protected] and we’ll write it for you! We’re open to requests from teachers as well as parents – it’s all valuable CPD.
Home Learning and Primary School Homework
Never will parents have such respect for teachers as they will after 48 hours of home learning. The principles of home learning apply equally to managing children’s homework in ordinary times. Wherever you sit on the homework debate and whether it’s necessary at primary school, most schools still subscribe to some degree of learning taking place at home, whether that’s phonics, weekly spellings, or daily Times Tables Rockstars.
Use our primary homework help guide for parents to understand what you need to know and how to embed good habits and routines in school homework – look out for top tips and hacks from parents with experience.
KS1 And KS2 SATs For Parents
Every year we give over 7,000 pupils online maths interventions to support them for their Key Stage 2 SATs . During Covid, SATs were cancelled but now that SATs are back , parents may find some of the tips and information helpful at this time. Plenty of the teaching content and revision techniques are applicable for Year 6 as a whole, not just the end of year assessments. Here is everything parents need to know about the KS1 and KS2 SATs .
We hope this blog helps in some way to support schools and families. Third Space Learning will be operating as usual through the crisis and we’re setting up all children to continue to receive their 1-to-1 maths intervention programmes from home.
Get in touch at [email protected] or on twitter or facebook if you need any support in maths, want to set up your own pupils with interactive one to one maths lessons or just generally fancy a chat. We’re always around!
Online 1-to-1 maths lessons trusted by schools and teachers Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of primary school children with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions . Since 2013 we’ve helped over 150,000 children become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote to speak to us about your needs and how we can help.
Primary school tuition targeted to the needs of each child and closely following the National Curriculum.
FREE Ultimate Maths Vocabulary List [KS1 & KS2]
An A-Z of key maths concepts to help you and your pupils get started creating your own dictionary of terms.
Use as a prompt to get pupils started with new concepts, or hand it out in full and encourage use throughout the year.
- Create new account
- Reset your password
Register and get FREE resources and activities
What is a learning log?
Primary school homework can be a chore for children and parents alike. Writing sentences, completing calculations and prescriptive research-based tasks are rarely inspiring, and getting your child to complete them can be an uphill struggle.
A growing number of schools, however, are replacing traditional homework with learning logs : a more creative and open-ended solution which not only appeals more to children, but also helps them learn.
A learning log, or learning journal, is a way for children to record their knowledge and understanding in whichever way suits them best, allowing them to take control of their learning.
The learning log itself is a blank-paged exercise book, usually at least A4-size. Each week, children are given a task (or tasks) based around something they’ve been learning at school, or will be learning in the new future. The task is always open-ended, rather than prescriptive, such as in these examples:
- ‘This week, we’ve been learning how to tell the time . Design something to teach other people how to tell the time.’
- ‘We saw lots of exciting things on our class trip to the Natural History Museum. Use these pages to record some of the things you found out.’
- ‘Next week we’re going to be reading the Bible story of Noah’s ark. What can you find out about Noah?’
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- Follow a weekly programme
- Maths & English resources
- Keeps your child's learning on track
The idea is that children can respond to the task in any way they want. They might draw pictures or diagrams, write prose or poetry, take photos, print out pictures from the internet or cut them out of magazines. They can also use any materials they want: pen, pencil, felt tips, paint, glitter, collage, stickers and so on.
The only stipulation is that their work has to fit on one double-page spread of the book. This ensures that the task is self-limiting, and children know how much they’re expected to do. They can, however, extend the page, for example by using flaps, pockets for cards and fold-out sections.
Sometimes, rather than being given a weekly task, children will be given a list of, say, 12 different tasks at the start of a half-term. They then choose one task from the list to complete each week.
The other key element of learning logs is that children get time to discuss and evaluate their work. This usually involves a session at the end of the week where children share what they’ve done, either in pairs, in small groups or as a whole class. They get to look at each other’s work and make comments on it, and reflect on what they’ve learned themselves. Good work is often shared in assembly.
The benefits of learning logs
There are many benefits to children using learning logs. They:
- Help children consolidate and extend what they’ve been learning in school.
- Encourage them to learn independently and to be creative.
- Help children take an active part in their learning, and be proud of their work.
- Are directed by the child, rather than the teacher, so each pupil can work at the right level for them, and be led by their own strengths and interests.
- Help children develop research skills .
- Cater for all abilities and learning styles: for example, a child who is a visual learner may draw lots of pictures and diagrams.
- Help to develop a partnership between home and school.
- Help teachers assess whether each child has understood the learning objective .
Ofsted recognises the role that learning logs can play in children’s learning. Inspectors have commented that, ‘personalised learning logs, in which pupils record their research and investigations at home, contribute strongly to their enthusiasm for learning and ability to write at length,’ and, ‘the use of home learning logs successfully develops pupils’ enthusiastic attitudes, and pupils show off their efforts to all who will listen.’
What children think about learning logs
Children are enthusiastic about learning logs because they can approach the task in whichever way suits them. Comments from Year 6 children at Inglehurst Junior School – one of the schools that pioneered the learning log approach to homework – include:
‘ I enjoy doing my learning log because we can talk to our teachers through our learning log. We can personalise them which makes it our own. On Thursdays we do peer partnership sessions, which is when we ask others about what they have been learning.’
‘I think learning logs are great because you can develop your own style, which makes yours different to everybody else’s. They are great for SATs revision .’
Helping your child with their learning log
Although learning logs are supposed to promote independent, child-led learning, there are nevertheless ways that you can support your child’s work.
- Encourage your child to talk about their task for the week. The process of explaining it to you will help consolidate their understanding and focus their mind on the direction they want to take.
- Set aside some time for your child to complete their learning log. Be led by them; some children like to do a little every day, while others prefer to do it in one session.
- Offer ideas for how they might present their work, and give them access to the resources they need, whether that’s the internet, information books, craft supplies, etc.
- Encourage your child to try different ways of filling in their learning log, rather than doing the same thing every week.
- Look at your child’s finished work with them and help them evaluate what they’ve done.
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Why panicked private-school parents are fighting each other for a place at the local comp
Posted: November 6, 2023 | Last updated: November 6, 2023
No wonder the Government’s schools website was down earlier this week. Labour’s proposal to charge VAT on school fees prompted a deluge of primary school applications from private school parents. They want to nab a place at a good local primary before their child’s classmates jump ship, too. It’s the same for secondary schools – shiny SUVs lined the car parks at grammar schools and outstanding academies on assessment days this autumn.
It’s a movement known in parental WhatsApp groups as “Swamp the comp” – the idea being that if enough private school families descend on the same, unsuspecting state school, they will have a positive effect on its performance.
“Labour’s VAT policy has made everyone twitchy,” says Troy Renard, a primary school teacher in Surrey who sends his two sons to a small local prep school. “It’s a misconception that private-school parents are rich. At our school there’s no one turning up in yoga gear: the breakfast and after-school clubs are full as both parents work flat out as doctors or lawyers to give their children the best start they can. We’re already paying for state school places we’re not using via our taxes and now we’ll have to pay thousands more in fees – it’s never made more sense to take up a state-school place.”
Private schools are as spooked as their fee-paying parents. A survey by Independent Schools Council found that 20 per cent of parents would “definitely” withdraw their children from private schools if the policy, which Labour says could raise £1.7 billion to invest in state schools, came into effect. The private sector, which represents about 600,000 children (or 7 per cent of the school-age population), is still recovering from Covid, when many furloughed parents were forced to pull their children out, and is now faced with higher running costs and lower intakes. As families feel the pinch of higher living costs and mortgage rates, “state ’til eight” has become “state ’til secondary” – an extra 20 per cent on school fees could keep them in the state sector forever.
The glossiest, richest schools will be able to absorb some of the tax. It is rumoured that Cheam, a prep school in Hampshire, will pass on only 12 to 13 per cent of the VAT to parents. Smaller, less wealthy schools will struggle to absorb so much.
Michael Armitage, deputy head at Amesbury School, a co-educational prep school on the Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex border, worries for small independent prep schools like his that prepare children for a wide variety of schools rather than being linked to a particular senior school. While numbers at Amesbury, which has a main building designed by Cenotaph architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, are currently healthy, Armitage knows that many of the parents are already stretching themselves almost to breaking point to afford the £12,000-a-year fee.
Other small independent schools are pre-emptively merging – Edgeborough School has recently fallen in with Charterhouse – while a few have given up entirely, such as Westward School in Surrey, St Mary’s Shaftesbury in Dorset and Ashdown House, Boris Johnson’s former prep school, in East Sussex. Redcliffe Gardens School in Chelsea, meanwhile, will shut at the end of the summer term.
“If Labour has their way, only the big, rich independent schools filled with the children of Russian billionaires will be left standing,” Renard says.
Even these might decide it’s not worth the effort, though; many of the big names in private education are propped up by private equity or education companies, who will close them if their profits are threatened. Parents of boys at Falcons Pre-Preparatory School in Chiswick, west London, which is owned by Inspired Education, an international private school company said to be worth more than £5 billion, have been told that the school will be closing in December because of a lack of pupils. And United Learning, the company that owns the Royal School in Haslemere, is attempting to cash-in by selling off part of its site to developers. These fat-cat schools groups are in it for profit, yet prep schools such as Amesbury exist purely for the good of the pupils and the local community, who benefit from jobs and facilities.
“Perhaps Labour should look at private schools on a case-by-case basis?”, says Armitage, whose two sons are at a state comprehensive. “Some schools probably don’t deserve charitable status but those like mine with no ulterior motive, who put every penny back into the school and send pupils to 25 different secondary schools, probably do.”
While pupils uprooted from Falcons have been offered a place at another Inspired Education establishment – Wetherby Preparatory School in west London, once attended by Princes William and Harry, is one of them – their parents might well decide to save their money and go state. This causes a problem, though, as the kind of state school they’ll want to send their children to is likely to be heavily oversubscribed. Already 60,000 children miss out on a place at their preferred primary school and in Bath and Wolverhampton there are schools taking only two in every five applicants.
“The state system is not ready for an influx – already the system forgets children who are academically mainstream and compliant as it struggles to look after those with additional learning, language and behavioural needs,” says Armitage.
The argument, of course, is that with an extra billion to play with, the state sector will be able to hire more teachers and invest in new equipment. Both Renard and Armitage, as teachers in the state system, long to see a more egalitarian education system where the state system offers the same opportunities for drama, sport and pastoral care as private schools. They don’t believe, though, that the money raised from VAT on private fees will make any difference at all. Indeed Geoff Barton, of the Association of School and College Leaders, maintains the Government needs to spend an extra £2 to £3 billion each year on education just to meet rising costs; if 20 per cent of privately educated children move across, it will be even more.
As Shaun Fenton, head of Reigate Grammar, points out, this would mean VAT is levied on just 3 or 4 per cent of the children rather than the 7 per cent labour has calculated. “Everyone knows this isn’t really going to raise any money and it’s not going to solve any education problems,” he told Times Radio. “And we’d be the only country in Europe doing this.”
Rather than benefiting state school children, Renard believes the tax could, in fact, lead to more “honey-pot” postcodes, where the rich compete to own houses in the catchment of an outstanding primary or secondary school, pricing out local families. “In the state sector itself there’s a two-tier system because of how admissions work and catchment areas. People with money are just going to buy the expensive houses near the amazing schools,” he says. “Until all the schools in every area are equal, which is never going to happen, there will be people with money pushing out those without.”
Already towns such as Hungerford, in Berkshire, and Taunton, in Somerset, which have a selection of reputable state schools that are not oversubscribed are drawing in Londoners, while families are specifically moving to counties such as Dorset, Northumberland and Bedfordshire where it is easiest to get into your first choice of state school.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose parents worked hard to send him to Winchester College, believes Labour’s proposal fails to understand the aspiration that drives many middle-class families.
For Armitage, who is a Labour supporter by birth and was state educated, it underestimates the value of small, independent schools that have been part of the fabric of British education for hundreds of years. “For me, taking a job in an independent school was a moral conundrum but I no longer feel any inverse snobbery,” he says. “All I see is people working hard and choosing to spend their money on a product that is benefiting their children. Labour’s proposal is a catchy headline that might win them some votes, but I’m not sure anyone will really be a winner.”
Are you considering withdrawing your children from private school? Let us know in the comments section below
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Homework in Preschool and Kindergarten
Homework from vanessa on Vimeo .
To do or not to do, that is the question! The topic of homework for young children is one that is fiercely debated in the field of early childhood education. Many parents and administrators are all for it, many teachers are against it.
Some schools mandate homework for Pre-K because they think it’s going to close the achievement gap, others do it because they think parents “expect it” and still others assign homework because it’s what they’ve always done. There’s a little something here for everyone, no matter what your situation.
Different types of homework has been shown to benefit different populations. The type of program you work in may also dictate the type of homework you send home, if any.
Parents and Homework
My goal for homework in my own classroom is to support and encourage parents as partners in their child’s education. It is my responsibility as the teacher to teach the required skills, but it is the parent’s job to help support me in my efforts. In other words, “It takes a village…” Some parents need more help and encouragement than others, it is also my job to offer that help and encouragement to those who need it.
Reading Aloud to Children as Homework
If you’re interested in reading more on this topic I encourage you to check out the online book study I hosted for The Read-Aloud Handbook .
Meaningful Homework Activities for Parents to Do With Children
The book Just Right Homework Activities for Pre-K offers many meaningful activities that parents can do at home with their children. It includes detailed instructions for parents for each activity as well as blackline masters.
When working with Title 1 and programs that serve at-risk populations it may be necessary to provide parent training through educational sessions. All parents want to help their children, but not all parents know how to do so.
I created the video at the top of this page to show to parents at our “Homework Help” educational session.
Printable Personalized Practice Cards
With just one click of a button in ESGI , you can quickly generate parent letters for each child in your class along with corresponding flash cards, specifically aligned to each child’s individual needs.
Click HERE to try ESGI free for 60 days and use promo code PREKPAGES to save $40 off your first year!
In the beginning, some components of a structured homework program might include:
- First Name Identification & Writing Practice
- Number Identification and Counting
- Color Recognition- for those that need it
- Shape Recognition-for those that need it
- Letter Recognition
- Books for parents to read aloud to their child (See my take-home book program )
As young children mature and their needs change some changes to the homework may be necessary, such as:
- Last Name Identification & Writing Practice
- Sight Words (for those who are ready)
- Number identification, 20 and up
- Rhyming and other phonemic awareness skills
- Letter sounds
Of course, differentiation for students performing above or below grade level expectations should always be taken into consideration when assigning homework.
How Do I Get Started Setting Up a Homework Program?
Step 1 : Prepare your materials. Prepare the following materials to give to each child.
- Name Card and Letter Tiles : Prepare a name card for every student using ABC Print Arrow font (see resources section) then print on cardstock and laminate. You could also use a sentence strip and a permanent to create name cards. You can use letter tiles from Wal-Mart or Staples or you can cut a matching sentence strip apart between the letters to make the name puzzle.
- Number Flash Cards: You can use a simple font to type the numbers into a document in Word, print, laminate, cut, hole punch, and put on rings. The rings are highly recommended so the cards don’t become lost. You can also find free, printable number flash cards on-line.
- Letter Flash Cards: The letter flash cards at left were made in Word using the ABC Print font, just print, laminate, cut, hole punch, and put on rings. Don’t forget to make one set of upper and one set of lowercase. The rings are highly recommended so the cards don’t become lost.
- Color Flash Cards: The color flash cards pictured above were made by placing color stickers on paper. You can also find free, printable color flash cards on-line. The rings are highly recommended so the cards don’t become lost.
- Shape Flash Cards: You can also find free, printable shape flash cards on-line. Just print, laminate, cut, hole punch, and put on rings.
Step 2: Next, you will need to create a system to communicate what activities you expect your students to do each night. One of the most effective ways to do this is by creating a monthly “Homework Calendar.”
You can download free calendars online that you can customize to meet your needs. In each space on the calendar indicate which activities you want parents to focus on each night, this helps parents from becoming overwhelmed. At the bottom of each space on the calendar there is a place for parents to sign indicating they have helped their child complete the assigned tasks. You can mark each space with a stamp or sticker to indicate your acknowledgement of homework completion. The homework calendars are kept in our BEAR books and carried back and forth by the child each day in his or her backpack.
If this method is too much for you then you may prefer the simpler Reading Log method .
Step 3: To implement a successful Pre-K Homework Program in your classroom you must meet with all the parents to explain your program. Do not expect your program to be successful without this critical component. Have an informational meeting or “Parent Night” and send home flyers to invite the parents. Make sure to include this event in your weekly newsletter as well.
When having parent education sessions such as this it is best to have some sort of prior arrangements made for the students and siblings to be outside of the classroom in an alternate location so the parents can focus on the information that is being presented.
- After parents have arrived and you have welcomed them and thanked them for attending, show them the homework video (see top of page).
- Next, use your document camera to show them the actual materials they will be receiving. Model how to use the materials and how to do each activity they were shown in the video.
- Show them a sample homework calendar and what to do with it.
- Explain your system for sending materials home in detail, for example will materials be sent home in a bag or a folder?
- Make sure parents thoroughly understand the purpose and expectations for your homework program as well as your system.
- Allow parents to ask questions and thank them again for attending.
You could also create a video like the one at the top of this page to show to parents.
- Homework should last no more than 5-10 minutes total each night including the book that parents read to their child.
- Worksheets should never be sent home as homework. This sends the message to parents that worksheets are an acceptable form of “work” and it is a good teaching practice when the exact opposite is true.
- Homework at this age should be fun and children should enjoy doing it. Advise parents that if their child does not seem to enjoy homework time they should make an appointment to see you so you can help them determine what is wrong and how to make it fun.
- Emphasize that reading to their children every day is the single most important thing they can do as parents. It is also highly recommended that you show the parents one of the following short video clips about the importance of reading to their children:
How to Help Your Child Read (English) How to Read Out Loud to Your Preschooler (English) Como ayudar a tu hijo leer (Spanish)
- Homework Tip Sheet
- Name homework explanation
- Ways to Help Your Child Learn the Alphabet at Home
- Supporting Math Skills at Home
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Systematic review article, parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement: a meta-analysis.
- College of Teacher Education, Ningbo University, Ningbo, China
Introduction: Given the importance of parent involvement to students' academic achievement, researchers have used a variety of methods to investigate the relationship between the two, but few focus on the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' achievement in a specific subject by using meta-analysis. This meta-analysis investigated the relationship between parent homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement from two dimensions: supportive (SPI) and intrusive parent homework involvement (IPI), along with their moderators.
Methods: Accessed through Web of Science, Taylor and Francis Online, EBSCO, Springer Link, Elsevier, and ProQuest databases, a total of 20 empirical studies between 2005 to 2022, 41 independent effect sizes were included ( N = 16,338). Effect size estimations were obtained by transforming Fisher's correlation coefficient. This study has conducted the heterogeneity tests of the magnitudes grouped according to different moderators, and investigated the publication bias that affects meta-analysis studies.
Results and discussion: The results showed an overall positive link between SPI and students' mathematics achievement ( r = 0.076, 95% CI = [0.037, 0.114]) and a negative link between IPI and students' mathematics achievement ( r = −0.153, 95% CI = [−0.226, −0.079]). For the link of SPI and students' mathematics achievement, the effect sizes were (a) strongest when SPI was measured by autonomy support, followed by content support and provision of structure respectively; (b) stronger when students' mathematics achievement indicated by non-standardized measurement than standardized measurement. For the link of IPI and students' mathematics achievement, the effect sizes varied across grade level, strongest in high school, followed by middle school and lowest in primary school. These findings provide important implications for how to improve parental homework involvement practice to increase students' mathematics achievement.
Homework as a valuable method of improving students' learning and academic achievement has been widely used across countries ( Cooper et al., 2000 ; Trautwein, 2007 ; Trautwein and Lüdtke, 2009 ; Núñez et al., 2015 ; Fan et al., 2017 ; Šilinskas and Kikas, 2019b ). Characterized by greater pressure and difficulty than other subjects, mathematics typically includes homework that requires help from parents ( Kitsantas et al., 2011 ). Although a plethora of studies have proved that students' mathematics achievement was related to parental homework involvement ( Patall et al., 2008 ; Dumont et al., 2012 ; Kikas et al., 2022 ), researchers have not reached a consistent conclusion on whether the relationship is positive or negative. Some argued that the two were positively related (e.g., Dumont et al., 2012 ; Gonida and Cortina, 2014 ; Lerner et al., 2021 ), while others found a negative link (e.g., Patall et al., 2008 ; Levpušček and Zupančič, 2009 ; Šilinskas et al., 2013 ; Šilinskas and Kikas, 2019b ), making parental homework involvement became the most controversial one among all other types of parent involvement ( Moroni et al., 2015 ).
Fiskerstrand (2022) recommended that it is essential to conduct a meta-analysis of the significance and causal–effect relationships at the indicator level between parental involvement and the mathematics outcome based on comparable quantitative methods. Thus, this study conducted a meta-analysis aimed at answering the following research questions:
(1) What is the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement in basic education?
(2) Whether the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement in basic education is influenced by a variety of moderating variables?
1.1. Parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement
Researchers have pointed out that the mixed conclusion was largely due to the types of parental involvement in homework (e.g., Ng et al., 2004 ; Pomerantz et al., 2007 ; Patall et al., 2008 ; Karbach et al., 2013 ; Gonida and Cortina, 2014 ; Suárez et al., 2014 ; Núñez et al., 2015 ), thus it is important to disentangle the different types of parental homework involvements, rather than to focus only on the quantity or frequency of involvement ( Balli et al., 1997 ; Fan and Chen, 2001 ; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2001 ; Pomerantz et al., 2007 ; Patall et al., 2008 ; Dumont et al., 2012 ).
Informed by the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) ( Ryan and Deci, 2000 , 2017 ), types of parental homework involvement were generally measured by two dimensions: supportive parental homework involvement (SPI) and intrusive parental homework involvement (IPI) ( Moroni et al., 2015 ; Xu et al., 2018 ). According to SDT, parents' supportive involvement, such as autonomy support, has a positive influence on maintained intrinsic motivation, enhanced internalization, and greater psychological adjustment and wellbeing, whereas the parents' intrusive involvement, such as controlling, has a negative effect on children's important outcomes, leaving children feeling less engaged, being viewed by teacher as less competent, and becoming more physically aggressive over time. In addition, these general results held in young people from both individualistic and collectivist cultures. When the relationship was discussed from these two dimensions, the conclusion became clearer. Specifically, when parental homework involvement has been characterized as supportive (i.e., support of autonomy and provision of structure), a positive relationship between SPI and students' achievement has been found ( Cooper et al., 2000 ; Pomerantz et al., 2005 ). However, IPI (i.e., controlling or monitoring) was generally associated with negative or null outcomes of student learning and achievement ( Ng et al., 2004 ; Brown, 2005 ; Pomerantz et al., 2007 ; Patall et al., 2008 ; Dumont et al., 2014 ; Gonida and Cortina, 2014 ; Moè et al., 2018 ; Xu et al., 2018 ; Šilinskas and Kikas, 2019b ).
In this meta-analysis, we expect to get a conclusion consistent with the abovementioned research and propose the following hypotheses:
H1: Students' mathematics achievement is positively related to supportive parental homework involvement (SPI).
H2: Students' mathematics achievement is negatively related to intrusive parental homework involvement (IPI).
1.2. Potential moderators
Findings from previous studies on the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' academic achievement are inconclusive. On the one hand, the insufficient sample size for each separate study may be the reason for the mixed results. On the other hand, results vary depending on factors such as the different dimensions of the parental homework involvement measured (e.g., parent homework control vs. parents homework support; Kikas et al., 2022 ); different participants' types (e.g., students vs. parents vs. teachers; Erdem and Kaya, 2020 ); different measuring tools of students' mathematics achievement (e.g., non-standardized measurement vs. standardized test; Jeynes, 2005 ; Castro et al., 2015 ); different demographics characteristics such student grade level (e.g., primary school vs. Middle school vs. High school; Núñez et al., 2015 ), region and culture (e.g., minority vs. white students; Jeynes, 2005 ) among studies. Meanwhile, different study attributes, such as the type and year of publications, may also lead to inconsistent research results. Therefore, this meta-analysis addressed the small sample size issue and tested the moderating effects from three aspects: measurement tools, demographic variables, and study attributes, in order to model different results across studies.
1.2.1. Measuring tools
22.214.171.124. type of spi and ipi.
How SPI and IPI were measured may lead to distinctive results. By comparing the questionnaires of SPI and IPI in past research, we found that SPI may measure several typical sub-types, including autonomy support, content support, and provision of structure, while IPI was generally measured by parental control and interference. Specifically, questions such as “My parents convey confidence in my ability to do math homework assignments ( Xu and Corno, 2022 ); When my parents help me with my school work, they always encourage me to find the correct answer by myself ( Karbach et al., 2013 )” were used to measure parent autonomy support, which can be defined as “allowing children to explore their environment, initiate their own behavior, and take an active role in solving problems” ( Pomerantz et al., 2007 ). SDT indicated that when acting with autonomy, behaviors are engaged wholeheartedly, whereas one experiences incongruence, and conflict when doing what is contrary to one's volition. What is more important in most settings having support for autonomy as a contextual factor plays a critical role in allowing individuals to actively satisfy all of their needs—to gravitate toward, make relevant choices in relation to, and employ optimizing strategies for satisfying each basic need ( Ryan and Deci, 2017 ). In other words, autonomy support is seen as the most critical aspect of the satisfaction of human psychological needs. Thus, it is believed that when parental homework involvement is measured by autonomy support, the largest correlation should be discovered in the SPI-students' mathematics achievement link.
Questions such as “My parents help me with math if I ask them; I can always ask my parents if I don't understand something in math” were used to measure content support, another sub-type of SPI, referring to the extent to which parents provide direct help on homework when asked by children ( Xu et al., 2018 ; Xu and Corno, 2022 ). By being available for help if needed, content support tends to increase students' sense of autonomy, sense of competence, and persistence in learning ( Moorman and Pomerantz, 2008 ). Nevertheless, Xu et al. (2018) revealed that as compared with parental autonomy support, parental content support may backfire even when asked by children. Since parental content support may lead to a sense of incompetence in children, and when asked by children for content support, many parents may find it difficult to withdraw their support as children become more competent and are well on their own. Therefore, we speculate that when parental homework involvement is measured by content support, it may also have a positive impact on students' math achievement, although this correlation may not be as significant as the parent autonomy support students' math achievement link.
Questions such as “Do you provide incentives for your child to finish his/her mathematics homework ( O'Sullivan et al., 2014 ); whether the television was on or off when their child did homework ( Cooper et al., 2000 )” were used to measure “provision of structure”, referring to the degree of parents provide clear and consistent guidelines and follow through on contingencies for their children's homework ( Cooper et al., 2000 ). SDT indicated that the provision of structure supports one's competence needs. The need for competence is evident as an inherent striving, manifested in curiosity, manipulation, and a wide range of epistemic motives ( Deci and Moller, 2005 ). In this way, parental provision of structure may enhance children's sense of competence, believing that they can exert a positive influence on their grades and other academic outcomes ( O'Sullivan et al., 2014 ). Nevertheless, Wang and Cai (2017) indicated that the impact of the parental provision of structure on students' math achievement may largely depend on how students perceive their parents' behavior. For example, parental provision of structure is positively associated with students' academic performance in China, given that Chinese children may perceive parental provision of structure as an act of love. Thus, we speculate that when parental homework involvement is measured by the provision of structure, it may have a positive impact on students' math achievement, provided that students view it as a supportive involvement.
H3-a: The positive correlation is strongest when SPI was measured by autonomy support, followed by content support and provision of structure, respectively.
For IPI, questions such as “Me doing homework is very important to my parents; My parents scold and punish me if I don't do all the homework ( Núñez et al., 2015 ); I insisted my child do things in my way when it came to doing his/her math homework ( Wu et al., 2022 )” were used to measure parent homework controlling, which can be defined as “control and pressure on student to complete assignments” ( Šilinskas and Kikas, 2019b ). Questions such as “My parents often interfere when I'm doing my math homework; When I'm doing math homework, my parents ask if I need help ( Kikas et al., 2022 )” were used to measure parental interference which refers to parents' tendency to solve the students' homework although the student has not asked for it or interrupting student in their homework ( Moroni et al., 2015 ). It has been shown that parental control decreases students' sense of autonomy, sense of competence, and effort in challenging learning situations ( Pomerantz et al., 2007 ). On the other hand, interference was the most damaging type of parental homework involvement because it undermined mastery goal orientation and reduced perceived competence ( Gonida and Cortina, 2014 ). Thus, we generate the following hypothesis:
H3-b: The negative correlation is strongest when IPI was measured by interference, followed by controlling.
126.96.36.199. Questionnaire reporter
Parental homework involvement questionnaire reporters might have an impact on the parental homework involvement-students' math achievement link, as parents' and students' perceptions regarding parental homework involvement may differ. It is likely that students' perceptions of parental homework involvement are more real or “knowable” to them than the actual nature or extent of parents' behavior related to homework ( Grolnick and Slowiaczek, 1994 ; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005 ). Studies have also pointed out that students' interpretations of parental involvement often shape their responses to that involvement and are therefore more closely related to their development than parents' actual behavior ( Schaefer, 1965 ; Grolnick et al., 1991 ; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005 ). Based on that, we can speculate as follows:
H4: When the parental homework involvement questionnaire is reported by students, the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' math achievement is stronger than when reported by parents themselves.
188.8.131.52. Mathematics achievement indicator
Different indicators of students' mathematics achievement may also yield different results. Andrews and Harlen (2006) suggested that various assessments of academic achievement could present problems during the synthesis stage of the study that would challenge the usefulness of the findings. A meta-analysis further revealed that “the manner of assessing student scholastic performance did not seem to impact the existence of the relationship between parental involvement and academic achievement. It did, however, affect the strength of that relationship” ( Wilder, 2014 ). Compared to standardized tests that typically have tighter confidence intervals and smaller standard deviations for the test scores, non-standardized measurement can be easily influenced by many factors or biases of the assessor. Since Jeynes (2005) revealed that the teacher as a significant person in rating students' mathematics performance is likely to be influenced by a high degree of parent involvement. It is possible that when students' mathematics achievement is reported by non-standardized measurement, larger parental homework involvement-students' mathematics achievement links may find. Given this, we propose the following hypothesis:
H5: In both SPI-students' math achievement and IPI-students' math achievement link, students' mathematics achievement reported by non-standardized measurement have larger links than those reported by standardized tests.
1.2.2. Demographic variables
Differences in culture might also drive inconsistent results. Since the existing research on the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement was mainly conducted in a certain area, it remained a research gap to investigate the potential moderating effect of cultural background, so we test it in this meta-analysis. Danişman (2017) , pointed out that the moderating effect of culture was statistically significant in the parent involvement and students' achievement link ( Q = 5.382, p < 0.05). Specifically, parents from collectivist countries ( r = 0.43) had a stronger effect on student achievement than those from individualist ( r = 0.30) countries. According to Hofstede (1991) cultural dimensions theory, people in collectivist cultures feel as if they belong to larger in-groups or collectives which care for them in exchange for loyalty. As a result, a collectivist culture is especially likely to emphasize the importance of social harmony, respectfulness, and group needs over individual needs. Thus, the relationship between parents and children might be closer in collectivist cultures, and parental homework involvement may have a greater impact on students' math achievement. On the contrary, people who live in individualist cultures tend to believe that independence, competition, and personal achievement are more important. Children tend to complete their homework independently. Thus, parental homework involvement may not have a significant impact on students' math achievement.
H6: Compared with individualism, the correlation between parents' homework involvement and students' math achievement under the collectivism culture is stronger.
184.108.40.206. Grade level
Past studies suggested that students' grade levels moderated the link between parental homework involvement and students' achievement (e.g., Skaliotis, 2010 ). Since younger students appear to have less developed study habits, parental homework involvement has been found to have desirable effects on elementary school students ( Dufresne and Kobasigawa, 1989 ). However, others found contradictory results that the relationship between perceived parental homework involvement and academic achievement was stronger in middle high school and high school than in elementary school ( Núñez et al., 2015 ). The inconsistent conclusion largely fails to consider the type of parental homework involvement. We speculate that lower-grade students often lack the ability to self-control and self-management, and have not formed good learning habits or strategies yet. At this stage, parental supportive homework involvement will have the strongest effect on improving their academic achievement. Furthermore, younger students, who have not yet developed independent personalities, rely more on their parents' help, therefore might have a greater tolerance for parental control or interference in homework. However, students in middle and high school have gradually developed an independent learning style, and they no longer require much supportive homework involvement from their parents, making the correlation between SPI and math achievement weakened. Furthermore, puberty sharply distinguishes middle and high school students from other students, by changing their brains yielding greater emotional intensity ( Nelson et al., 2012 ). SDT also revealed that psychological needs, satisfactions, and frustrations vary within persons over time. Therefore, IPI may cause their extremely strong resistance, and eventually lead to a stronger negative impact on middle and high school students' math achievement. We generate the following hypothesis, hoping to adjudicate these mixed results:
H7-a: As students' grades increase, the correlation between SPI and students' math achievement gradually weakens.
H7-b: As students' grades increase, the correlation between IPI and students' math achievement gradually strengthens.
1.2.3. Study attributes
220.127.116.11. publication type.
Publication type may affect the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement. It has been well established that journals are more likely to publish significant findings than non-significant findings ( Card, 2015 ), and the non-significant results are usually excluded from quantitative reviews of research results. Therefore, the effect size may be larger in journal articles than in dissertations.
18.104.22.168. Publication year
The publication year of studies may moderate the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement. From the perspective of technological progress, the rapid development of information technology has brought a new look to student mathematics learning. Using online homework tools in mathematics learning has thus become a new phenomenon that complements traditional homework ( Sarmiento, 2017 ). Though such web-based mathematics homework can help students obtain skills that lessen anxiety and raise students' consciousness in the learning process ( Albelbisi, 2019 ), it often requires more parental involvement as well. Meanwhile, global, national, and local policies also started to promote the importance of parent education involvement and advocate for a greater role of parents in education in order to enhance the academic achievement of their children ( Englund et al., 2004 ). Therefore, parental homework involvement behavior may increase over time, and the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement might become stronger.
1.3. This study
In this meta-analysis, we aim to synthesize the results of previous studies testing the impact of SPI and IPI on students' mathematics achievement and to identify the potential factors that moderate it. First, we sum up the overall effect size of the relationship between SPI and students' mathematics achievement, IPI, and students' mathematics achievement, respectively. Next, we explore whether this relationship differs across measuring tools (type of SPI/IPI, questionnaire reporter, mathematics achievement indicator), demographics (culture and grade level), and study attributes (publication type and year) by testing moderators.
2. Research methods
2.1. literature search and screening.
This study mainly uses electronic retrieval to collect journals and doctoral dissertations about the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement (Unpublished documents such as government documents and conference papers are not included in the search scope) between June 2005 (No earlier studies of parental homework involvement and student's mathematics achievement) to December 2022. We searched the following databases: Web of Science, Taylor and Francis Online, EBSCO, Springer Link, Elsevier, and ProQuest databases. Meanwhile, Google Scholar was used to assist with retrieval.
The literature search has gone through two rounds of procedures. The first round was extensive searching through keywords compilation. During the search process, it was found that there were few relevant articles about the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement. Most of the studies on the relationship between them were included in a broader scope of “parent involvement and students' academic achievements” for discussion. In order to collect articles as much as possible, we took the following as the retrieval formula, combining three retrieval fields of subject, title, and full text:
(parent involvement OR parent engagement OR parent participation OR parent help) AND (academic achievements OR academic attainment OR academic outcomes OR academic scores OR academic grades).
A total of 338 articles were obtained in the first round of large-scale retrieval. The second round of retrieval was based on citation backtracking. By tracking the references and cited articles of the articles obtained from the first round, 96 articles were obtained in this round. After deleting 25 repetitive articles, 409 articles were obtained in two rounds.
Subsequently, we began two rounds of screening for these 409 articles. By reading the titles and abstracts, 103 articles unrelated to the research question were excluded in the first round of screening. The second round of screening was conducted by reading the full text of the remaining 306 articles. The inclusion criteria for this round of screening are as follows (see Figure 1 for a flow chart of the article selection process): (1) only empirical studies are included; (2) the Pearson's product-moment correlation coefficient r between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement is clearly reported; (3) it reports the measuring tool of students' mathematics achievement (The mathematics achievement here do not include comprehensive achievement including math, such as GPA, composite scores of language and math, etc.); and (4) it reports the sample size. By reading the abstract and full text while screening according to the above criteria, 20 articles published between 2005 and 2022 met the requirements and were finally included in the study.
Figure 1 . Flow diagram of literature search and study inclusion criteria.
2.2. Coding variables
The selected articles were coded according to the constituent elements, and each independent sample was coded only once (See Table 1 for coding results).
1. References: Author, Year of publication (if the same study contains multiple results, it shall be distinguished by serial number).
2. Type of SPI/IPI 1 : Supportive (Autonomy Support, Content Support, Provision of Structure); Intrusive (Controlling, Interference).
3. Questionnaire reporter: Students; Parents.
4. Mathematics achievement indicator 2 : Standardized measurement; Non-standardized measurement.
5. Culture: Individualist; Collectivist (Refer to the evaluation results of Hofstede Cultural Guide for judgment of cultural background of different countries/regions: https://www.hofstede-insights.com/ ).
6. Grade level: Primary school; Middle school; High school; Mixed.
7. Publication type: Journal; Doctoral dissertation.
Table 1 . Characteristics of the 41 studies in the meta-analysis.
In order to ensure the coding reliability, two researchers who studied and regularly run meta-analyses coded the included articles separately. Cohen's kappa coefficient was used to analyze the consistency of the two researchers coding results for the two moderators (types of SPI/IPI, mathematics achievement indicators) that may have different opinions. Results showed that Cohen's kappa coefficient was 0.969 ( p < 0.0001) and 0.945 ( p < 0.0001), respectively, indicating that there was a strong consistency between them. Then, the two researchers discussed their disagreements and agreed on the final codes via consensus.
2.3. Assessment of study quality
The methodology quality of included studies was assessed by two independent reviewers using the standardized critical appraisal instruments prepared by the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI). For cross-sectional surveys, the JBI Critical Appraisal Checklist for prevalence studies was used. This tool comprised nine questions, and studies that obtained five or more “Yes” ratings out of nine were included in the review ( Munn et al., 2015 ). For longitudinal studies (e.g., Šilinskas et al., 2013 ; Viljaranta et al., 2018 ; Šilinskas and Kikas, 2019a , b ; Kikas et al., 2022 ), JBI Critical Appraisal Checklist for cohort studies was used. This tool comprised eleven questions, and studies that obtained <6 “Yes” scores were excluded. The final score consistency of the two independent reviewers was 0.85. All 20 studies met the inclusion standard, indicating that the quality of the studies included in this study met the analysis requirements.
2.4. Effect size calculation
In this meta-analysis, data were analyzed using Comprehensive Meta Analysis 3.0, and Pearson's product–moment correlation coefficient r was used to calculate the effect size. First, we extracted the initial effect size in each study, that is, the correlation coefficient r between parents' homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement. Then, Fisher's z-transformation was applied to r , weighted based on the sample size with 95% confidence intervals: Z = 0.5 * ln [(1 + r)/(1 – r)], where the variance of Z is V Z = 1/n−3 and the standard deviation of Z is SE Z = square root of (1/n−3).
2.5. Data processing and analysis
Homogeneity tests determined whether each result was significantly different from the overall effect size, which informs the selection of a fixed-effect model vs. a random-effect model. If a homogeneity test shows that the effect size is homogeneous, a fixed-effect model is used. If it indicates significantly large heterogeneity in the effect size, a random-effect model is used. In addition, large heterogeneity suggests potential moderation effects ( Lipsey and Wilson, 2001 ; Card et al., 2010 ).
2.6. Sensitivity analysis
We conducted a cumulative analysis to assess if the effect size estimate stabilizes with the inclusion of studies. If any new study produces a sudden shift as the volume of data accumulates, then there might exist a bias ( Borenstein et al., 2009 ).
2.7. Evaluation of publication bias
We assessed the risk of publication bias through funnel plot and Egger's linear regression method to determine whether potential bias affects the validity and robustness of research results under different circumstances. CMA software is used to draw funnel plots that can visually identify deviations, and Egger's regression method is used to quantify the asymmetry of funnel plots. The assumption is that, without publication bias, the scattered points representing each study will be symmetrically distributed on both sides of the average effect quantity, and the intercept of Egger's regression is close to 0 and not significant ( Egger et al., 1997 ). On the contrary, when the scatter points are asymmetric and the p -value of Egger's test is <0.05, it indicates the existence of publication bias.
3.1. Effect size and homogeneity tests
This meta-analysis of 20 articles and 41 independent effect sizes had 16,338 participants. The sample sizes of the studies ranged from 33 to 3,018. The average sample size is about 583, and the time span is 2005–2022. As illustrated in the Table 2 and forest plot of SPI and IPI (see Figures 2 , 3 ), the homogeneity tests for 22 independent samples of SPI and 19 independent samples of IPI both showed substantial heterogeneity among the selected studies ( Q SPI = 94.391, df = 21, p < 0.0001; Q IPI = 297.629, df = 18, p < 0.0001) and likely moderation effects. Meanwhile, I SPI 2 = 77.752%, I IPI 2 = 93.952%, both are larger than 75%, indicating that there were variables moderating the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' math achievement ( I 2 values: 25% [low], 50% [medium], 75% [high]; Higgins and Thompson, 2002 ), so a random-effect model was used.
Table 2 . Random-effect model of the correlation between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement.
Figure 2 . Forest plot for the random-effects model of 22 studies (SPI).
Figure 3 . Forest plot for the random-effects model of 19 studies (IPI).
The random-effect model showed a significant positive correlation between SPI and students' math achievement ( r = 0.076, 95% CI = [0.037, 0.114]), and a significant negative correlation between IPI and students' math achievement ( r = −0.153, 95% CI = [−0.226, −0.079]).
3.2. Sensitivity analysis
As is shown in Figures 4 , 5 , the effect size tended to stabilize and the confidence intervals tended to narrow as studies were added to the analysis, which suggests that the results were robust to our assumptions.
Figure 4 . Cumulative analysis results for 22 SPI studies.
Figure 5 . Cumulative analysis results for 19 IPI studies.
3.3. Publication bias tests
As shown in Figures 6 , 7 , there was no obvious asymmetry in the funnel plots, which indicated that there was no publication bias. In addition, Egger's regression test showed that t SPI(22) = 0.092, p = 0.928; t IPI(19) = 1.169, p = 0.258, which further verified that there was no potential publication bias in the data set. Therefore, the abovementioned tests support that the effects included in this study have no publication bias.
Figure 6 . Funnel plot of effect sizes of the correlation between SPI and students' mathematics achievement.
Figure 7 . Funnel plot of effect sizes of the correlation between IPI and students' mathematics achievement.
3.4. Moderator analysis
We used a meta-analysis of variance to test the potential moderate effect of six categories of variables: type of SPI/IPI, questionnaire reporter, mathematics achievement indicator, culture, grade level, and publication type. Meanwhile, meta-regression analysis was used to test the potential moderating effect of the publication year (see Tables 3 , 4 ).
Table 3 . Correlation between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement: Univariate analysis of variance for the moderator variables (categorical variables).
Table 4 . The correlation between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement: Univariate regression analysis of continuous variables (random-effects model).
3.4.1. Measuring tools
22.214.171.124. type of spi/ipi.
The homogeneity tests results showed that three different sub-types of supportive parental homework involvement can significantly moderate the relationship between SPI and students' mathematics achievement ( Q BET SPI = 6.216, df = 2, p = 0.045), while two sub-types of intrusive parental homework involvement had no moderating effect on the relationship between IPI and students' mathematics achievement ( Q BET IPI = 0.004, df = 1, p = 0.950). Specifically, when SPI was measured as autonomy support, content support, and provision of structure, respectively, the correlation between SPI and students' mathematics achievement decreased successively and even showed a weak negative correlation when measured as the provision of structure ( r SPI − AS = 0.133, 95% CI = [0.084, 0.181]; r SPI − CS =0.049, 95% CI = [−0.002, 0.099]; r SPI − PS = −0.009, 95% CI = [−0.243, 0.227]).
126.96.36.199. Questionnaire reporter
The homogeneity test results showed that the questionnaire reporter has no moderating effect on the relationship between both SPI-students' math achievement link and IPI-students' math achievement ( Q BETS PI = 2.293, df = 1, p = 0.084; Q BET IPI = 0.962, df = 1, p = 0.327).
188.8.131.52. Mathematics achievement indicator
The homogeneity test results showed that it can significantly moderate the relationship between SPI and students' mathematics achievement ( Q BET SPI = 14.423, df =1, p = 0.009), but has no effect on the relationship between IPI and students' mathematics achievement ( Q BET IPI = 1.225, df = 1, p = 0.233). When students' mathematics achievement was indicated by non-standardized measurement, the correlation was stronger than indicated by standardized measurement ( r SPI-non-standardized = 0.123, 95% CI = [0.087, 0.159], r SPI-standardized = 0.036, 95% CI = [−0.019, 0.091]).
3.4.2. Demographic variables
Homogeneity test results showed that although cultural background could not moderate the relationship between SPI and students' mathematics achievement ( Q BET SPI = 0.088, df = 1, p = 0.767), it could significantly moderate the relationship between IPI and students' mathematics achievement ( Q BET IPI = 70.039, df = 1, p < 0.0001). However, given that the collectivist category included only one independent sample, we supposed that this moderating effect was not representative.
184.108.40.206. Grade level
Homogeneity test results indicated that it could not significantly moderate the relationship between SPI and students' mathematics achievement ( Q BET SPI = 6.682, df = 3, p = 0.083), but it could significantly moderate the relationship between IPI and students' mathematics achievement ( Q BET IPI = 21.041, df = 3, p < 0.0001). To be more specific, with the increase in the grade level, the correlation between IPI and students' math achievement was gradually increasing ( r IPI-primary < r IPI-middle < r IPI-high : −0.093 < −0.228 < −0.360).
3.4.3. Study attributes
220.127.116.11. publication type.
Homogeneity test results showed that it has a moderating effect on the relationship between SPI and students' math achievement ( Q BET SPI = 3.970, df = 1, p = 0.046); but no moderating effect between IPI and students' math achievement ( Q BET IPI = 0.994, df = 1, p = 0.319). However, considering that the source of 22 SPI studies only includes one doctoral dissertation (three independent samples from the dissertation were actually all from Nwokedi (2020) doctoral dissertation), we supposed that this moderation effect of publication type was not representative.
18.104.22.168. Publication year
The results of the meta-regression analysis show that the publication year has no moderating effect on the relationship between SPI, IPI, and students' math achievement ( Q Model [1, k = 22] = 2.94, p = 0.086; Q Model [1, k = 19] = 0.84, p = 0.358, respectively).
This study analyzed the effects of 22 independent samples of SPI and 19 independent samples of IPI on students' mathematics achievement from 2005 to 2022. The results showed that SPI was significantly positively correlated with students' mathematics achievement, while IPI was significantly negatively correlated with students' mathematics achievement. Among them, the type of SPI, mathematics achievement indicators, and grade level moderated those effects.
4.1. Parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement
The results of meta-analysis support the hypotheses H1 and H2 that student's mathematics achievement was positively related to SPI and negatively related to IPI. These findings refute previous studies that reported non-significant or only negative correlations between parental homework involvement and math achievements (e.g., Karbach et al., 2013 ), demonstrating the value of supporting children's autonomy. As SDT states, autonomy, competence, and relatedness are three innate psychological needs of human beings, when they are satisfied, it yields enhanced self-motivation and mental health and when they are thwarted, it led to diminished motivation and wellbeing ( Ryan and Deci, 2000 ). By enhancing students' feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness which contributes to their intrinsic motivation, SPI can improve students' mathematics achievement. In contrast, when parental homework involvement is intrusive, students' innate needs for competence, autonomy, and psychological relatedness were undermined ( Moroni et al., 2015 ) and their persistence during homework tend to diminish, thus it may have a negative impact on their math achievement ( Cooper et al., 2000 ; Grolnick and Pomerantz, 2009 ; Hill and Tyson, 2009 ; Dumont et al., 2012 , 2014 ).
The moderation tests showed that the link between SPI and students' mathematics achievement was moderated by three sub-types of SPI and mathematics achievement indicator, while the link between IPI and students' mathematics achievement was moderated by students' grade level; we will discuss these in the following subsections.
4.2.1. Measuring tools
22.214.171.124. type of spi.
Among the three sub-types of SPI, the largest correlation was found between parental autonomy support and students' mathematics achievement. But a small positive correlation was found in content support-students' math achievement link, and even a negative correlation was found between the parental provision of structure-students' math achievement link, partially rejecting hypothesis H3-a. The largest correlation between parental autonomy support and students' math achievement is congruent with previous research (e.g., Viljaranta et al., 2018 ). Furthermore, it supports the SDT argument—autonomy support as a contextual factor plays a critical role in allowing individuals to actively satisfy all their needs. Satisfaction with each of the three psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) is all facilitated by autonomy support ( Ryan and Deci, 2017 ).
What needs to be carefully explained is the intriguing results that why parental content support showed a weak positive correlation with students' math achievement, and when measured as the provision of structure it even showed a weak negative correlation. One explanatory reason may be that parental content support, even when requested, may lead to a sense of incompetence for children ( Xu et al., 2018 ; Xu and Corno, 2022 ). The sense of incompetence will lead to self-doubt, undermining children's self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation, and in turn reducing its positive impact on mathematical achievement. In addition, it is worth noting that although SDT indicated that parental provision of structure is critical in helping children develop a sense of control understanding and perceived competence, which become the basis for effective functioning ( Grolnick and Ryan, 1989 ; Soenens et al., 2010 ), the premise is that students can internalize the values behind the activities supported by parents. However, students may display behavioral compliance by adapting their behavior to parental directives in the presence of the parental provision of structure but fail to internalize the values ( Wang and Cai, 2017 ). For example, driven by Asian cultural values that emphasize interdependence and filial piety ( Pomerantz et al., 2011 ; Cheung and Pomerantz, 2012 ), students are more inclined to display behavioral compliance to show their obedience, even though they do not agree with their parents' arrangement. Over time, they fail to internalize the values behind parental structural support or even have an aversion, but they never show it, which leads to their inability to develop control awareness, understanding, and perception, and ultimately has a negative impact on mathematics achievement. In addition, Ryan and Deci (2017) indicated that without autonomy support, the structure is not likely to be internalized to a degree that yields identified or integrated motivation. Furthermore, findings confirm that more beneficial outcomes occur under autonomy-supportive, high-structure circumstances ( Grolnick et al., 2014 ). This provides inspiration for future parental homework involvement that a structuring parent is not one who just sets out rules and communicates consequences but who also facilitated the child in successfully enacting them and supports their autonomy as well.
126.96.36.199. Mathematics achievement indicator
For students' mathematics achievement, non-standardized measurement showed a greater correlation in the SPI-mathematics achievement link, echoing Jeynes (2005) research, supporting hypothesis H5. When parents are supportively involved in students' homework and their support is perceived by teachers, it may affect the validity of teachers using non-standardized measurement to rate students' math achievement. As a result, students' mathematics achievement will become more positive, leading to a larger positive correlation between supportive parent homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement link.
4.2.2. Grade level
In higher grade levels, IPI had stronger negative effects on students' mathematics achievement, supporting hypothesis H7-b. The moderating effect of grade level can be explained by the following aspects:
The first is the rising math anxiety of parents. This explanation was previously suggested by Maloney et al. (2015) that when higher-math-anxiety parents frequently help their children with math homework, their children learn less math over the course of the school year. Retanal et al. (2021) further proved that parents' math anxiety will have a negative impact on students' math achievement through parental intrusive homework involvement. On this basis, we can further deduce that the rising math anxiety of parents may be closely related to students' grade levels. As Hembree (1990) demonstrated that students' math anxiety varies in grade level: it is low or medium in primary school, and it then increases, peaks in the high school period, and slowly falls after graduation. For parents who involve in students' math homework, their anxiety may also differ across grade levels. To be more specific, the content of primary school mathematics homework is very basic, parent do not need to acquire expert knowledge and skills in mathematics to explain math problems in homework to their children ( Szczygieł, 2020 ). However, with the increase in grade level, the math curriculum is more complex and abstract, and students start to have difficulties maintaining good performance in mathematics ( Núñez et al., 2015 ). Correspondingly, parents may also feel more anxious when involved in advanced math homework, as they may lack sufficient knowledge and expertise ( Jeynes, 2007 ; Patall et al., 2008 ; Wilder, 2014 ). In general, the increase in grade level drives the increase of parents' math anxiety, and parents' math anxiety will have an indirect negative impact on students' math achievement through IPI, which makes the negative correlation between IPI and students' math achievement show a trend of increasing with the grade level.
In addition, the mental characteristics of students in different grades can also explain the results. Compared to students in middle and high school, young children have less effective study habits and are less capable of avoiding distractions ( Cooper and Valentine, 2001 ), thus parental control and interference are needed as an important way to help them focus and get rid of procrastination ( Bronson, 2000 ). In contrast, middle- and high-school students have more developed self-regulation skills ( Zimmerman and Pons, 1990 ), which supports them to become more autonomous, free, and independent, and conduct their learning in a more planned, conscious manner ( Gorgoz and Tican, 2020 ). In this case, parents' control and interference will disrupt their rhythm by undermining their innate needs for competence, autonomy, and psychological relatedness. Thus, they had a stronger negative impact on middle and high school students' math achievement.
Culture and publication type show moderating effects on IPI-mathematics achievement and SPI-mathematics achievement link respectively. However, we believe that such moderating effects are caused by uneven sample size distribution and therefore are not representative. This inspires future meta-analyses to retest the moderating effect of these two variables on the basis of richer data. Meanwhile, the homogeneity test results showed that questionnaire reporters have no moderating effect. The result echoes Thomas et al. (2020) , indicating a parallel between parent and student perception. Since many researchers believe that parents' and students' perceptions of what counts as parental involvement seem to vary ( Barge and Loges, 2003 ; DePlanty et al., 2007 ), further studies are needed to shed light on the mixed results.
This meta-analysis has theoretical, practical, and methodological implications. The findings indicate that an ecological theoretical model is needed to understand the outcome of students' mathematics achievement ( Bronfenbrenner, 1974 ). Whether students' autonomy is supported by parents' homework involvement, which is a type of interaction students experience in their immediate environment, plays an important role according to SDT theory ( Ryan and Deci, 2000 , 2017 ). The relationship between parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement is not an either-or issue. It is the type and quality of parental homework involvement that matters.
Practically, educators may utilize these findings to consider how to collaborate with parents in students' mathematics learning. First, schools can design and run family education workshops to increase parents' awareness of the value of autonomy support rather than just providing structural support, controlling, or interfering. Second, teachers may provide supportive counseling or direct strategies to help parents become more effectively involved in their children's homework, ensuring that instructional techniques parents use are in line with those being used by teachers. Third, teachers should use homework as a formative assessment tool to diagnose students' strengths and weaknesses in mathematics and improve instruction accordingly rather than just report summative scores to parents. It may reduce math anxiety of parents as grade level increases, and thus decrease instructive parental homework involvement and its negative impacts.
Methodologically, this meta-analysis showed the need to differentiate the type of parental homework involvement, mathematics achievement measurement, and grade level. Future studies should define different types of parental homework involvement more clearly and consider the impact of specific parental homework involvement types. Also, future studies should use standardized mathematics achievement tests to make the results more comparable. Furthermore, more longitudinal studies should be conducted to capture the differences across grade levels.
6. Limitations and prospects
Though this study followed meta-analysis methods and procedures, there are still some limitations in the classification of parental homework involvement, data collection, analysis of moderating variables, and selection of sample participants, which need to be improved in future research.
First, there is currently no comprehensive study on the classification of parental homework involvement, and questionnaires for each type of parental homework involvement are validated by the authors of included studies rather than standardized tests that have been widely used. Future studies should further classify parental homework involvement from a functional perspective and develop standardized scales to measure it. Second, in terms of data collection, this meta-analysis only included 41 independent samples. As more such studies accumulate, future meta-analysis might yield more profound results. In addition, we only examined the searchable literature published in English, thus future studies can expand the language range of literature search to Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, and so on. Third, regarding the analysis of moderating variables, there are significant differences in the sample size within some of the moderating variables examined in this study, which makes it difficult to ensure the robustness of the subgroup analysis results. Future research can further validate the analysis results of this study by enriching and balancing the number of studies within the moderating variable group. Finally, regarding the selection of sample groups, as the participants included were mainly focused on primary to high school students, future studies can include younger students (e.g., kindergarteners), school dropouts, or older adults.
This meta-analysis extends previous studies on the relationship between parental homework involvement and students' academic achievement with attention to types of parental involvement—supportive and intrusive, using mathematics as a specific subject. Through 41 effect sizes from 20 articles of 16,338 participants, we found a significant positive link between SPI and students' mathematics achievement and a negative link between IPI and students' mathematics achievement. The link between SPI and students' mathematics achievement differed across the three types of SPI (autonomy support, content support, and provision of structure) and mathematics achievement indicators. Specifically, autonomy support showed the strongest positive link, followed by content support and provision of structure. The link was stronger when measured by non-standardized measurements than standardized measurements. For the IPI-mathematics achievement link, it differed across students' grade levels, the negative link was strongest in high school, followed by middle school, and lowest in primary school.
Data availability statement
The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/ Supplementary material , further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author.
QJ: writing-original draft preparation and methodology. LS: writing-reviewing, editing, and supervision. DZ: conceptualization, writing-reviewing, editing, and supervision. WM: methodology, supervision, and writing-reviewing and editing. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.
This work was supported by National Social Science Fund of China-On Mechanism and Strategy of Classroom Assessment for Deeper Learning (Grant No: BHA180121).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.
The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1218534/full#supplementary-material
1. ^ The codes of parents' homework involvement types for each independent sample were based on the questionnaire items used by the sample. For example, “My parent helped me find a quiet area for doing my 7th grade math homework ( Nwokedi, 2020 )” focuses on the structural support behavior of parents in the homework process, so it was coded as “provision of structure”; “My parents will not let me watch TV, or play with my friends…until I have finished my homework ( Núñez et al., 2015 )”. This item refers to pressure on students to complete homework, hence it was coded as “controlling”.
2. ^ Standardized measurement came exclusively from standardized math tests, while non-standard measurement involves some forms of teacher rating, school rating, and parents rating, such as math curriculum grades and school report card grades. This practice is common among existing meta-analyses on the topic (e.g., Jeynes, 2005 ; Ma et al., 2016 ).
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Keywords: supportive parental homework involvement, intrusive parental homework involvement, students, mathematics achievement, meta-analysis
Citation: Jiang Q, Shi L, Zheng D and Mao W (2023) Parental homework involvement and students' mathematics achievement: a meta-analysis. Front. Psychol. 14:1218534. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1218534
Received: 07 May 2023; Accepted: 26 June 2023; Published: 13 July 2023.
Copyright © 2023 Jiang, Shi, Zheng and Mao. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Donghui Zheng, email@example.com
Blog The Education Hub
Sex education: What is RSHE and can parents access curriculum materials?
We want to make sure that young people can make informed decisions about their health, wellbeing and relationships, in a sensitive way that is appropriate for their age.
Parents need to have confidence in what their children are being taught in the classroom about relationships sex and health education (RSHE) and schools have a duty to share teaching materials.
To ensure young people continue to be taught about these issues appropriately, we are also reviewing the RSHE statutory guidance for schools and education settings.
What is RSHE and what do pupils learn?
RSHE stands for relationships, sex and health education.
Relationships education has been compulsory for pupils in primary education since September 2020, while secondary schools are required to teach students relationships and sex education (RSE). Health education is now compulsory in all schools too.
- In primary schools , the subjects should put in place the key building blocks for healthy, respectful relationships, focusing on family and friendships, in all contexts, including online. This will sit alongside the essential understanding of how to be healthy.
- At secondary school , teaching builds on this and develops pupils’ understanding of health, with an increased focus on risk areas such as drugs and alcohol, as well as introducing knowledge about intimate relationships and sex and how to have positive and healthy sexual relationships.
The current RSHE guidance can be found here.
Can parents see what is being taught in RSHE lessons?
Yes. Parents should be able to see what their children are being taught in RSHE lessons. Schools must share teaching materials with parents.
We are clear that schools must make sure all content they use is factual and age-appropriate and talk to parents, so they are aware of what their children are being taught.
The Education Secretary has written to all schools in England to remind them of their duty to share RSHE materials with parents when asked to. The letter makes it clear that companies providing teaching resources can’t use copyright law to prevent schools from doing so due to the public interest in parents being aware of what their children are being taught.
Gillian Keegan has also written an open letter to parents , outlining their rights, and to ensure sure they feel confident asking their child’s school to share RSHE teaching materials.
So, parents can share these materials freely?
A parent can share these materials with anyone who needs to see the materials, for example the other parents or carers. Or to use as evidence if they wish to make a complaint about the materials. However, a parent should not publish materials online or use commercially in any way. Doing so, would make the parents liable for breach of copyright.
Why are we carrying out a review on RSHE and what will it look at?
RSHE is an important part of the curriculum, and this review will ensure that it is being taught appropriately.
We are putting together an expert panel that will inform the review and will advise on how to put in place protection from pupils being introduced to things that they are too young to understand properly. The panel will also consider how age ratings can be introduced for different parts of the curriculum.
When will this review happen?
The review will be complete before the end of 2023.
Can I ask for my child to be removed from these lessons?
Parents have a right to request that their child is withdrawn from sex education, but not from relationships education.
Parents can ask their school for their child to be withdrawn from some or all of sex education lessons.
Does my child’s school have to teach RSHE?
It is mandatory for RSHE to be taught in all schools.
We expect all schools to teach the full RSHE curriculum to secondary age pupils and relationships and health education to primary age pupils.
Primary schools may also teach sex education where appropriate. The teaching of RSHE is reviewed by Ofsted at inspection.
Schools should also ensure that the policy meets the needs of pupils and parents and reflects the community they serve.
You may also be interested in:
- What do children and young people learn in relationship, sex and health education
- How we’re taking action to keep young people and children safe in our schools
- How we promote and teach online safety in schools?
Tags: Curriculum , primary school , Relationships and Sex Education , RSHE , RSHE review , schools , Secondary School , Sex education
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Trying to choose a school in England? Don’t rely on Ofsted reports
School leaders say parents should do their own homework to build an accurate picture of which is best for their child
- Ofsted’s ‘simplistic judgments’ no longer fit for purpose, schools experts warn
If Ofsted inspection reports do not paint an “accurate picture” of schools in England , how are parents able to choose one that suits their child? Headteachers and existing research suggests Ofsted judgments may not play as large a role as its defenders think.
Chris Ashley-Jones, the executive head of Hitherfield primary school in Streatham, south London, said he had shown 100 parents around the school during recent open days. “Not a single one of them mentioned Ofsted ,” he said.
Hitherfield primary has been rated as “good” by Ofsted since 2013 and is popular with local parents. But Ashley-Jones said the school had an unhappy short inspection earlier this year that left some staff members in tears.
“We feel that the inspection system is past its use-by date,” said Ashley-Jones, a head for 18 years. His advice for parents is not to rely on Ofsted and instead do their own homework.
School leaders who spoke to the Guardian had the following tips:
Visit the school
All school leaders agreed that there was no substitute to visiting schools and asking questions of teachers and especially of school leaders. School open days are the most obvious opportunities, but most schools are willing to accept visitors at other times if they book an appointment in advance. Resistance to arranging visits or meetings with the leadership team could be a warning sign in itself. Parents of children with special needs will want to speak to a school’s special needs coordinator. Location and transport links are also an important consideration.
Speak with parents and pupils
Another obvious method is to talk to parents with current or recent pupils at a school. But asking if it is a good school or not is not enough – more specific questions about the school’s behaviour policy are more helpful. Examples include its policy on hair and uniform, and frequency and length of detentions. Also ask about the school’s communications with parents, as well as the types of food served at lunch.
Find the performance tables
Exam results do not tell the full story, whether for Sats in primaries or GCSEs in secondaries. The Department for Educations’s performance tables include a wider range of information, including (for GCSEs) the school’s progress score, showing how much the average pupil improved compared with their peers nationally or in the local authority. The tables also have details about staffing and school finances, as well as size and governance.
Check attendance rates
Some heads said that while a school’s behaviour policy and practice might be difficult for outsiders to gauge, one proxy measure was the school’s attendance rates – because research suggests a link between general levels of behaviour and pupil absenteeism in secondary schools. But they cautioned that the Covid era may have weakened that link, with rising levels of absence in recent years.
Critically read the Ofsted report
Rather than ignore Ofsted, parents are advised to read what Ofsted has produced critically, looking beyond a single phrase such as “good” or “outstanding”. The first question is how old the report is. Inspections carried out four or more years ago are unlikely to be relevant. Similarly, a change in headteacher since the last inspection will also dilute its relevance.
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North Shore news powered by The Daily Item
Marblehead parents collide on school banner policy
November 6, 2023 by Ryan Vermette
MARBLEHEAD — As a result of the School Committee considering the adoption of a flag policy in the town’s schools, a divide has formed between parents who disagree on the raising and removing of ideological flags on school grounds.
The potential policy was a main point of discussion during public comment at the committee’s last meeting Thursday, in which multiple parents who have students in the METCO program mentioned that the recent removal of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) flag made their children feel unwelcome in the community.
“For a person of that stature to take down a flag when our kids already feel like they’re not welcome in your town, it makes us feel like that’s a slap in our face,” said METCO parent Nikkia Bell.
Fighting back tears, Tinieya Searcy, of Dorchester, described alleged discrimination her Black son is facing at Marblehead High School. Searcy said her son allegedly received comments regarding his skin color from a lunch lady that made him feel uncomfortable. She added that when the situation was brought to the attention of the principal and METCO director, no action was taken.
Now, following the removal of the BLM flag, Searcy fears for her child’s wellbeing and safety in a predominantly white school.
“My son should not have to go to that school and feel that way,” Searcy said. “Now the flag is being removed by a whole other parent? My son is not going to feel safe, my son is not going to feel welcome.”
The BLM flag first went “missing” last month, and the “unauthorized individual” that had removed the flag has now been identified as Marblehead parent Sharman Pollender.
During public comment, some attendees discussed a security camera video showing Pollender removing the flag.
The flag reappeared days later, but as a result of the incident, the School Committee decided to put in place a policy that would determine what flags can be hung up on school property and who has the authorization to hang up or remove flags.
Subsequently, the committee’s policy subcommittee held a meeting on Friday, Oct. 27 to discuss the addition of a flag policy. At the meeting, Pollender expressed a much different opinion from that of Bell and Searcy, saying that as a person of color, she finds the flag “offensive.”
“My children do not define themselves by their skin color, nor do I,” Pollender said. “Going forward, I really hope the School Committee considers taking all flags down until a policy is put in place, and then address it from there.”
Pollender also said that she had started discussions with then-superintendent John Buckey in 2021 on implementing a flag policy in the schools and claimed that he “was a hard stop” on all others except the American and Commonwealth flags.
District parent Nyla Dubois also agreed at the policy subcommittee meeting that the flags should be taken down because they “really turn kids into political abstractions.”
Acting Superintendent Michelle Cresta noted that the BLM flag was placed as a result of a student-led movement.
At Thursday’s meeting, a group of high school students spoke of their disappointment in the school committee for scheduling the policy subcommittee meeting during school hours.
“We were disappointed because this issue was directly related to us as students, and we feel students should be more included in the process more formally and more fully,” one student said.
Marblehead High School student Paige Fletcher noted that current flags hanging in the school cafeteria include BLM, Juneteenth, and Pride flags. She said that the flags “signify that our schools are a safe place where students can feel included, represented, and respected.”
In an interview, district parent Kirsten Bassion said that she fears “the will of the students could be usurped by overarching adults,” adding that if a policy does need to be put in place, the decision-making power should rest with the student body and educators.
Committee Chair Sarah Fox addressed those in attendance regarding rumors and misinformation that by instituting a policy, the committee is attempting to ban flags. Fox stated that the committee is simply trying to comply with a Supreme Court ruling in which all flags must be allowed to fly on town or school grounds unless there is a policy in place.
“This is addressing a hole in our policy. This is not to take things down or to say things are limited, it’s to say there’s a policy,” Fox said.
Policy Subcommittee Chair Jenn Schaeffner said that students “rightfully want and need and deserve a voice” in regards to constructing a flag policy, adding that the committee should find a way to incorporate the student body and council in discussions going forward.
Schaeffner has stated that drafting a policy will take time in order to “formulate something that works for all of us —for our administrators, our teachers, our students, for our community, and that everyone has had an opportunity to be heard, but that what we’re doing is fair, and safe, and right for all of our students and members of our community to feel comfortable and safe.”
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If Everyone Gets an A, No One Gets an A
By Tim Donahue
Mr. Donahue teaches high school English at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut.
What is an A, anyway? Does it mean that a 16-year-old recognizes 96 percent of the allusions in “The Bluest Eye”? Or that she could tell you 95 percent of the reasons the Teapot Dome Scandal was so important? Or just that she made it to most classes? Does it come from a physics teacher in the Great Smoky Mountains who bludgeons students with weekly, memory-taxing tests or from a trigonometry teacher in Topeka who works in Taylor Swift references and allows infinite retests?
One answer is that A is now the most popular high school grade in America. Indeed, in 2016, 47 percent of high school students graduated with grades in the A range. This means that nearly half of seniors are averaging within a few numeric points of one another.
A belt has several holes, but usually only one or two of them show any wear in the leather. Can the same really be true for the grades we give our students, with their varied efforts and their constellations of cognitive skills? A grading drop-down menu ought not to be so simple a tool as one person’s belt.
And grades have only gone up since 2016, most notably since the pandemic , most prominently in higher-income school districts . Were this a true reflection of student achievement, it would be reason to celebrate, but the metrics have it differently. From 1998 to 2016, average high school G.P.A.s rose from 3.27 to 3.38, but average SAT scores fell from 1026 to 1002. ACT scores among the class of 2023 were the worst in over three decades. Is it any wonder, then, that 65 percent of Americans feel they are smarter than average ?
I’ll confess that in my nearly 30 years as a high school English teacher, my conceptions of grading have either softened or evolved, depending on how you see it. While I may fret over the ambiguity on Page 5 of a student’s essay, I’m aware of the greater machine. Their whole semester will boil down to one letter, and that letter joins 30 or so others on a transcript they may send to a dozen colleges, some of which have thousands of applicants.
Besides, I like my students. I see them coming into the building at 7:30, carrying three backpacks for a routine that may well go on until 7:30 that night, roughly the time it takes someone to complete a full Ironman triathlon . They will use their free periods to prep for group projects, they’ll scarf down lunch before a French quiz, and hours later, toe the line of scrimmage against those massive defensive backs from the other side of the county. I don’t need to be excellent at as many utterly different things as they do. And my skills are not constantly judged like this, year after year, by a rotation of personalities. If kids come to my writing classes and share their heart and soul on the page, I want to offer them a handhold on this stony path.
Also, it’s just so much easier to give good grades!
But when so many adolescent egos rest upon this collective, timorous deflection, it doesn’t do an awful lot of good. Passing off the average as exceptional with bromides like “wonderful” and “impressive” soothes the soul, but if there’s nothing there to modify these adjectives, teachers do little service to their colleagues who receive these students the next year. It has that looming sense of climate denial, propped up by wishful thinking.
Grade inflation, after all, acts just like real inflation. In the early 1960s, when, according to GradeInflation.com, about 15 percent of grades given at four-year colleges were A’s, a dollar could buy you a movie ticket. Now, this will get you 15 seconds with a college essay coach and a firsthand lesson in Freud’s concept of the narcissism of minor differences : The more a community shares the same thing, the higher the sensitivity becomes about small disparities. So if everyone else applying to the College on the Hill has A’s in math, your A - minus suddenly gives you the wrong distinction.
In the shape-shifting landscape of college admissions, grades have never been more important. Now more than 80 percent of four-year colleges do not require standardized tests. Interviews , perhaps the truest show of the unadorned student, are also falling the way of the Bachman’s warbler. ChatGPT brings possibly serviceable responses to essay questions, if you can live with yourself for using it. And a recommendation letter coming from someone who teaches 150 students is going to look different from someone’s who teaches 50. This all augurs toward the new Pangea: grades. As a high school teacher, I don’t want to hold that much power, nor do I think I should.
It’s so easy to see grades as sheer commodities that we all but overlook their actual purpose — as far as I know — of providing feedback. In English class, this happens not just on days we wield our red pens but every time we encourage students to appreciate the complexity of an idea, every time we can coax an apprehensive hand into the discussion about the bloody field or the Tuscan garden. It happens in meetings outside class when students fumble into ideas for their own stories and on the words, words, words of comments my English-teaching kinfolk are thoughtfully spooling onto our students’ drafts. To forsake all this for one fixed letter is to waste the process for the stamp.
How might grade inflation’s roiling cloud now be pierced? Do we approach the colleges that purport to favor both mental health and kids who take 10 A.P. exams? Or high schools, which watch these grading trend lines with the dread of sea level rise? We keep treating high school and college as two separate entities, but ultimately, they service the same people, and there needs to be more conversation about what this mess of grades is doing to them.
For now, a modest proposal: Consider the essay that comes in with a promising central idea but lacks support from a few critical moments of the text. It makes a smart but abrupt transition and closes with an interesting connection, a trifle undercooked. With another assiduous go-round, it might become something amazing. But please don’t give this draft an A-minus, the grade that puts so much potential to an early, convenient death. Instead, think of the produce of this student’s deletions and insertions, the music as he riffles through those pages he’ll annotate better next time, the reflective potential of a revision. Grading offers a singular place to teach such lessons of resilience. Instead, consider the B-plus.
This means nothing if done alone. But if we’re really going to be teachers, it’s high time to tighten the belt.
Tim Donahue teaches high school English at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut. He writes about education and climate change.
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