Should parents contribute to homework?


This morning I was asked to contribute to a BBC Radio Oxford debate on the theme: should parents contribute to their child’s homework? For the parents of home-schooled children, this is a non-question as there  is only one possible answer: yes. Parents can and should contribute to their child’s educational progress in any number of ways.

Of course, there are a few situations in which it is inappropriate to intervene, most notably with coursework which is supposed to be the child’s individual work and will be marked accordingly.  Inappropriate parental contributions to coursework have led to a situation in which the whole GCSE system has changed and coursework has been replaced by controlled assessment, so such cheating will not be possible in future anyway. Parents who simply do their child’s homework and say “there it is, take it in to your teacher” are also taking an extremely short-term view. Such parents want their child to over-achieve and don’t care how they get there. Such cheating will set a bad example in all sorts of ways.  There is a world of difference between this and exploring the set work and finding ways to enhance  the child’s understanding or set them off in the right direction.

Homework is a great opportunity for parents and schoolchildren to interact productively in the home – to communicate, solve problems, share knowledge and experience, overcome obstacles, etc. Parents can often rediscover the joy of learning and their enthusiasm should contribute to the child’s motivation. It is not helpful to see parents and teachers as being in opposite camps, or to assume that the teacher is the sole helper and validator. At Oxford Home Schooling, we view the parent as at least as important as the teacher, providing one-to-one guidance on a daily basis, i.e. far more frequently than the teacher. In school, teachers are not equipped to give as much personalised one-to-one support as they would like and parents can fill that “gap”. So parents can make a big, positive contribution to their child’s educational and personal development by getting involved in schoolwork that is tackled in the home environment.

Dr Nicholas Smith

Principal

Oxford Home Schooling

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