I’m sure all teachers have been in the position where you suspect that a child’s homework has not been completed by that child. It can be hard to understand the thinking of the parent (presumably) who did the homework. In one case I remember I think the mother did it for the sake of a quiet life. She certainly didn’t gain her son any academic advantages because her spelling was worse than his!
Should parents help children with homework?
However, I am often surprised at the vehemence with which some primary school teachers insist that assessment pieces should not be done at home. Their reasoning is that parents might end up doing the assessment for the child or significantly assisting them to do the assessment and that’s not a fair judgement of the child’s ability.
I don’t agree with that position for lots of reasons. Here are some of them:
- I know that as a classroom teacher, as hard as I try, there is no way I can give every one of my students the same amount of support and scaffolding and helping them at the point where they really need help as a willing and competent parent can give. There just aren’t enough hours in the school day.
- It’s common for secondary school and tertiary level assessments to be completed in unsupervised conditions. (Yes, some tasks are supervised but not all.)
- In “real life” we can usually ask for help or access resources to help us complete whatever it is we need to complete.
- Collaboration and critical thinking are skills we talk about as essential for 21st century learners.
- Some assessment tasks can still be done at school to give a “balanced” view of what a student can do under different conditions. Some children perform well under exam conditions. Is it not giving them an unfair advantage if all assessment is done that way?
- A parent does not do their child any favours if they do the child’s assignment for them. It may gain advantages for them in the short term but in the long term that child is not equipped with the necessary skills to approach tasks in study or in working life. Helping your child to learn how to research and apply critical judgement, to summarise and analyse is not the same as doing their assignment for them.
Yes, some parents are more equipped than others to help their children with schoolwork but there are a lot of factors which predict academic achievement, including parental expectations but also
- teacher effectiveness
- curriculum quality
- school environment
- prior student ability and motivation, and
- socio-economic status.
I still think my major job role is to help children to learn, not to help them to ace tests.
I am a partner in children’s learning – along with their parents.
I teach them for a year.
Their parents teach them for a lifetime.
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