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Helping Your Gradeschooler With Homework
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During grade school, kids start getting homework for the first time to reinforce and extend classroom learning and help them practice important study skills.
By doing homework, kids learn how to:
- read and follow directions independently
- manage and budget time (for long-term assignments like book reports)
- complete work neatly and to the best of their ability
It also helps them develop a sense of responsibility, pride in a job well done, and a work ethic that will benefit them well beyond the classroom.
Parents can give kids lots of homework help, primarily by making homework a priority and helping them develop good study habits.
Setting Up Shop
The kitchen or dining room table is a popular workspace for younger children; they may feel more comfortable being near you, and you can provide encouragement and assistance. Older kids might prefer to retreat to their rooms, but check in periodically and review the homework when it's completed.
Wherever kids do homework, it's important to make sure their workspace is:
- stocked with school supplies (pens, pencils, paper, stapler, calculator, ruler, etc.) and references (dictionary, thesaurus)
- quiet and free from distractions — TV, video games, phone calls, or other family members
If kids need a computer for schoolwork, try to set it up in a common space, not in a bedroom, so you can discourage playing video games, chatting with or emailing friends, or surfing the Internet for fun during study time. Also consider parental controls , available through your Internet service provider (ISP), and software that blocks and filters any inappropriate material. Find out which sites your kids' teachers recommend and bookmark them for easy access.
A Parent's Supporting Role
When it comes to homework, be there to offer support and guidance, answer questions, help interpret assignment instructions, and review the completed work. But resist the urge to provide the right answers or complete assignments.
Focus on helping kids develop the problem-solving skills they'll need to get through this assignment and any others, and offer your encouragement as they do. They'll develop confidence and a love of learning from doing it themselves.
Here are more tips to help make homework easier for kids:
- Establish a routine. Send the message that schoolwork is a top priority with ground rules like setting a regular time and place each day for homework to be done. And make it clear that there's no TV, phone calls, video game-playing, etc., until homework is done and checked.
- Strategize for homework sessions. Teach kids to take stock of how much homework there is and what it involves so they can create a strategy that fits their workloads and temperaments. Some kids might want to tackle the harder assignments first — when mental energy levels are highest — while others prefer to get the easier tasks over with. By helping them approach homework with a strategy when they're young, you'll teach your kids to do that independently later. Allow them to take a break if needed, then guide them back to the homework with fresh focus and energy.
- Instill organization skills. No one is born with great organizational skills — they're learned and practiced over time. Most kids first encounter multiple teachers and classrooms in middle school, when organization becomes a key to succeeding. Teach your child how to use a calendar or personal planner to help get organized.
- Apply school to the "real world." Talk about how what they're learning now applies outside the classroom, such as the importance of meeting deadlines — just like adults in the work world — or how the topics in history class relate to what's happening in today's news.
Especially as kids get older, homework can really start to add up and become harder to manage. These strategies can help:
- Be there. You don't have to hover at homework time, but be around in case you're needed. If your son is frazzled by math problems he's been trying to solve for hours, for instance, suggest he take a break, maybe by shooting some hoops with you. A fresh mind may be all he needed, but when it's time to return to homework, ask how you can help.
- Be in touch with teachers. Keep in good contact with the teachers throughout the school year to stay aware of your child's progress, especially if your child is struggling. Don't miss parent-teacher conferences and maintain an ongoing dialogue. Teachers can tell you what happens in the classroom and how to help your child succeed. You also can ask to be kept in the loop about quizzes, tests, and projects.
- Don't forget the study skills. Study skills often aren't stressed in schools. When you're helping your child study for a test, suggest some effective study strategies, such as using flashcards, or taking notes and underlining while reading.
- Encourage kids to reach out. Most teachers are available for extra help before or after school, and also might be able to recommend other resources. So encourage kids to ask for help, if needed, but remember that in school kids are rewarded for knowing the right answers, and no one likes to stand out by saying that they don't have them. Praise your kids for their hard work and effort.
Don't wait for report cards to find out that there are problems at school. The sooner you intervene, the sooner you can help your child get back on track.
When Kids Struggle With Homework
Consistent complaints about homework or ongoing struggles with assignments could indicate a problem.
In some cases, kids simply need to learn and practice better study habits. Be sure your kids are writing down assignments correctly and encourage them to keep a daily homework notebook, which can help both kids and parents know exactly what assignments are due and when. If a particular assignment is giving your child more trouble than others, send a note to the teacher pointing out the difficulties.
But when a kid consistently has a hard time understanding or completing homework, broader issues (such as learning disabilities, ADHD, or vision or hearing difficulties) might be interfering with academic progress.
By reviewing homework with your child and talking to your child's teacher, you can identify any learning problems and tackle them early on.
Laying the Foundation
The key to truly helping kids with homework is to know when to step in. Make sure your kids know that you're available if there's a snag, but that it's important to work independently. Encourage effort and determination — not just the grades they get.
Be a good example by showing your own love of learning. While your child does homework, do your own — read books, magazines, and newspapers; write letters, lists, and emails; use math skills to calculate expenses or balance the checkbook. By showing that learning remains important — even fun — once school's over, you'll help your kids understand that building knowledge is something to enjoy throughout life.
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20+ Homework Strategies for Parents
December 13, 2022 by pathway2success Leave a Comment
Homework can be a big source of frustration for kids and parents at home. Even more, it can be a challenge that carries over from home to school when the child doesn’t complete the work and is behind in class.
If your child is struggling with homework, read through these strategies and give some a try. As a note, not every single strategy is going to work for every child. To start, pick a few and give them a try. See what works and what doesn’t. Then, move forward together.
If you are an educator looking for strategies for kids, these can help you too. You might even want to pass them along to families to give strategies and support along the way.
Homework Strategies for Home:
Set up a binder organization system. First and foremost, it’s helpful to set your child up with a binder organization system that works for them. This might look different for different learners. One option is having one binder for every class/subject plus a dedicated homework binder. This is ideal for kids who are switching classes and have a good ability to keep track of different binders. In each binder, add a pocket folder and extra paper. In the homework binder, have your child add their homework agenda (read more about that below), a pencil pouch, and a pocket folder just for homework. If this system is too much, consider having one larger binder that contains a homework folder and all classes. You can separate the classes with dividers. While setting up a system most definitely takes time and planning, it helps keep things more orderly in the future.
Use a homework folder. A dedicated homework folder is key to making sure pages get brought home to finish and find their way back to the classroom to be turned in. Using a pocket folder, label one side of the folder “to do” and one side “done.” Explain that assignments that need to be completed, will go on the “to do” side, while pages that are finished will stay in “done.” It’s advisable to purchase a name brand folder to help make sure it lasts a bit longer and stays in the binder. Another tip is to go to the store with your child and let them choose the folder design. There are many different folders with everything from kittens to race cars. Letting the child choose the folder helps them be part of the organization process and might encourage a bit more buy-in. You can use this free homework binder template to get yourself started, or you can make your own!
Teach organization skills on an ongoing basis. Since a big part of completing homework is about organization, it’s important to teach and practice these skills often. Talk about where things should go in the house, take a 5-minute organization break when you need it, and model what organizing materials looks like. If your child struggles significantly with organization, consider reading up more on interventions for organization challenges .
Set up a homework spot. Choose one spot in the house where your child can productively accomplish work on a regular basis. This might be a downstairs office or just the kitchen table. Most importantly, aim to make it consistent and distraction-free.
Have kids use a homework log or agenda. A homework log or agenda is a dedicated place to write homework every day. Often, schools provide homework logs with spots for kids to write work down. If this works, great! Sometimes, though, one isn’t provided or the space might be too small for a child to write in. If that’s the case, you can make your own or use a journal. The key is to set it up so that your child has one spot to write homework down every single day.
Keep the homework area stocked and organized. Keep extra pencils, coloring utensils, and paper ready to go when your child needs it. Having materials organized and stocked will reduce time your child goes looking for it when they need it for an assignment.
Check over the homework log together. Before starting homework, spend a few minutes going over the homework log with your child. Ask them to show you and tell you what assignments they have to do tonight. This is also a great time for positive reinforcement when all homework assignments are clearly outlined, or constructive criticism when they are not. For example, you might say, “I noticed you wrote down ‘study’ under math. What do you think might be more helpful than that for next time?” Then, talk about how you could write down the chapters or topics to study. This homework log check also helps build accountability for your child.
Find alternative ways to check homework. Kids and teens aren’t always perfect about writing their assignments down. Check to see if your child’s teacher has a website where homework is listed. Bookmark the site and have your child use it when they forget to write assignments down. It’s important that it becomes their responsibility to check. If a teacher website isn’t an option, have a homework buddy from class that your child can touch base with. Again, this should be your child’s responsibility when possible. The idea is to teach your child that it is actually easier just to write it down correctly in class the first time!
Be a motivator. It’s no secret that homework isn’t often a favorite activity for kids and teens. Help make it easier by providing encouragement and support in a positive way. You can even start with practicing some positive self-talk and positive affirmations .
Use a timer. A timer can be a valuable tool to help set boundaries and allow breaks. Choose an amount of time that your child should be working, such as 20 minutes. Set the timer and make this a working time. Once the timer goes off, allow a 5 or 10 minute break before heading back to work. A visual timer can be especially helpful in this case because it shows kids and teens just how long they have left until they get their next break. Of course, a simple timer on the oven works, too.
Keep distractions away. We all know that kids and teens love their cell phones. The truth is that these devices are extremely distracting during working times. Make it an expectation that electronics stay away during homework time. Of course, it’s important to mention that this might be incredibly difficult for some kids at first. Work at it to make it a habit for the long-term.
Schedule breaks. It’s healthy to take breaks during long working sessions. Plan to take a break after each course assignment, or after a period of time. Of course, the number of breaks is going to vary greatly depending on your child.
Plan homework times. When it comes to homework, routine is a big part of the puzzle. Plan and schedule daily homework times when possible. Aim for shortly after your child gets home from school if that’s an option. This can allow a short break but still the time to finish the work they need to before dinner and night-time routines. Again, this is going to vary depending on every family situation, since parent work schedules and sports might interfere. If that’s the case, choose any time that works for you. It’s most important to stick with it so that it becomes a routine.
Model focused work. When it’s homework time, model what focused work looks like. While your child is working on assignments, read a book, do crossword puzzles, write in a journal, or complete some work of your own!
Build in choice. Give kids some say when it comes to homework! This will help them feel more empowered and independent. You can let them choose which assignment to start first or how they’d like to start a project. A little bit of choice can go a long way.
Create a homework checklist. Help your child create a daily checklist for homework each day. Encourage them to list out everything they need to accomplish on a piece of paper. Then, prioritize what is most important and start there. Have them check off each assignment on the checklist as they go. This can be done on paper or on a mini whiteboard.
Find a homework buddy. Make sure your child has a friend or classmate they can reach out to when they need homework support. This can be beneficial if they don’t know the assignment or have a question on a specific problem.
Be flexible. If your child wants to do homework a little bit differently than you would recommend, let them try. For example, maybe your child needs to spread out and work on the floor. Perhaps they might really do better while listening to music. These are all recommendations, strategies, and ideas, but remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Be open-minded and find what works for your child.
Recognize when something is taking too long. You know your child best. If he or she spending two hours on a homework assignment, consider taking a look at it together. Provide support and encourage strategies to help them move along. When nothing seems to work, you can also consider adding a note to the back of the page and sending an email to the teacher letting them know the challenges you encountered.
Check homework when finished. Depending on the needs of the child, it may be important to check over and review homework together. Not only it is important to check for completion, but for quality of work. If work isn’t done well, it is worth going back and having your child add or fix what they need to. Eventually, the goal is that they will learn that it’s just easier to do it right the first time!
Plan fun activities after homework. Family game time, watching a favorite show, or heading out for ice cream are all great ways to naturally reward being finished with work.
Develop a home incentive plan. If completing homework is continually a struggle and you suspect motivation is the culprit, consider an incentive or reward plan. Talk with your child about what they would like to earn, such as a movie night with friends or a weekend sleepover. Come up with the terms (such as homework completed every night for a week) and make it happen. The goal with an incentive plan is to develop positive habits and create independence.
Keep in touch with teachers. Remember to stay in contact with your child’s teachers. They are often a source of helpful tips and strategies, but they can’t provide that information if they don’t know your child is struggling. When talking to your child’s teacher about homework challenges, be specific about the difficulties you are seeing an open-minded to trying some strategies. Avoid the blame game. It’s always best when families work with schools on homework issues. If issues continue, do your best to document them and request a face-to-face meeting to discuss further and come up with ideas. Using actual homework samples might also be helpful.
Be a united front with teachers. Even if homework becomes a source of frustration, it’s helpful to remember to act as a united front with your child’s teachers. Certainly, it’s helpful to voice your concerns (and even frustrations) with your child’s teacher privately, but doing it in front of the child can send the wrong message. Again, working together always works best.
Remember to start with just a few strategies, give them a fair shot, and see where they take you. The goal is always that your child can complete the homework independently and feel successful. This may take time, practice, and changing up the strategies along the way, but homework success is possible!
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Homework Tips for Parents
Homework is important, but helping your child with homework isn’t always easy. Here are some ways you can make homework easier for everyone!
Study the same things in different ways and places
Help your child learn about new words or content in a variety of ways. Talk about new vocabulary words several times over the course of the week, in different settings. This will help enrich your child’s understanding of the word.
Mix up the study time
If your child prefers to do a little math, a little reading, a little word study and then back to math, that’s okay! Mixing up the practice time may leave a greater impression on your learner.
Space out the learning
If your child has a big test coming up next week, help her study a little bit each day rather than cramming it in the night before. An hour or so every other day, spacing out the learning, is a better way to really learn the material.
Help your child get organized
Help your child pick out a special homework notebook or folder, and make sure your child has homework supplies, such as:
- writing paper
- a dictionary
Show your child that you think homework is important
Ask your child about her homework each day, and check to see that it is completed. Tell your child that you are proud of the work she is doing.
Help your child without doing the homework
It’s important to answer questions if you can — but remember that homework is supposed to help children learn and that doing your child’s homework does not help in the long run.
Talk with your child’s teacher
Find out what the teacher’s homework rules are. If your child has a problem completing or understanding homework, call or e-mail the teacher to talk about the issue.
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How Parents Can Help With Homework (Without Taking Over)
Sometimes taking the stress out of homework means taking a step back. learn how to curb your hands-on habits and help your kids do their best..
After a long day at school, the last thing my kids want to do is tackle their assignments. And after a long day at work, arguing with them about homework is the last thing my husband and I want to do. But we’ve always thought that the more involved we were, the better off they’d be.
It turns out that that isn’t necessarily true: After looking at 30 years’ worth of studies, researchers concluded that in most cases, such parental interest actually doesn’t help raise test scores or grades — and sometimes backfires. The reason: When parents are overly immersed in homework, they deny kids the chance to become more independent and confident. Worse, it can breed anxiety along the way.
Of course, backing off is easier said than done. So we asked education pros to share their secrets for helping kids study without hovering. Use these techniques to bring peace to your evenings — starting tonight!
Old way: Sit beside your child so you can answer questions and fix his mistakes. New way: Stay available by doing chores nearby.
When you hover, you essentially send the message to your kid that you don’t think he can do the work. To empower him instead, stay busy and wait until he asks for your help, says Miriam Liss, Ph.D., author of Balancing the Big Stuff: Finding Happiness in Work, Family, and Life.
For example, say your child is stumped by a math problem. You could ask questions (“So how many groups of two equal eight?”). If he says, “Got it,” leave him alone. If he continues to struggle, make suggestions (“Hey, do you want to use baby carrots as manipulatives?”). He’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment if he’s worked for the answer mostly on his own.
Also avoid stepping in to correct every mistake without your child’s input. “Homework is a chance for a child to practice what he’s learned in class,” explains Jacqueline Cross, a fourth-grade teacher in Hingham, MA. “If he’s really challenged by long division, I’d like to know that so I can help.”
If your child asks you to look over his worksheet, point out the errors in a subtle way. Say, “Can you go back and see where you went wrong here?” or even do a quick reminder of the point of the exercise (“Remember, you’re supposed to be finding coins that add up to four dollars. Want to count these numbers out loud and I’ll listen?”).
Old way: Nag until your child starts working. New way: Set up a no-nonsense routine.
“Make it clear that everyone has obligations — and your child’s include things like going to school, working with her teacher, and doing the best she can on her homework,” says Susan Kuczmarski, Ed.D, author of The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent’s Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go.
Doing her best includes buckling down to finish her assignments without constant check-ins from you. Together, figure out a specific time and place for her to work. It’s okay if she needs a little while to recharge after school before starting, but be sure she knows that four o’clock (or whatever time is best for your fam) is non-negotiable.
Once you’ve established a firm homework routine, make it a habit that happens every day. “Kids can whine, but they just won’t get to watch their TV show or whatever else they’d like to do until the homework is done. Period,” says Dr. Liss. (There goes your need to nag!)
And if your kid doesn’t do an assignment because you failed to remind her? As tough as it is, let her deal with the consequences. You won’t always be around to stay on top of her, and learning responsibility is a cornerstone of education.
Old way: Lecture your kid for waiting until the night before to study for the spelling test. New way: Teach time-management skills.
Scolding just makes your child feel bad (and he’ll tune you out, anyway). But because kids appreciate structure, teach yours how to break tasks up into more manageable chunks.
A printed calendar is a great tool for learning how to map out deadlines and a better visual reminder for grade-schoolers than the digital kind. Hang it in a prominent place. Then help your kid set daily goals, like “study four words on Monday and five on Tuesday …,” or break that science project into weekly goals, like “gather resources by the 5th, plant the seeds on the 11th.”
By giving your child control over deadlines, you remove yourself from the battle: If it’s on the calendar, he’s responsible for it. Skip handing out negative consequences for not getting things done. Instead, says Dr. Liss, you can offer him rewards for hitting each of the milestones.
Old way: Get sucked into whine fests. New way: Walk away.
If your child gripes about the work itself (“It’s too hard!” or “I don’t get it!”), figure out what’s behind her frustration. If it’s a lack of motivation, let her know that the sooner she applies herself, the sooner it’ll get done and the faster she can move on to something more fun. Then leave the room. After all, without an audience, she can’t complain, and you avoid getting trapped in a negative cycle.
But if the material is too difficult, that’s another story. In that case, try your hand at doing some of the problems with her (as long as you can stay calm). You may be able to make that lightbulb turn on in her head.
If not, reach out to the teacher to ask for assistance (or, if your child is over 8, suggest she speak with the teacher herself). Educators don’t want their students struggling to the point of tears, so your child’s teacher will probably be happy to clue you in to extra resources that can help your kid understand the lesson.
Old way: Work on your kid’s project until the end product is perfect. New way: Let your child take the lead.
“We assign projects so kids get a chance to apply new skills they’ve learned,” Cross explains. So if you’re getting super hands-on to wow the teacher, do your best to resist the urge. “We see your child every day, so we’re pretty familiar with the kind of work she does!” Cross adds.
That doesn’t mean you can’t pitch in, but let your kid be the creative force. For example, if you notice that the assignment includes a timeline and your grade-schooler skipped that step, point it out, then let her figure out which dates to include and how best to showcase them. After all, brainstorming lets your child hone her problem-solving skills and increases her confidence; hand-feeding her a solution won’t teach her anything.
When your kiddo proudly shows you the finished product, tell her something specific, like “Your report really makes me want to read that book now!” or “Wow, look at all the details you included in that flower diagram!” By saying something descriptive instead of generic (“That poster you made looks really awesome!”), you’re acknowledging the content itself and the effort your child put into it rather than just how it looks, notes Dr. Kuczmarski.
Achieving balance is key — and that’s true for all homework conundrums. Says Dr. Liss: “Your goal is to find that sweet spot of being there if your kids need you, but not being totally on top of them all the time.”
Plus: 10 Homework Help Tips The Do's and Don'ts of Homework Help
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Original research article, antecedents and outcomes of parental homework involvement: how do family-school partnerships affect parental homework involvement and student outcomes.
- Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, FernUniversität in Hagen, Hagen, Germany
Recent studies have demonstrated that parental homework involvement may not always foster students’ desired school outcomes. Such studies have also concluded that the quality of parental homework involvement matters, rather than the quantity. Most importantly, previous studies have shown that strong family-school partnerships (FSPs) may help to improve parental involvement. However, there is little research on how FSP is related to homework involvement. The aim of the present study is to examine the link between an effective family-school communication (EFSC) – as one aspect of FSP – and the quality of parental homework involvement in the German context. For this purpose, we developed a new measure of EFSC. Taking a self-determination theory perspective on parental need support, the quality of parental homework involvement was differentiated into two dimensions of parental supportive behavior: autonomy support and competence support. We analyzed the data of 309 parents (82% mothers) of school students (52% girls) who participated in an online survey. The structural equation model revealed a positive relation between EFSC and the quality of parental homework involvement, which in turn was positively associated with school performance and well-being. Moreover, we found that the quality of parental homework involvement mediated the relations of EFSC with achievement and well-being. The results of our study highlight the role of EFSC as a key performance factor that helps to improve the quality of parental homework involvement, thereby promoting student achievement and well-being.
Across the globe, students are set homework assignments on a regular basis since homework is generally believed to improve achievement ( Paschal et al., 1984 ; Cooper, 1989 ). In their meta-analysis of school effectiveness studies, Scheerens and Bosker (1997) found a mean effect size across 13 studies of Zr = 0.06 (Fisher’s Z ) for homework, indicating that this variable might indeed enhance school effectiveness. However, recent studies have provided evidence that homework assignments are not per se performance-enhancing. For instance, the effectiveness of homework seems to depend on the quality of the tasks assigned. Homework assignments that are perceived to be well selected and cognitively challenging are positively associated with students’ achievement ( Dettmers et al., 2010 ).
A further potential predictor of the effectiveness of homework assignments is parental homework involvement. Parental involvement in homework completion is commonly expected by schools, teachers, and parents ( Patall et al., 2008 ), all of whom believe that parental homework involvement is vital for students’ school performance ( Epstein, 1986 ; Trautwein et al., 2009 ). Thus, numerous guidelines for parents exist, aiming to improve parents’ abilities to successfully support homework completion (e.g., U.S. Department of Education, 2005 ). In the US, more than 80% of parents believe that homework is important for learning. Even though 51% of parents reported that students should do their homework on their own, on average, 73% of parents reported helping their child with homework completion. However, at the same time, 29% of parents perceived a negative impact of homework on family life ( Markow et al., 2007 ). Given this high percentage of parents who become involved in their children’s homework completion and a substantial number of parents who complained about family stress due to homework, the question arises concerning whether and under which conditions parental homework involvement is beneficial. Parental homework involvement is one facet of parental involvement in schooling, which is believed to be one of the key promoters of students’ school-related outcomes such as achievement, motivation, and well-being (e.g., Fan and Chen, 2001 ; Epstein, 2005 ; Hill and Tyson, 2009 ; Ma et al., 2016 ). The importance attached to parental behavior in their children’s education becomes apparent in the development of significant educational policies [e.g., U.S. Department of Education, 2002 ] and projects fostering educational partnerships [e.g., teachers involve parents in schoolwork (TIPS, Van Voorhis, 2003 ), and teachers involving parents (TIP, Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2002 )], which stresses the role that parents play in their children’s education. Indeed, meta-analyses have provided evidence that regardless of their socioeconomic background and race, students’ school achievement can be improved if their parents become involved in their education (e.g., Fan and Chen, 2001 ; Hill and Tyson, 2009 ; Ma et al., 2016 ). However, parental involvement represents a multifaceted behavior that can take place in school (school-based involvement: e.g., community services at school) or at home (home-based involvement; Grolnick and Slowiaczek, 1994 , Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 1997 ). Previous studies analyzing the effectiveness of parental homework involvement have demonstrated mixed results about the link between this type of involvement and students’ school performance, with some studies having found a positive link (e.g., Van Voorhis, 2003 ; Xu, 2004 ; Silinskas and Kikas, 2011 ) while others have found a negative link (e.g., Xu et al., 2010 ; Dumont et al., 2012 ). These studies have suggested that one should consider how homework involvement is assessed. Most importantly, it is the quality (and not the amount) of homework involvement that is crucial for student outcomes (e.g., Knollmann and Wild, 2007a , b ; Dumont et al., 2014 ; Gonida and Cortina, 2014 ; Moroni et al., 2015 ).
The present study was built upon these previous studies, aiming to shed light on factors that might improve the quality of parental homework involvement and thereby student outcomes (achievement and students’ well-being). In recent years, the concept of FSP has become well known, as it is believed to foster parental abilities to help their children with learning. Studies have proven that a positive contact between schools and parents is related with higher parental school involvement ( Ames et al., 1993 ; Kohl et al., 2000 ; Patrikakou and Weissberg, 2000 ). The aim of the present study was threefold. Our first research question concerned the relationship between the quality of parental homework involvement and four student outcomes: achievement in mathematics and reading as well as well-being at home and school. Second, we analyzed the association between effective family-school communication (EFSC) on the one hand and parental homework involvement and the four student outcomes on the other hand. Third, we investigated the interplay between our variables, namely whether parental homework involvement mediates the association between EFSC and the four student outcomes.
Predictors and Outcomes of Parental Homework Involvement
Past research has suggested that parental homework involvement is a multidimensional construct including two distinct types of help: quantitative help (e.g., doing homework with the child, providing answers) and qualitative help (e.g., avoiding distractions, providing rules for homework completion, providing support for finding answers) (e.g., Gonida and Cortina, 2014 ). Although the general term of parental involvement is accepted to be one of the key promoters of learning, parental homework involvement is not always positively related with desired school outcomes such as achievement. For example, Xu et al. (2010) found the frequency of parental homework help to be negatively related with student reading achievement and raised the question of how parents should help with homework. The authors concluded that parents should provide a suitable learning environment for homework completion to foster self-regulated learning and children’s autonomy. Moroni et al. (2015) operationalized parental involvement as a multidimensional construct in terms of quantity and quality and examined how the quantity and different qualities of homework involvement were associated with student achievement. Controlling for prior achievement and parental socioeconomic background, they found the frequency of help to be negatively associated with the development of student achievement. However, in terms of homework quality, the authors found opposing effects depending on how homework quality was operationalized. While supportive homework help had positive effects on students’ achievement, intrusive homework help was negatively related with later achievement. Dumont et al. (2014) analyzed longitudinal data of 2,830 student-parent dyads (grades 5 and 7) who reported about the quality of parental homework involvement, their socioeconomic background, and desired student outcomes (e.g., reading achievement, reading effort). Adopting the perspective of self-determination theory (SDT, Deci and Ryan, 1987 , 2000 ), parental homework involvement was conceptualized by three dimensions: parental control, parental responsiveness, and parental provision of structure. The analyses revealed a reciprocal relationship between parental homework involvement and student outcomes. Low achievement in grade 5 predicted higher later parental homework control in grade 7, while high parental control in grade 5 was related with lower achievement in grade 7. A positive reciprocal relationship was found for parental involvement in terms of structure and responsiveness on the one hand and desired student outcomes – such as high achievement – on the other hand. Types of parental involvement did not depend on parental socioeconomic background.
Supportive parental homework involvement – such as the parental provision of autonomy support or structure – is not only positively associated with students’ academic performance, but it is also believed to be beneficial for students’ well-being (e.g., Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2002 ; Pekrun et al., 2002 ). It is assumed that supportive parental behavior fulfills students’ basic needs proposed by SDT, namely the need for autonomy, relatedness, and competence ( Grolnick, 2009 ). Basic needs satisfaction may result in an internalization of uninteresting and boring activities such as doing homework into personally important activities, thereby fostering performance and well-being ( Deci and Ryan, 2000 ). To date, few studies have provided evidence of this linkage. Knollmann and Wild (2007b) conducted a survey with 181 German students concerning their parents’ provision of autonomy support, emotional support, and support for competence during parental instruction at home. The authors found autonomy and emotional support to be positively associated with joy. By contrast, lower levels of autonomy and emotional support predicted higher rates of students’ anger. Moreover, according to Kenney-Benson and Pomerantz (2005) , greater autonomy-supportive homework help of mothers was found to be associated with less depressive symptoms compared to controlling mothers.
To sum up, the quality of parental homework help seems to be related with differences in students’ well-being and academic achievement. In line with the assumptions of SDT, numerous studies suggest that autonomy- and competence-supportive parental homework involvement may increase students’ experiences of autonomous and competent learning experiences, which in turn fosters desired (learning) outcomes. Hence, the question arises about factors that may influence the quality of parental homework involvement. Gonida and Cortina (2014) investigated predictors and consequences of parental homework involvement. The authors asked Greek parents to rate different types of parental homework involvement (autonomy-supportive homework involvement, controlling homework involvement, and interference). Moreover, parents and their children provided information on achievement goals, academic efficacy, and school grades. Structural equation models revealed that autonomy-supportive homework involvement was predicted by parent mastery goals while parent performance goals predicted controlling homework involvement. Moreover, the authors provided evidence that parental beliefs for children’s self-efficacy were negatively associated with parent control and interference, but positively related with parent encouragement for cognitive engagement as supplementary to homework. Furthermore, this study demonstrated that low parent beliefs in their children’s abilities to complete homework successfully may result in an inappropriate way of homework involvement in terms of control and interference.
However, to our knowledge, little is known about further factors that might promote the quality of parental homework involvement. Given the important role of parents in their children’s education, the present study addressed this research deficit and aims to shed light on potential predictors of parental homework involvement. Students and their parents spend a lot of time with homework, although parents report barriers to their homework involvement in the sense that – for instance – they sometimes feel unable to provide appropriate help and they tend to require recommendations from teachers about how to help with homework ( Kay et al., 1994 ). In the present study, we assume EFSC to be a potential predictor of the quality of parental homework involvement. A welcoming school climate and recommendations for homework involvement might act as an invitation to involve as they indicate that parental involvement is desired and important ( Becker and Epstein, 1982 ; Epstein, 1986 ; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2001 ). In the next section, we present a theoretical model of parental involvement in schooling and corresponding empirical studies.
Defining Parental Involvement in Schooling
Parental involvement in schooling is seen as a key strategy to improve students’ success in school. Indeed, a strong body of evidence suggests that parental involvement in schooling is positively associated with various desired school-related outcomes such as school performance and positive affect (e.g., Fan and Chen, 2001 ; Hill and Tyson, 2009 ; Ma et al., 2016 ). According to Epstein (1995) , supportive and event-independent communication between parents, school principals, and teachers may result in a deepened mutual understanding about school as well as improved support of students by their parents and teachers. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1995 , 1997 , 2005) developed a theoretical model of parental involvement process that describes the antecedents and consequences of parental involvement in schooling. The model proposes five sequential levels to explain factors that might influence parents’ choice to become involved, their resulting forms of involvement and their consequences. The first level identifies three reasons for parents to become involved in their children’s schooling: parents’ perceived role construction (e.g., whether they feel obliged to help), their perceived invitations to involvement from the school, the teacher, and their child, as well as their sense of efficacy for helping their children. The second level suggests two forms of parental involvement, namely home- and school-based involvement, both of which include encouragement, modeling, reinforcement, and instruction. At the third level , children’s perceptions of the four types of parental involvement (encouragement, modeling, reinforcement, and instruction) are described. The fourth level describes mediating variables, namely child attributes and use of developmentally appropriate parental involvement. Finally, the fifth level focuses on school achievement (for a more detailed description, see Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005 ; Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 2005 ). The focus of the present study was on the first level of the model, which deals with the question of why parents become involved in their children’s schooling. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s model identifies three sources of invitations for parents to become involved in schooling: invitations from the school, the child, and the child’s teachers. Invitations from the school might include a welcoming school climate and the perception that parental involvement is crucial and desired in supporting children’s learning and achievement. Teachers can foster parental involvement through direct requests for involvement in children’s education; for instance, by encouraging parents to talk about school activities with their child. Finally, children’s attributes (e.g., prior achievement in school) might act as an invitation to become involved. Numerous previous studies have provided evidence regarding the relationship between level 1 variables (reasons for becoming involved) and the amount of involvement in school and at home (e.g., Green et al., 2007 ). For example, Green and colleagues used the data of 853 parents of elementary and middle school students to examine associations between antecedent factors (level 1) and different forms of parental involvement (level 2) proposed in the theoretical model by Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler. Regression analyses revealed that parental self-efficacy, child invitations, and parents’ time and energy were positively associated with the amount of home- and school-based involvement. Moreover, teacher invitations predicted the quantity of parents’ school-based involvement. Yotyodying and Wild (2014) examined whether parental perceptions of invitations for involvement from the school and teachers in a German and Thai sample as one among other predictors variables would predict two distinct forms of home-based parental involvement: authoritative (greater autonomy support and responsiveness) and authoritarian (greater control and structure). In the German sample, the significant results showed that parental perceptions of invitations from the school and teachers were negatively associated with both authoritative and authoritarian ways of involvement. This means that parents who prefer either authoritative or authoritarian ways of involvement tend to neglect becoming involved if they feel less invited by the school and teachers.
However, it should be critically noted that Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s model as well as most related empirical studies have focused particularly on the quantity (how often parents become involved) of parental involvement, while the quality (the ways in which parents become involved) of parental involvement has been neglected in many studies.
The present study aims to expand the existing body of knowledge by taking the quality (instead of the quantity) of parental involvement into account. In order to gain deeper insights into the mechanisms of parental involvement, we concentrated on one subdimension of parental involvement in schooling: parental homework involvement. Adopting a self-determination perspective on parental need support, the quality of parental homework involvement was differentiated into two dimensions of parental supportive behavior: autonomy support and competence support. The following research questions arise from the above explanations: is high-quality parental homework involvement positively associated with students’ achievement and well-being? Moreover, how can high-quality parental involvement be fostered?
Family-School Partnerships in Germany
Given the importance of improving parental involvement, scholars have attempted to identify variables that increase beneficial parental involvement. In recent years, the concept of family-school partnerships (FSPs) has become well known as an instrument that might foster parental choice to become involved in their children’s education and parental abilities to help their children with learning. Indeed, studies have proven that successful FSPs are positively associated with students’ performance (see Henderson and Mapp, 2002 ; Sheldon, 2003 ). A positive contact between teachers and parents increases the probability that parents become involved in their children’s education ( Ames et al., 1993 ; Kohl et al., 2000 ; Hoover-Dempsey and Walker, 2002 ). Moreover, information from teachers about classroom learning and instruction shape parental strategies to become involved ( Ames et al., 1993 ). In order to strengthen successful FSP, in 1997, the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) published the National Standards for Family-School Partnership for the US context. These standards build upon Epstein’s typology of parental involvement (see Epstein, 2001 ) and provide a practical guideline to implement FSP. The PTA proposed six standards: (1) welcoming all families into the school community, (2) communicating effectively, (3) supporting student success, (4) speaking up for every child, (5) sharing power, and (6) collaborating with community (for more information, see Parent-Teacher Association, 2009 ). Compared to the US, to our knowledge, in Germany, much less is known about the concept and the benefits of well-functioning FSP ( Wild and Yotyodying, 2012 ). To date, contacts between schools and parents are rare and not very effective and mostly take place at parent evening events ( Wild and Hofer, 2002 ; Sacher, 2008 ). Moreover, conversations between teachers and parents mainly concern learning problems and students’ grades ( Wild and Lorenz, 2010 ; Wild and Yodyodying, 2012 ). For this reason, the Vodafone Foundation in collaboration with a scientific expert committee (see Sacher et al., 2013 ) recently proposed a compass for family-school partnerships for the German context comprising four different standards. The development of the four indicators is based on the six PTA standards described above, although the standards were adapted to the German context and the sixth standard “collaborating with community” was excluded for Germany. Standard A “Welcoming and Meeting Culture” describes a welcoming and friendly school climate that can be characterized by mutual respect and the inclusion of all stakeholders. Standard B “Various and Respectful Communication” is characterized by a regular and routine information exchange between the school, teachers, and parents, the use of various ways of information, and a regular information exchange between all stakeholders. Standard C “Educational Cooperation” focuses on parental participation in school life, the encouragement of parents to support their children with learning, the information about external school-related offers, and it emphasizes the role of parents as interceders of their child. Finally, Standard D “Parent Participation” describes the provision of information about parents’ participatory rights, the possibility for parents to participate in school decisions, and the inclusion of social, political, and external networks in school life. To our knowledge, little is known about whether the proposed standards would be met in German schools and whether they would help to ensure parental involvement, especially parental help with homework. For this reason, we developed and validated a parental questionnaire to assess parental perceptions on different aspects of FSP based on the proposals of Vodafone’s scientific committee.
The aim of the present study was to identify factors that might promote the quality of parental homework involvement. In consideration of Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s model, which identifies three reasons for parents to become involved (their role construction, their perceived invitations, and their sense of competence to help) and previous studies (e.g., Becker and Epstein, 1982 ; Epstein, 1986 ; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2001 ), we proposed that EFSC would foster the quality of parental homework involvement. In order to operationally characterize EFSC, we relied on three indicators of Standard B “Various and Respectful Communication” and developed three scales (15 items) assessing EFSC. B1 “Information Exchange” describes a regular and routine information exchange between the school, teachers, and parents. Standard B2 “Various Forms of Communication” focuses on the use of the variety of ways of communication between the school and parents (e.g., email, homepage, etc.). B3 “School Transitions” refers to a regular knowledge transfer and information exchange between schools, teachers, and parents during school transitions.
The Present Study
The present study addresses three research deficits. First , parental school involvement is a multidimensional construct comprising both parental involvement at school and parental involvement at home. Research findings on parental school-based involvement are not transferable to home-based involvement, given that the context of the two forms of involvement differs. The present study concentrates on home-based involvement, more precisely on homework involvement as one facet of it. Research on parental homework involvement has provided evidence for the need to distinguish between the quality and quantity of parental involvement, whereby it is the quality (rather than the quantity) of involvement that matters for desired student outcomes (e.g., Dumont et al., 2014 ; Moroni et al., 2015 ). Adopting a self-determination perspective on parental need support, the quality of parental homework involvement was differentiated into two dimensions of parental supportive behavior: autonomy support and competence support. Our first research question concerned the relationship between parental homework involvement and four different student outcomes: well-being at school, well-being at home, mathematics achievement, and language achievement. Second , the concept of FSP is well known and has been much studied in the US context. There is clear consensus that parental involvement in schooling is beneficial and that a successful implementation of FSP fosters parental involvement, thereby promoting student achievement ( Ames et al., 1993 ; Kohl et al., 2000 ; Fan and Chen, 2001 ; Henderson and Mapp, 2002 ; Hoover-Dempsey and Walker, 2002 ; Sheldon, 2003 ; Epstein, 2005 ; Hill and Tyson, 2009 ; Ma et al., 2016 ). However, theoretical models and much FSP research have concentrated on the effects of FSP on the quantity (the amount) of involvement, while the relationship between FSP and the quality of parental school involvement and student outcomes remains unclear. Moreover, to our knowledge, in Germany, much less is known about effects of the implementation of successful FSP. The four standards of FSP proposed by the Vodafone Foundation and a scientific expert committee ( Sacher et al., 2013 ) are the first theoretical compass for FSP in the German context. To date, the concept has not been empirically analyzed in Germany and it is unclear whether a successful implementation of FSP is related to parental school- and home-based involvement. Our second research question thus concerned the relationship between EFSC (as one facet of FSP) and parental homework involvement and the different student outcomes. Finally, our third research question focuses on the mediating role of parental homework involvement for the relationship between EFSC and the four student outcomes. In order to investigate these relationships, we assumed that socioeconomic status and student gender may act as barriers to parental homework involvement (e.g., Hornby and Lafaele, 2011 ). Thus, there is a need to control for both variables.
Materials and Methods
Data source and sample.
Between winter 2015 and spring 2018, we conducted an online survey with parents of primary and secondary school students. The sample included 309 parents (82% mothers; M age = 42 years) of school students. Of the participants’ children ( M age = 12 years, SD = 3.58), 55% were girls and 44% attended elementary schools. Parents were asked to rate the amount of EFSC and their homework support. Moreover, parents rated children’s well-being and school achievement. The percentage of missing data was low for the variables analyzed here (on average 0.91%).
Effective family-school communication.
EFSC was assessed with three indicators of Standard B “Various and Respectful Communication” and comprises: (1) “Regular and event-independent information exchange” [five items, e.g., “If I am (or my child is) concerned about something, I can discuss this with the teachers, the school principal, or other parents.”], (2) “various forms of communication” [six items, e.g., “The school communicates with parents in different ways (e.g., email, telephone, and website).”], and (3) “school transitions” [five items, e.g., “The school management and teachers actively inform parents and children about the possibilities when making their school decisions.”]. All items were rated on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = “strongly disagree” to 4 = “strongly agree.” Cronbach’s alpha for EFSC was 0.91. The psychometric properties of the subscales are shown in Table 1 .
Table 1 . Means, standard deviations, and internal consistencies for all study variables.
Parental Homework Involvement
Adopting a self-determination perspective on parental need support, the quality of parental homework involvement was differentiated into two dimensions of parental supportive behavior ( Katz et al., 2011 ): (1) autonomy-supportive homework involvement was assessed with five items (e.g., “While working on homework, I am willing to hear my child provide answers that are different from mine.”); and (2) competence-supportive homework involvement comprised three items (e.g., “I am glad if my child provides an answer in homework that is different from what is expected but is interesting.”). Items were rated on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = “strongly disagree” to 4 = “strongly agree.” Cronbach’s alpha for parental homework support was 0.83.
In the present study, we differentiated between student well-being at home and in school. Using two different 10-point ladders ( Cantril, 1965 ) ranging from 1 (they are doing really poorly in school/at home ) to 10 ( they are doing really well in school/at home ), parents were asked to rate how their children feel about their lives in school (well-being at school) and at home (well-being at home).
School achievement was assessed with two indicators. Parents were asked to rate their children’s mathematics achievement in mathematics with three items on a 4-point Likert scale: (a) my child is (1) not good ...(4) very good in arithmetic, (b) my child makes (1) many mistakes ...(4) very few mistakes in arithmetic, (c) arithmetic is (1) difficult ...(4) easy for my child . Cronbach’s alpha of this scale was 0.95. Language achievement comprised six items about the reading and writing abilities of their children. Parents were asked to judge the items on a 4-point Likert scale, (e.g., a) my child makes (1) so many mistakes ...(4) very few mistakes when reading, (b) writing is (1) difficult ...(4) easy for my child . Cronbach’s alpha of this scale was 0.92.
Parental socioeconomic status (SES) was assessed using the CASMIN classification (Comparative Analysis of Social Mobility in Industrial Nations; König et al., 1988 ), a comparative educational scale. Parents provided information on their school education (e.g., A-level) and their professional education (e.g., university degree). In order to build a CASMIN index, both variables of each parent were combined and then distinguished into three different educational levels (elementary, intermediate, and higher level). According to this classification, 2% of the parents reported having a SES at the elementary level, 15% at the intermediate level, and 83% at the higher level. We created a dummy variable for the SES, coded as 1 if participants reported a CASMIN at the higher level, and 0 if participants reported a lower CASMIN.
In order to test our hypotheses empirically, structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses were performed. SEM allows testing the relationships postulated in the present study. All analyses were performed using MPlus 7.4 ( Muthén and Muthén, 2012–2014 ). EFSC was operationalized as a latent construct, measured by three manifest indicators (regular and event-independent information exchange, various forms of communication, and school transitions). Parental homework involvement was measured by two indicators: autonomy- and competence-supportive homework involvement. In order to control for parental SES and student gender, we estimated the links between both variables and the mediator (parental homework involvement), as well as the outcomes (achievement and well-being). Standardized parameter estimates of models with good fit were reported. Model fit was evaluated by considering the χ 2 test, the comparative fit index (CFI), the Tucker Lewis Index (TLI), the standardized root mean square residual SRMR, and the root mean square error of approximation RMSEA. According to Schreiber et al. (2006) , a nonsignificant χ 2 test, and a value of 0.95 or higher for the GFI and CFI indicates an acceptable model fit. The average percentage of missing data ranged from 0 to 3.2%. Since the proportion of missing values was low and could be assumed to be missing at random (MAR), it was dealt with the full information maximum likelihood estimation (FIML) implemented in MPlus. In FIML, all information available is considered to estimate the parameters. FIML produces unbiased parameter estimates and standard errors and is superior to traditional deletion methods (e. g., listwise and pairwise deletion) ( Schafer and Graham, 2002 ).
Descriptive Statistics and Zero-Order Correlations
Table 1 presents means, standard deviations, and Cronbach’s alpha for the study variables. Parents’ average ratings of EFSC were moderately above the scale midpoint, indicating a rather frequent contact between schools and parents and a “well-functioning information flow.” Parents report a regular and routine information exchange between the school, teachers, and parents. Moreover, as perceived by parents, most schools used various forms to communicate with parents, e.g., email, homepage, etc. Finally, parents perceived a regular knowledge transfer and information exchange between schools, teachers, and parents during school transitions. Parental ratings of homework support were significantly above the scale midpoint. Hence, from a self-determination perspective on parental need support, parents reported a rather high quality of parental homework involvement. They reported being autonomy- and competence-supportive during homework completion. Achievement was rated on a 4-point Likert scale. As shown in Table 1 , on average, parents rated their children’s achievement in mathematics and reading high. While well-being was also rated high. On a 10-point ladder with high values indicating high well-being, parents perceived their children to feel rather well in school and very well at home.
In order to gain insights into the association between the research variables, Table 2 presents the Pearson’s correlation coefficients between all analyzed variables. The significant correlations ranged from r = 0.14 ( p < 0.05) to r = 0.53 ( p < 0.01). As expected, EFSC was positively associated with supportive parental homework involvement ( r = 0.39, p < 0.01), indicating that a well-functioning contact and information flow between schools, teachers, and parents is related with autonomy- and competence-supportive parental homework behavior. Moreover, high values in EFSC were related with well-being at school ( r = 0.35, p < 0.01) and home ( r = 0.14, p < 0.05). Finally, EFSC was positively associated with achievement in mathematics ( r = 0.20, p < 0.01) and language ( r = 0.20, p < 0.01). The same holds for autonomy- and competence-supportive parental homework behavior. The variable was positively related with well-being at school ( r = 0.16, p < 0.01) and home ( r = 0.42, p < 0.01) and with school achievement (mathematics: r = 0.24, p < 0.01; language: r = 0.47, p < 0.01). In sum, the intercorrelations revealed that our research variables are related to each other in the expected way. In order to draw further conclusions about their relationship and answer our research questions, we estimated regression analyses and a structural equation model to predict parental homework involvement, school achievement, and well-being, as well as to test the mediating role of parental homework involvement for the potential association between EFSC and our outcome variables.
Table 2 . Intercorrelations among study variables.
The Relationship Between Parental Homework Involvement and Student Outcomes
In the first step, we performed a regression analyses to predict students’ well-being at school and home and their achievement in mathematics and language. The results are shown in Table 3 , model 1. Model fit was rated based on the χ 2 test, the CFI, the TLI, the SRMR, and the RMSEA. The model revealed good model fit to the data, χ 2 (522, N = 309) = 5.03, CFI = 1.00, TLI = 1.00; SRMR = 0.01, RMSEA = 0.01. As can be seen in Table 3 , controlling for socioeconomic status and gender (female), parental homework involvement predicted well-being at school ( β = 0.15, p < 0.05), well-being at home ( β = 0.42, p < 0.01), mathematics achievement ( β = 0.24, p < 0.01), and language achievement ( β = 0.46, p < 0.01). Hence, according to their parents, students whose parents are autonomy- and competence-supportive during homework completion feel more well at school and home and achieve better results in mathematics and language compared to other students. The variance explained was between 3% (for well-being at school) and 23% (for language achievement).
Table 3 . Associations among effective family-school communication, parental homework involvement, well-being at school, well-being at home, mathematics achievement, and language achievement after controlling for child gender and parental SES.
The Relationship Between Effective Family-School Communication and Parental Homework Behavior and Student Outcomes
The next section presents the findings of regression analyses to empirically test the assumed relationships between EFSC and the other variables of this study. Table 3 , model 2, shows the results for the prediction of parental homework involvement, well-being at school and home, as well as achievement in mathematics and language. The model revealed good model fit to the data, χ 2 (22, N = 309) = 32.21, CFI = 0.99, TLI = 0.97; SRMR = 0.02, RMSEA = 0.04. As can be seen in Table 3 , after controlling for socioeconomic status (CASMIN) and gender (female), regression analysis indicated that EFSC predicts parental homework support ( β = 0.40, p < 0.01). Thus, parents whose children visit schools with a well-functioning EFSC reported being more autonomy- and competence-supportive during homework completion. The variance explained was 16% for this model.
The next two columns show the results for the prediction of students’ well-being. After controlling for socioeconomic status and gender, the results revealed a positive relationship between parental homework support and well-being at school ( β = 0.34, p < 0.01), as well as well-being at home ( β = 0.16, p < 0.01). Hence, the results indicate that children whose parents perceive themselves as being autonomy- and competence-supportive during their children’s homework completion feel more well at school and home compared to other children. The variance explained was 14% for well-being at school and 4% for well-being at home. The last two columns in Table 3 present the results for the prediction of mathematics and language achievement. Mathematics achievement was predicted by EFSC ( β = 0.22, p < 0.01) and female gender ( β = −0.12, p < 0.05). Language achievement was predicted by EFSC ( β = 0.19, p < 0.05) and female gender ( β = 0.12, p < 0.05). The results thus indicate that a well-functioning communication between schools, teachers, and parents may improve students’ achievement in mathematics and the language domain. The percentage of variance explained was 6% for mathematics achievement and 6% for language achievement. In sum, the study provided first evidence for the German context that EFSC may improve the quality of parental homework support in terms of autonomy and competence support. Moreover, EFSC proved to be beneficial for students’ well-being at home and may foster mathematics and language achievement.
Mediating Role of Parental Homework Help
In order to gain deeper insights into the mechanisms of the relationships found in the previous section, our third research question concerned the mediating role of parental homework involvement in the relationship between EFSC and well-being as well as school achievement. Figure 1 shows the results of a structural equation model. For the sake of easier readability, only significant pathways are shown. Overall, the model shows excellent model fit to the data: χ 2 (22, N = 309) = 32.21, CFI = 0.99, TLI = 0.97; SRMR = 0.02, RMSEA = 0.04.
Figure 1 . Structural model for the associations between effective family-school communication, quality of parental homework involvement, and students’ desired outcomes after controlling for parental SES and student gender. Note: N = 309, * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001. For reasons of simplification, only significant path coefficients are shown.
After controlling for socioeconomic status and female gender, EFSC was found to be positively associated with parental homework involvement ( β = 0.40, p < 0.001). Compared with the regression coefficients found in regression analyses (see Table 3 , model 2), the relationship between EFSC and well-being at school remained at a substantial level ( β = 0.35, p < 0.001). However, the coefficient for the relationship between EFSC and mathematics achievement slightly decreased from β = 0.19 to β = 0.15 ( p < 0.05). Moreover, the inclusion of parental homework involvement in our analyses led to reduced coefficients for the relationship between EFSC and well-being at home ( β = −0.01) and language achievement ( β = 0.00). These relationships were no longer statistically significant.
In addition to the direct effects, indirect effects of the predictor EFSC on well-being and achievement as mediated by parental homework support were examined. The inclusion of the mediator variables partly led to different regression coefficients for EFSC, indicating the mediating role of parental homework involvement. The indirect effect of EFSC on well-being at home was statistically significant ( β = 0.17, p < 0.01), indicating a full mediation of the relationship. The indirect relationship between EFSC and mathematics achievement was statistically significant ( β = 0.07, p < 0.01), indicating a partial mediation. Furthermore, the indirect effect of EFSC on language achievement was statistically significant ( β = 0.19, p < 0.001), indicating a full mediation. Because the link between parental homework involvement and well-being at school was not found, the indirect effect was not examined.
Together, the results demonstrated that the quality of parental homework support fully mediated the relations of EFSC with well-being at home and language achievement, while it partially mediated the relations of EFSC with mathematics achievement. Hence, EFSC had significant positive indirect effects on well-being at home and student’s achievement.
The primary aim of the present study was to analyze predictors and consequences of high-quality parental homework involvement. More precisely, we tested whether EFSC would predict the quality of parental homework involvement and in turn students’ well-being and school achievement. The participants of the study were 309 parents of primary and secondary school students in Germany who participated in an online survey. Three research questions were addressed. Our first research question addressed the role of parental homework involvement. With respect to the SDT, parental homework involvement was operationalized as autonomy- and competence-supportive. Based on regression analyses, we tested the relationship between parental homework involvement and four different student outcomes: well-being at school, well-being at home, mathematics achievement, and language achievement. Our second research question focused on the associations among EFSC, the quality parental homework involvement, students’ well-being, and school achievement in two domains. Our third research question concerned the mediating role of parental homework involvement for the relationship between EFSC and the four student outcomes.
In line with our assumptions made for the first research question, we found high-quality parental homework involvement to be positively associated with students’ well-being at school and at home, as well as with students’ achievement in mathematics and language. This result supports the results of earlier studies concluding that the effectiveness of parental homework involvement depends on its quality (e.g., Knollmann and Wild, 2007a , b ; Dumont et al., 2014 ; Gonida and Cortina, 2014 ; Moroni et al., 2015 ).
Past research has suggested that (the quantity of) parental involvement in schooling is beneficial for different student outcomes (e.g., Fan and Chen, 2001 ; Hill and Tyson, 2009 ; Ma et al., 2016 ). Building upon Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s model of parental involvement process ( Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 1995 , 1997 , 2005 ) and recent studies (e.g., Green et al., 2007 ), we assumed an EFSC to be positively associated with parental homework involvement and different student outcomes. Using a recently developed instrument to assess parental perceptions of EFSC, our second research question focused on the relationship between EFSC and parental homework involvement and the four student outcomes. Our results of regression analyses provided evidence for the predictive power of EFSC for the quality of parental homework involvement and all four different student outcomes. As previously mentioned, Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s model underlines specific invitations from school (teachers’ attempt to invite parents to become involved) as one of crucial predictors of the quantity of parental involvement. Our results added to this model in the sense that EFSC – which might function as a reason to become involved – predicts the quality of parental involvement in schooling. Our study extends previous research on the model as it considers the need to distinguish between the quantity and quality of involvement. To our knowledge, our study is the first to provide evidence of the predictive power of EFSC for high-quality parental homework involvement. Contrary to our results, Yotyodying and Wild (2014) found teacher invitations to be related with the amount of parental home-based involvement but not with differences in the quality of home-based involvement. The authors concluded that teachers presumably increase parents’ awareness of the importance to become involved in schooling, but that they possibly do not provide information about how parents might help their children in school-related topics. In their study, the authors asked parents to rate the extent to which they perceive that their school involvement is expected and requested. In the present study, parents were asked to rate an EFSC in a way that a regular and event-independent information exchange exists, that the schools and teachers use various forms of communication and that information about school transitions is provided. An EFSC might not only act as an invitation to help but it also possibly provides parents with information concerning how to help their children in school-related topics. In addition, our results indicated that EFSC positively contributed to all four student outcomes. These results were also in line with previous studies finding that successful FSPs help to improve students’ performance (e.g., Henderson and Mapp, 2002 ; Sheldon, 2003 ).
In order to address our third research question, we examined the mediating role of the quality of parental homework involvement. Controlling for socioeconomic status and students’ gender, SEM analyses showed that the associations between EFSC and three of the four student outcome variables (well-being at home, mathematics achievement, and language achievement) were (partially) mediated by the quality of parental homework involvement. The results of the present study thus highlight the role of EFSC as a key performance factor that helps to improve the quality of parental homework involvement, thereby promoting student outcomes. In addition, our findings on the crucial mediating role of parental homework involvement in the associations between EFSC and well-being at home and school achievement were in line with the assumptions of self-determination theory (SDT: Deci and Ryan, 1987 , 2000 ). Accordingly, the parental provision of autonomy and competence support tend to satisfy the basic needs of their children (autonomy and competence), and in turn it might thus result in improved well-being. Indeed, earlier studies ( Chirkov and Ryan, 2001 ; Niemiec et al., 2006 ; Yotyodying, 2012 ) have provided evidence for the relationship between parental autonomy support and well-being (e.g., life satisfaction, positive affect, school satisfaction, positive academic emotions). Our results suggest that an EFSC results in a higher quality of parental homework involvement (in terms of autonomy and competence support), which in turn leads to increased well-being at home compared to other children. Concerning achievement, our results were in line with previous studies providing evidence of a positive relationship between parental involvement in schooling and students’ achievement (e.g., Fan and Chen, 2001 ; Hill and Tyson, 2009 ; Ma et al., 2016 ), although they extend these studies by showing the mediating role of parental homework involvement for this relationship. Hence, EFSC results in high-quality parental homework involvement and is in turn related to achievement.
Practical and Scientific Implications of the Study
Recent studies have shown that strong family-school partnerships (FSPs) may help to improve parental involvement. From a scientific view, the findings of the present study supplement this research in two aspects: first, to our best knowledge, to date only little is known about the relationship between FSP and parental homework involvement. We were able to confirm that EFSC (as an indicator of FSP) may help to improve the quality of parental involvement at home, which in turn supports well-being and school achievement of students. Second, compared to the US, in Germany, much less is known about the benefits of FSP ( Wild and Yotyodying, 2012 ). We have been able to show that German parents evaluate the communication between families and schools positively. However, according to Hoover-Dempsey and Walker (2002) , various barriers might hinder well-functioning FSP such as parents having a low level of education, inflexible working hours, or low language skills. For schools, structural elements such as personnel resources influence FSP. Hence, our results of the present study hold strong importance for different groups. Administrators may use our results to implement teacher and parent training programs aiming to promote the awareness of teachers and parents about the consequences of parental involvement. Such programs should accentuate the need to become involved in an autonomy- and competence-supportive manner, as this study and recent studies ( Knollmann and Wild, 2007a , b ; Dumont et al., 2014 ; Gonida and Cortina, 2014 ; Moroni et al., 2015 ) have provided evidence of the need to particularly promote the quality rather than quantity of involvement. Hence, teachers should not only learn how to encourage parents to become highly involved; moreover, they should also learn how to assist parents to be more autonomy- and competence-supportive during homework completion. Moreover, parent training programs might help parents to be informed about different parenting styles and their effects on students’ learning and achievement.
Limitations of the Present Study
First, the generalization of our results is limited due to different attributes of the sample. All analyses were based on parental self-reports. Future studies should assess the study variables by taking other perspectives into account (e.g., school principals, teachers, and students). In these studies, teachers and school principals should be investigated as an additional source of information on EFSC. Their perspectives might differ from parents’ perspectives as teachers and school principals may consider other aspects of EFSC as particularly important than parents. Moreover, in order to improve EFSC in the school, there is a need to identify possible barriers from the school (e.g., teachers’ characteristics) or family (e.g., available time to effectively communicate, etc.) that may undermine teachers’ and parents’ abilities to communicate effectively with each other. Finally, students should rate their well-being in school and at home in future studies. In addition, the generalization of our results is limited due to the high socioeconomic status and the high proportion of mothers in our sample. In our study, the socioeconomic status was not related with parental homework involvement. However, previous studies suggest that high-SES parents tend to be more involved in schooling than other parents. Compared with low-SES parents, their higher education might be associated with feelings of being competent to help leading in higher amounts of involvement ( Lee and Bowen, 2006 ). In the present study, the participants reported on average a comparatively high socioeconomic status. Future studies should take this limitation of the analyzed sample into account and investigate a more representative sample of parents. In future studies, also children with different achievement levels should be considered, as parents of low achieving children or children with special needs might employ other parenting strategies in face of difficulties in school. For these parents and their children, strong FSP might be particularly important. In Germany, cooperation between schools and parents often takes place in the form of short meetings during parent-teacher conferences in school ( Sacher, 2008 ). Commonly, teachers and parents discuss learning problems and children’s grades ( Wild and Lorenz, 2010 ; Yotyodying, 2012 ). Strong FSP and effective communication might result in a deeper understanding of children’s needs for learning and how parents might support their children’s learning at home. Second, no conclusions on the causality could be drawn due to a cross-sectional research design. Hence, a longitudinal research design should be employed in future studies. Third, the study has exclusively focused on functional ways of parenting (autonomy- and competence-supportive homework involvement), while other parenting styles were not considered here. For instance, according to the SDT perspective on parenting, other forms of parenting such as responsiveness (providing emotional support) and structure (providing clear guidelines and expectations) are related with desired students’ outcomes (for an overview, see Grolnick, 2009 ) and should thus be analyzed in future studies. Finally, future studies should investigate both qualitative and quantitative ways of parental homework involvement to gain deeper insights into the mechanisms and differences between the two dimensions of involvement.
An ethics approval for this research was not required as per the ethical guidelines of the Faculty of Psychology at FernUniversität in Hagen and regulations of the German Psychological Society due to the noncontroversial nature of the content and the administration of the study. All subjects were parents (adults aged above 21 years). Before their participation, all subjects were informed about the research purposes. Also, they were informed that participation in this research is anonymously and voluntarily. Furthermore, they were informed about the applicable data protection guidelines and the possibility to quit participation whenever they wanted without any disadvantages. Informed consent of the participants was implied through survey completion.
SD contributed to the design of the study and the data collection, carried out the analyses and data interpretation, drafted and finalized the manuscript. SY and KJ contributed to the design of the study, parts of the analyses, and data interpretation and provided input for revisions of the manuscript draft.
Conflict of Interest Statement
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.
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Keywords: homework, parental involvement, family-school communication, achievement, well-being
Citation: Dettmers S, Yotyodying S and Jonkmann K (2019) Antecedents and Outcomes of Parental Homework Involvement: How Do Family-School Partnerships Affect Parental Homework Involvement and Student Outcomes? Front. Psychol . 10:1048. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01048
Received: 31 January 2019; Accepted: 23 April 2019; Published: 09 May 2019.
Copyright © 2019 Dettmers, Yotyodying and Jonkmann. 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: Swantje Dettmers, [email protected]
This article is part of the Research Topic
Homework, Learning and Academic Success: The Role of Family and Contextual Variables
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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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A version of this post was originally published by Parenting Translator. Sign up for the newsletter and follow Parenting Translator on Instagram .
In recent years, homework has become a very hot topic . Many parents and educators have raised concerns about homework and questioned how effective it is in enhancing students’ learning. There are also concerns that students may be getting too much homework, which ultimately interferes with quality family time and opportunities for physical activity and play . Research suggests that these concerns may be valid. For example, one study reported that elementary school students, on average, are assigned three times the recommended amount of homework.
So what does the research say? What are the potential risks and benefits of homework, and how much is too much?
First, research finds that homework is associated with higher scores on academic standardized tests for middle and high school students, but not elementary school students . A recent experimental study in Romania found some benefit for a small amount of writing homework in elementary students but not math homework. Yet, interestingly, this positive impact only occurred when students were given a moderate amount of homework (about 20 minutes on average).
The goal of homework is not simply to improve academic skills. Research finds that homework may have some non-academic benefits, such as building responsibility , time management skills, and task persistence . Homework may also increase parents’ involvement in their children’s schooling. Yet, too much homework may also have some negative impacts on non-academic skills by reducing opportunities for free play , which is essential for the development of language, cognitive, self-regulation and social-emotional skills. Homework may also interfere with physical activity and too much homework is associated with an increased risk for being overweight . As with the research on academic benefits, this research also suggests that homework may be beneficial when it is minimal.
What is the “right” amount of homework?
Research suggests that homework should not exceed 1.5 to 2.5 hours per night for high school students and no more than one hour per night for middle school students. Homework for elementary school students should be minimal and assigned with the aim of building self-regulation and independent work skills. Any more than this and homework may no longer have a positive impact.
The National Education Association recommends 10 minutes of homework per grade and there is also some experimental evidence that backs this up.
Research finds that homework provides some academic benefit for middle and high school students but is less beneficial for elementary school students. Research suggests that homework should be none or minimal for elementary students, less than one hour per night for middle school students, and less than 1.5 to 2.5 hours for high school students.
What can parents do?
Research finds that parental help with homework is beneficial but that it matters more how the parent is helping rather than how often the parent is helping.
So how should parents help with homework, according to the research?
- Focus on providing general monitoring, guidance and encouragement, but allow children to generate answers on their own and complete their homework as independently as possible . Specifically, be present while they are completing homework to help them to understand the directions, be available to answer simple questions, or praise and acknowledge their effort and hard work. Research shows that allowing children more autonomy in completing homework may benefit their academic skills.
- Only provide help when your child asks for it and step away whenever possible. Research finds that too much parental involvement or intrusive and controlling involvement with homework is associated with worse academic performance .
- Help your children to create structure and develop some routines that help your child to independently complete their homework . Have a regular time and place for homework that is free from distractions and has all of the materials they need within arm’s reach. Help your child to create a checklist for homework tasks. Create rules for homework with your child. Help children to develop strategies for increasing their own self-motivation. For example, developing their own reward system or creating a homework schedule with breaks for fun activities. Research finds that providing this type of structure and responsiveness is related to improved academic skills.
- Set specific rules around homework. Research finds an association between parents setting rules around homework and academic performance.
- Help your child to view homework as an opportunity to learn and improve skills. Parents who view homework as a learning opportunity (that is, a “mastery orientation”) rather than something that they must get “right” or complete successfully to obtain a higher grade (that is, a “performance orientation”) are more likely to have children with the same attitudes.
- Encourage your child to persist in challenging assignments and emphasize difficult assignments as opportunities to grow . Research finds that this attitude is associated with student success. Research also indicates that more challenging homework is associated with enhanced academic performance.
- Stay calm and positive during homework. Research shows that mothers showing positive emotions while helping with homework may improve children’s motivation in homework.
- Praise your child’s hard work and effort during homework. This type of praise is likely to increase motivation. In addition, research finds that putting more effort into homework may be associated with enhanced development of conscientiousness in children.
- Communicate with your child and the teacher about any problems your child has with homework and the teacher’s learning goals. Research finds that open communication about homework is associated with increased academic performance.
Cara Goodwin, PhD, is a licensed psychologist, a mother of three and the founder of Parenting Translator , a nonprofit newsletter that turns scientific research into information that is accurate, relevant and useful for parents.
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Home | Resources | School | Helping With Homework: A Parent’s Guide
Helping With Homework: A Parent’s Guide
The completion of homework is an issue in many families with parents having difficulty getting their children to initiate and complete homework. However, before we endeavour to provide you with a parents guide to homework, there are some important issues to be aware of.
Homework ought to be a purposeful learning experience directly related to the work done in the classroom. It should be interesting and stimulating. Parents can act as a guide in the homework so kids can get the most out of it.
A guide for homework time
How much homework your little one is doing depends on their age. This time frame is just a guide and can change depending on class assignments and other curriculum based assessments.
Kindergarten: no structured homework Years 1–2: up to 15 minutes, 3-4 nights per week Years 3-4: up to 30 minutes, 3-4 nights per week Years 5-6: up to 40 minutes, 3-4 nights per week Years 7-9: up to 2 hours, 3-4 nights per week Years 10-12: up to 3 hours, 4-5 nights per week and on weekends.
It is essential to remember that children work a long day at school and it is absolutely essential that they have time for free play.
An important goal of education is to instil in children a love of learning. Homework can negate this if children come to see it as a necessary evil.
A Helping with Homework
This is what you’ve come here for – the parent’s guide to homework – but remember that each child is different and you might need to make some changes to how you guide your child’s homework journey.
- Take an interest in your child’s schoolwork and homework.
- Make yourself aware of your child’s homework requirements.
- Ensure your child has a quiet and comfortable place to work.
- Encourage your child to use a diary to record homework tasks.
- Make sure materials such as pens, scissors, dictionary, etc. are at hand.
- Discuss with your child the regular evening routine and negotiate dinner time, homework time, television time, etc.
Study Time (for older students)
- Have a wall calendar with major assignments, tests, etc. on it.
- Work out a weekly study timetable around other family events (pin this on the wall too.)
- Daily work should come directly from the homework diary.
Procrastination and Time Wasters
- Avoid putting off starting by having a set starting time.
- Have your child schedule something easy and/or enjoyable for the beginning of the study session.
- Identify time wasters (e.g. television, internet, computer games, riding bike, phone calls, etc.) and negotiate with your child other times to do these things (revise timetable).
- Praise and reward your child for self discipline in getting started and doing homework.
- Beware – by constantly harassing the parent with questions and continually seeking assistance, a child can usually get the parent to almost do all the homework!
Learning Links is here to help
If our parent’s guide to home has still left you with questions, Learning Links runs a number of specialised tutoring services that will work in partnership with your child’s homework journey. Send us a message and we can start a conversation with your about our specialised tutoring.
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