How much do you know about your children’s homework? How many assignments do they have tonight? Are they on track with their longer-term projects? If you don’t know, you should look into ways of finding out – it could actually make a difference in your child’s academic performance.
A 2014 study by education scholar Peter Bergman found that students performed better when their parents were kept in the loop. Bergman worked with a school in Los Angeles to send personalized text messages to the parents of a randomly selected group of students. These text messages informed parents of every assignment their children missed, and also relayed periodic grade reports and notifications for upcoming tests. The students whose parents received these text messages turned in, on average, 25% more homework than they previously had. They also saw significant increases in test scores and GPA and significant improvements in their in-class behavior and work habits.
Why might this be? Well, quite simply, parents constitute the single greatest authority in a child’s life. When parents tell children to do their homework, it carries more weight than a teacher’s words to the same effect. And when parents have a clear sense of what the homework landscape is, it’s easier to leverage parental authority to make sure assignments actually get done.
As Bergman discusses in his write-up, parents often have a biased view of their children’s study habits, perceiving a rosier picture than the reality. Up-to-date information on homework can help to dispel any illusions that might get in the way of enforcing homework discipline.
So how can you get information on all of your children’s assignments? There are several ways. Many schools offer online portals which include syllabi or homework listings for each class. If your children’s school has a portal, then staying updated is as easy as checking it every day. And in lieu of a portal – or in the event that a portal doesn’t list full information for a given class – making a point to check their planners every day can be useful too. And if you find you can’t get accurate information online or from your children’s planners, you can always email teachers as a last resort.
And of course, if you don’t feel up to tracking your children’s homework on your own, you can always get a tutor to work with them and send you regular, comprehensive updates. While tutors can’t wield parental authority to enforce study habits, they can impose expectations for homework completion, and they can provide parents with more detailed information and thorough feedback than could be gleaned from an online portal or student planner.