Setting the right type of homework and engaging parents are key to educational success

Setting the right type of homework and engaging parents are key to educational success

Once again the UK has come out low in international education standings – this time in how much participation parents play in their children’s homework.

According to a report released by the Varkey Foundation last week, a mere 11% of UK parents spend at least an hour every day helping their children with their homework – compared with 62% of Indian parents.

I firmly believe homework is essential in helping a student reach their full potential but it has to be the right type of homework, and yes, parents need to be engaged as well.

So how do we go about achieving this?

Schools should regard parents as a valuable resource in helping to educate children. This already occurs in many schools but I believe there should be greater involvement.

Many parents only meet their children’s teacher at parents’ evening once or twice a year and apart from performance and sporting events their involvement is very limited.

The reason why parents often have little involvement is because many schools do not see the setting of homework as crucial to children’s learning.

However, homework is an essential part of children’s education as it develops independent study skills. Parents cannot help children if they have no idea of what they’re doing in the classroom – homework is a valuable insight for parents, as they can view their children’s progress.

It also has to be meaningful homework. Research projects, while valuable to an extent, in that they teach children to explore and find information and present it, should not represent the bulk of homework.

Homework should largely be used as a means of reinforcing what was taught in the classroom and providing extension and challenge. These elements can then be reviewed by the teacher when the homework is commented on in class.

It is very difficult to compare the UK with other cultures and countries. In Britain, everybody goes to school – this is not the case in many developing countries.

However, it has shone a spotlight on an issue we need to address in this country.

The link between homework and educational achievement is supported by research: a meta-analysis of studies between 1987 and 2003 found that: “With only rare exceptions, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant.”

To ensure we get more out of homework it is time for schools to look at what is being set and just as importantly, how they can engage parents more on what is being taught in the classroom.

Otherwise, we’ll continue to see many young people left to do their homework on their own. It is not because parents do not want to help – it’s because often, they’re not specifically asked to or required to engage with their child’s education by the school.