Involving Latino Parents in Homework
David Campos, Rocio Delgado, and Mary Esther Soto Huerta
It is important to formally notify children and parents about the homework policy at your school. Because many Latino parents are not familiar with the U.S. educational system and the nuances associated with classroom instruction, as well as regional influences, they may not fully understand what homework suggests and involves. Latino parents who do not speak, read, or write English face the dilemma of distinguishing varying types of important papers sent by schools (such as applications for reduced-price meals, invitations to PTA meetings, and so forth). This situation is particularly common for families that do not participate in a social network that can offer support in understanding the information sent by schools. Another consideration is that children may not convey information about the homework they have been assigned, remaining tight-lipped because they do not want to burden the family or hamper their own plans for watching TV or playing video games.
Parents who emigrated from countries where the schooling and resources were limited may have never had homework, so they also do not understand its purpose. Some may even believe that the tasks that their children are assigned- for example, to color, draw a picture, make words rhyme, and so on-lack academic merit. Thus it is essential to clearly explain to both children and their parents the purpose that homework fulfills.
Teach Children and Parents the Value of Homework
As early in the school year as possible- perhaps with the first homework assignment of the year - create a lesson that teaches the children how important homework is for their schooling. In addition to the benefits discussed thus far, stress in a developmentally appropriate fashion that homework does the following:
* Builds students' knowledge of subject matter they have learned at school.
* Helps them master grade-level skills and build upon them.
* Helps their parents assess how they are progressing.
* Helps teachers evaluate the students' needs and adjust their instruction accordingly.
* Allows for children to interact with their parents (for example, they can have their parents review their work, or they can interpret and explain how they completed their work).
* Builds the foundation for lifelong learning because they learn to make time for learning at home.
The overall goal is to help them understand that homework is a significant aspect of their entire education. Once you have discussed the benefits of homework with your students, send a letter home to parents making the same points. Reproducible A.10a (and its Spanish-language counterpart in Reproducible A.10b) is a letter that can be distributed to parents. Also, you can use some of the statements found in Figure 6.1 to make posters and displays for your classroom or the school's parent/community room.
Reproducible A. 10a: Homework Is Wonderful
I trust that all is well with you and your family. Today, I spoke with the students about their responsibility for doing homework. I mentioned that homework is beneficial for ---
Teachers, because homework . . .
* Allows for another person to reteach the student a concept or skill in a different, and sometimes better, way.
* Helps students master grade-level objectives.
* Can involve fun, meaningful, and challenging assignments.
* Helps us evaluate the student's progress and tailor our lessons accordingly.
* Helps us celebrate with you when the child is successful.
Parents, because homework . . .
* Allows you to spend time with your child.
* Helps you to understand how well your child masters grade-level concepts and skills, giving you firsthand knowledge of your child's abilities.
* Allows you the opportunity to teach your child using your background knowledge to complement the grade-level content.
* Helps you understand the teacher's expectations.
Children, because homework . . .
* Helps them refine their skills and strengthen their understanding of grade-level content.
* Enriches their abilities and general knowledge base.
* Helps them learn the importance of time and task management.
If homework is a challenge for you and your child, or if you would like to discuss any aspect of homework with me, please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.
Your Child's Teacher
Reproducible A10.b: La Tarea es Maravillosa
Espero todo se encuentre bien con ustedes y su familia. El dia de hoy, hable con los estudiantes acerca de la responsabilidad que implica el hacer tarea. Les mencione que la tarea es un beneficio para--
Maestros/maestras, porque tarea . . .
* Permite que otra persona le vuela a ensenar al estudiante un concepto o destreza de una manera diferente y, algunas veces, de una mejor manera.
* Ayuda a los estudiantes a lograr los objetivos de su nivel.
* Puede incluir asignaturas que representan retos divertidos y con sentido.
* Nos ayuda a evaluar el progreso del estudiante y a modificar nuestras lecciones de acuerdo a este progreso.
* Nos ayuda a celebrar con usted cuando el nino/nina tiene exito.
Padres, porque tarea . . .
* Le permite pasar tiempo con su nino/nina.
* Le ayuda a entender que tan bien el nino/nina entiende los conceptos y destrezas a su nivel, dandole un mejor conocimiento de las destrezas de su hijo/hija.
* Le da la oportunidad de ensenar a su hijo/hija usando el conocimiento que usted tiene para complementar el contenido del nivel o ano escolar del nino/nina.
* Le ayuda a entender las expectativas del maestro/maestra.
Ninos/ninas, porque la tarea . . .
* Les ayuda a refinar sus destrezas y reenforzar su entendimiento del contenido de su nivel o ano escolar.
* Enriquece sus habilidades y base de conocimiento general.
* Les ayuda a aprender la importancia de manejar su tiempo y tareas.
Si la tarea es un reto para usted y su hijo/hija, o si le gustaria discutir cualquier aspect acerca de la tarea conmigo, por favor sientase con la confianza de ponerse en contacto conmigo cuando la sea mas conveniente.
El maestro/maestra de su nino/nina
Figure 6.1 Phrases to Motivate Students to Complete Homework
Homework is awesome. La tarea es fascinante.
Homework is terrific. La tarea es buenisima.
Homework is great. La tarea es excelente.
Homework builds understanding. La tarea ayuda al entendimiento.
Homeworkbuilds your knowledge base. La tarea es la base del conocimiento.
Homework helps you master skills. La tarea ayuda a mejorar destrezas.
Homework helps teachers help you. La tarea ayuda a los maestros a ayudarte.
Homework is time to spend with your parents. La tarea es tiempo para pasar con tus padres.
Source: Excerpted from Reaching Out to Latino Families of English Language Learners, 2011, Alexandria, VA. (From the ASCD Express Vol. 6, No.15. )
Thanks for sharing this article on homework. It offers some helpful advice for all parents, not just Latino parents. I thought it was worth referencing in the Parents & Families group so I started a discussion there on How do you help your children understand the value of homework and complete homework assignments?
As parents and educators offer their suggestions about helping children with homework in that group discussion, maybe it will be a good resource for those who read your discussion here,