Strategies for Parents
By Barrington H. Brennen, September
School has begun and
thousands of students are back in the classroom. At the end of each day or
week, teachers will be assigning homework. Homework is very important
because it helps students to apply principles they have been taught in the
classroom and achieve mastery. It also assists in the development of
critical thinking and original thought. More importantly, it develops
accountability and responsibility.
When students are given homework, in a real way it involves the parents. It
is imperative that parents remember they are their children's primary
educators. The teachers can only build on the foundation parents have laid.
Generally, parents' interests in their children’s education will determine
how well they do in school. This is why I titled this article, “Homework
Strategies for Parents.” I will share parental strategies that can enhance
their children’s interest in doing homework.
Too many parents are not involved in the children’s educational process.
They believe that their responsibility ends after purchasing school
uniforms, books, and paying school fees. Some say they are too busy and have
more important things to do. They do not go to parents' meetings, report
card days, sports day, and other school programs. They do not inquire about
or get involved in their children’s homework assignments. These parents are
often most critical if their children behave badly in school or get bad
How involved should parents be in helping their children with homework
assignments? Here are a few suggestions:
Sit down with
your children during the first week of school and find out what subjects
they are taking. Actually open and explore each textbook. Get an
idea of the kind of assignments they contain and check for the language
difficulty to determine whether your children will need additional
explanation to do them.
Write down the
names of all the subject and home room teachers, their telephone
numbers, and if possible, their email addresses. Make a
get-acquainted call to the home room teacher before the first month of
school is completed. For parents of high school children, make sure to
call the subject teacher for which the student has the greatest
challenge. Tell the teacher that you would like her/him to keep an open
line of communication as you both work together in the learning process
of your child.
permanent quiet place to do homework assignments. Make sure there is
very little distraction. Avoid having music, radio, or the television
playing loudly in the house while demanding that your child concentrates
on her/his homework.
limits. Do not encourage your children to sit studying or doing
homework assignments hours on end without taking a break. It stifles
interest and curtails energy needed to complete the task. Instead, let
your children take five- to ten minute-breaks every thirty- to
forty-five minutes. This will re-energize them and keep their interest
up. During the break, they can go outside and walk around, read a
newspaper, or listen to favorite music. I do not suggest they turn on
the television because they may not turn it off again.
children get organized. Purchase a book or diary in which they are
to write their assignments. As a parent, you should look at the
assignment book each day. Then create a daily schedule that will include
how your children will utilize all waking hours--from morning ‘till bed
time. Post the schedules on the wall in your children’s bedrooms. Always
include some free time in which your children can relax or “chill.” This
time should not be long–thirty to sixty minutes. In addition, after
school responsibilities should include limited rest, household chores,
school uniform preparation, and bedtime. This schedule should be created
for students from kindergarten to Grade 12. When your children come home
each day, do not just ask them: “Do you have any homework today?” Check
for yourself. If the answer is “no” today, tomorrow, and the entire
week, then you should confirm by looking at their assignment book and
other workbooks. In addition, you can call the teacher and ask if any
assignments were given. Many children do not tell the truth because they
are lazy, and they know that their parents are not really interested and
will not check on them. Parents, do not make this mistake.
Set a good
example. Take the opportunity to read a book or newspaper while your
children study. This helps to create a learning atmosphere. Once in a
while show an interest by asking questions, taking a look at what your
children are doing, and offering help if needed or requested.
Stick to the
plan. Find a plan that best suits your children and stick to it.
Some children do best doing their homework as soon as they arrive at
home. Others prefer to wait an hour or so. Some students go to sleep as
soon as they arrive at home and rise an hour later ready to do their
work. Whatever is the pattern, it should be understood that homework is
the highest on the priority list of daily activities. Do not allow your
children to spend three to four hours wasting time and waiting until
late at night to do homework assignments. This is unhealthy and often
encouragement. Often praise and encourage your children for sticking
to their schedule and completing assignments properly and on time.
Encouragement can go a long way in empowering your children to become
believe these few strategies will help you arouse interest
and create a conducive environment for active learning.
Parents remember, your influence and responsibility for your
children’s education should be greater than that of the
classroom teacher. You can make the difference in your
children's lives. Do it now.
Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and a
nationally certified psychologist. You can reach him at
242-327 1980 or