Grant and Ray argue that there are many reasons why parents do not get involved with a child's education. One of the most critical issues is culture. While some cultures (e.g. Japanese or Chinese) encourage parent-school collaboration and involvement in a child's education, other cultures may not be as invested in a child's education. Some may come from countries where little or no education was available to the poor (e.g. Guatemala) while other parents may simply work too hard to be involved in a student's education. Teachers often fail to understand these different cultural perspectives.
This research suggests that the target audience for this model would be teachers and administrators in a culturally diverse school district. The main barrier in this case is communication. Specifically, language barriers and cultural barriers that may prevent teachers and administrators from understanding a specific cultures value of education, or parents from understanding the educational value of homework. This multi-cultural audience mainly focuses on the population of Latino immigrants and African-American families as these tend to be the largest ethnic populations in a given community. This also seems to be the primary focus for the literature on school-family collaboration and homework cited in this paper.
The primary reason for the creation of this model is to develop a model of school-family collaboration that seeks to address issues with low rates of homework completion amongst students from specific cultural or economic backgrounds. The primary need for this model exists because poor communication and misunderstandings of the importance of homework on the part of parents and lack of cultural understanding and backgrounds on the teacher's part has created a problem where students within specific populations may have a low rate of homework completion or accuracy.
The Homework Helps Model
This model is the Homework Helps Model. The main goal is to encourage parental involvement with student homework and to foster an understanding of why homework is important to students. This lack of understanding occurs due to poor understanding of cross-cultural communication. The goal is for teachers to understand why specific cultures view education and hence homework as less important and for parents from diverse cultural backgrounds to understand why academic achievement including homework is critical to a child's future success.
Homework Helps believes that homework enhances what students are learning in the classroom. Homework Helps understand that people of diverse cultural backgrounds have different beliefs about education and may have cultural economic or language barriers that prevent them from being involved in their child's schooling through encouraging homework completion. Homework Helps seeks to overcome these barriers by fostering parent-teacher communication and cultural understanding in order to increase rates of homework completion and accuracy amongst students.
Step One: Cross-Cultural Understanding
The role of the school in school-family homework collaboration is to understand where the parents are coming from. This means understanding a family's cultural and ethnic background and attitudes towards education. This also means understanding a family's economic situation. Parents may not have the educational level to help children with homework themselves, or may not have the language skills to help student's complete homework written in English. Parents may also work long hours, odd shifts, or multiple jobs to support their family. This reduces the rate of homework completion and accuracy. It is up to the teacher or the school to reach out to these families and find a way to help the family deal with the demands of homework on their time, and to find a way to communicate the importance to homework in enhancing learning.
Step Two: Communication
Schools should not rely on student's to communicate information about homework assignments to parents. Translators should be available to assist with written communication to parents via email or the postal service as well as with making phone calls to the parents about incomplete homework assignments. The school should meet with parents or call parents regularly to find out if student's have a set homework schedule (e.g. assigned times for completing homework, rules for homework being complete before doing other things). Schools should use whatever tools they need to ensure that parents are helping student's complete homework. These include, interpreters, online translation programs, writing to parents in their native tongue and referral services for tutoring if the student needs it.
Step Three: Homework Hotline and Computers in the Home
Several school districts in many different states offer homework hotlines that provide students with assistance with their homework. These programs are available both as a 1-800 telephone service and online. Typically, services are provided between three and nine in the evening and are staffed by teachers, administrators, and college students in the field of education on a volunteer basis. Students and parents can use this for assistance with homework, advice on getting students to complete homework and tutoring on homework subjects in their own language. A second program would be to take advantage of some of the funding provided by companies like Apple™ and Microsoft™ that provides students with access to laptop computers and the internet both at home and at school. Being able to complete homework on the computer with online access to tutoring assistance will increase homework completion and accuracy and will encourage parental communication with the school.
Step Four: United Front
Communication, multi-cultural understanding and access to homework assistance and computer equipment will help parents and schools develop a united front when it comes to homework. Teachers will provide referrals for services that will help parents remain involved in their child's education and students will receive assistance with the homework that enhances their class work. Family information is confidential as is required by state and federal law and all services will be anonymous (since they are provided via phone and online).
Epstein Joyce L. Galindo Claudia L. and Sheldon Steven B. Levels of Leadership: Effects of District and School Leaders on the Quality of School Programs of Family and Community Involvement. Educational Administration Quarterly, 20 (10), 1-34.
Epstein, J. L. School/Family/Community Partnerships: Caring for the Children We Share. Phi-Beta Kappan, 92 (3), 81-96.
Farrell Anne F. and Collier Melissa A. School personnel's perceptions of family-school communication: a qualitative study. Improving Schools, 2, 4-20.
Free Student Research Help. Online. freestudenthelp.com
Grant Kathy B. and Ray Julie A. Home, School, and Community Collaboration: Culturally Responsive Family Involvement . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Suarez-Orocho Carole, Onaga Marie, and de Lardemell Cecile . Promoting Academic Engagement among Emigrant Adolescents Through Community School Collaboration. ACCA Journal of Professional School Counseling, 14 (1), 15-26.
Author InfoHomework Helper