A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Helping Your Students With Homework: A Guide for Teachers - February 1998
Tips for Getting Homework Done
16. Give help as needed
Students who don't understand an assignment need to know that help is available from the teacher or other appropriate person. Students at risk of academic failure or with personal difficulties may need extra support with both academic and logistical aspects of homework. It is important that they know it is okay to ask for help. In fact, it is imperative that they do so.
Teachers schedule time for students in a variety of ways. Some work with them before school. Some do so during free periods or part of the lunch period. Some give out their home phone numbers.
- Mr. Williams accepts calls at home up to 9:30 p.m. from his high school math students. Students who are embarrassed to call may do so anonymously. Most often, he talks through the problem with them to discover that they have missed some concept. He feels that by making himself available during the evening hours he saves time in class the next day.
- "Some kids come from families who give them no time to do anything at home except chores and babysitting younger siblings," reports Ms. Faucette. She asks these students to come in early in the morning or during their lunch periods to complete their homework in the classroom. "Sometimes they make it; sometimes not," she says. "What they learn, they learn in class, and I can't change that." Coming in before school or during lunch has an added benefit -- it gives students a chance to talk with an adult.
In addition to teachers, students can get help from a range of other people and places:
National Honor Society students serve as tutors in some schools.
Homework hot lines have been established in many districts (reports on their effectiveness are mixed).
"Study buddy" plans have been set up in some communities. These plans can be set up in a variety of ways. In some cases, students at a similar academic level are paired up. In other cases, the students might be at different levels, in which case the more advanced student serves as a tutor.
Peer support helps many students wade through tough assignments. Ms. Dasenbrook asks her students to keep handy the telephone numbers of five students whom they can call to talk over homework problems.
Study centers have been established in some school districts.
- Jean LaGrone teaches second-graders in a Nebraska school where more than 50 percent of the students receive free and reduced-price lunches. Some parents lack the skills and resources needed to support their children's homework efforts. So the district has funded a study center in a low-income apartment complex. A certified teacher is present after school to work with both children and parents. Kids can have a snack and receive whatever help and support they need to complete their homework. The books, computers, and supplies needed to complete assignments successfully are made available. The study center's teacher is given time each week to talk with the students' regular classroom teachers to keep them apprised of any problems.
Sometimes teachers can be a big help simply by alerting students to the repercussions for not doing an assignment.
- One Texas teacher, Ann Brock, talks with her third- and fourth-grade students if they don't hand in assignments. "If they don't do it, I ask them `Why did you make that choice? Was it a good choice? Do you like what the outcome was?' They think things are done to them. They don't understand that what happens to them is a direct result of the choices they have made. I want them, if they make a bad choice, to see what they could do to change the outcome, so the next time they will make another choice." Ms. Brock believes that this process needs to begin when children are in about the first grade. "I think one of the big problems in schools is that nobody takes responsibility for their actions."
[15. Give praise and motivate]
[17. Communicate with parents]