A Moveable Feast: 11th American Literature/Composition

11th American Literature/Composition Winter 2008

Wednesday, October 17, 2007: Homework for Parents? October 16, 2007

Filed under: General Discussion — Buffy J. Hamilton @ 5:03 pm
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Check out this interesting article from The New York Times called “Spreading Out Homework So Even Parents Have Some.”  Damion Frye, an English teacher at Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey, requires parents of his ninth grade students to participate in weekly homework assignments that mirror those he gives to his students.   Parents are given identical assignments as their children and asked to respond on a blog set up by Mr. Frye. 

The point, he said, is to keep parents involved in their children’s ’ education well into high school. Studies have shown that parental involvement improves the quality of the education a student receives, but teenagers seldom invite that involvement. Mr. Frye  decided to help out.

While a few parents have been resistant to the idea, Mr. Frye reports that most have eagerly jumped in and found the experience to be a positive one. 

Tracy Parsons, whose son Danny is the second of her two boys to be a student in Mr. Frye’s class, said that the weekly assignments had changed the way she approached homework with her children.  “In high school, to some degree you have to back off from homework, so they can gain independent learning skills,” Ms. Parsons said. But teenagers, she noted, “leave a lot out. You ask, ‘What’d you do in science?’ and they say, ‘It was fine.’”

While some educators caution against Mr. Frye’s policy of penalizing students’ grades if parents do not do their assigned homework, Mr. Frye reports that only one parent has flat out refused to participate in the three years of assigning parents “homework.”  He states that he is flexible and works with parents who may not have Internet access or who may have challenges dealing with language differences. 

What do you as teachers, students, parents, and administrators think of Mr. Frye’s creative way of involving parents in homework as a means for involving parents to be involved in their children’s education?  The primary suggestion I have is that he have the students blog along with their parents rather than doing all the assignments in the traditional format of paper and pencil.  If students are having the opportunity to blog too, then perhaps more dialogue could be ignited between parents and students.

Let us know what you think! Is this a good idea?  Bad idea?  Somewhere in between?  Share your ideas and reasons in a thoughtful paragraph of 8-10 complete sentences. 

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