“The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.”
Stormzy, Mark Zuckerberg, J.K. Rowling, Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Adele ….
… the list goes on and on – all attribute their success to supportive, interested parents or guardians who recognised the value and importance of education.
And nowhere is involvement more welcome than with homework.
Parents want to help, but they often don’t know about the homework in the first place.
But with Milk Student Planners communication with parents is just a click away.
79% of parents said Milk has been a positive way forward.
74% of parents said it makes it easier to understand homework.
So, how to help parents help you
Foster positive relationships with parents from the get-go
New parents’ open evenings are the ideal opportunity to outline homework expectations and policies.
Furthermore, it makes a world of difference if your first encounters with parents are positive.
“Hi, let me introduce myself. I’m Mike Dowling” goes a long way to build rapport and establish common ground.
Show you’re human. Not just “Sam’s teacher”.
If you know parents away from the usual “homework not done again!” scenario, it’s easier to broach more uncomfortable topics later on, especially if you have to pick up the phone.
Phoning home is a last resort when time is limited, but, rest assured, Milk will help you focus your efforts. The analytics show at a glance which pupils are struggling the most, saving time on unnecessary phone calls or emails.
Shared goals are a great motivator
Emphasise common ground from the outset.
We’re all pulling at the same end of the rope. We all want young people to succeed. And young or old, pupil, parent or teacher, we all need encouragement.
Praise and positivity go a long way.
Don’t dwell on the past. Focus on clear actionable steps to move into the future.
SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely – targets always help.
How exactly do you want parents and guardians to help?
They can assist in several ways.
You want them to be cheerleaders for learning.
You want them to show an interest, embed routines early on, and then gradually step away: the older the child, the more independent they should be.
It will also help enormously if parents …
… clear bedrooms of distractions
Parents are facilitators. You want them to carve out time and space for their children to do homework.
Too much tech in bedrooms means that books and schoolwork can’t compete.
Rationing screen time and gaming is imperative, however challenging that may be.
We’ve written before about the myth of multitasking. It simply means inefficiently switching from one task to another. It’s not a habit we want young learners to pick up from us.
Parents can check that homework looks complete
We’d emphasise “looks”. We know parents are busy. And we don’t want parents to do the homework, although they may wish, occasionally, to help … just a little.
Children learn from struggling through difficult ideas and making mistakes, and realising that progress isn’t a straight path.
“The best education is not given to students; it is drawn out of them.”
Studies and common sense show that a sneaky peek at homework and homework planners doesn’t take long and goes a long way to ensure its completion.
Involve parents in the learning
Parents are a real boon when it comes to revision.
Testing vocabulary and key terms goes a long way.
We all learn best by teaching, so encourage parents to listen to their children as they verbalise their learning.
To misquote Einstein, if you can’t explain it to your parents, you don’t fully understand it.
I remember one English teacher who would ask parents to read the Literature set texts, encouraging them to talk about them at home.
The best lessons bubble over. There’s a ripple effect.
The students leave the room still debating something you set in motion. You wind them up, and then let them walk away.
In the same vein, interesting homework sparks conversations, it gets spread by word of mouth, and it gets done.
To that end …
Link the homework to the real world, the world of parents
Schooling and education are a preparation for real life, after all.
Is the subject of the homework of specific interest to parents?
Ask a question about something unusual or of local interest that relates to your subject.
Make it topical
What’s in the news?
What’s the hot topic of the day?
What are people talking about?
We’re not advocating an overly political or partisan approach, but interest in Politics and Economics as subjects has soared since the 2008 crash and the referenda on Scottish Independence and EU membership.
Newsjacking or riding the wave of current affairs makes learning relevant.
The election is the perfect time to look at debating and rhetoric, for example.
Remembrance Day compels us to turn to lessons learned – or not learned – from the past.
Our mission at Milk is to improve learner effectiveness by reinforcing the trinity of teacher, student and parents, with better access to student-centric data, shared accountability and less arduous administration for teachers.
Learning is exciting. It is a source of joy. It is something to share.
And homework is an integral part of the process.
Mike Dowling and the team at Milk
“I can’t teach anyone anything. I can only make them think.”