Dads Helping With Homework

Each school is a little bit different. Each grade has its own challenges and benefits. From pre-k to college, being involved with your child’s education is important. For many parents helping with homework can seem daunting. How much time do you spend? What if you don’t know the answer? What if your kids don’t want your help?

Here are some tips and resources to help you navigate homework help like a pro.

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NRFC Resources

NRFC Tips for Dads: The Benefits of Reading to Your Children
Reading to your children from an early age will help them become interested in reading – and children who enjoy reading tend to do better in school and have more employment opportunities as adults! Children often become interested in reading by watching and mimicking their parents or participating in child-parent reading routines. Reading and telling stories to your children is not just good for them, it’s fun for dads too. It provides a positive way to stay involved in your children’s lives and creates memories to share with them as they get older.

Dad Talk Blog: Education
These blog posts from our Dad Talk blog cover all aspects of education including:

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Back To School

Strong Fathers Strong Families
Strong Fathers Strong Families has resources for dads, families, and schools on ways to get dads involved in education.  Not sure what questions to ask? Check out the September Strong Family Check-In Calendar in English (PDF 96 KB) and Spanish (PDF 99 KB) for ideas.

Find more Strong Fathers Strong Families Tips for Dads online.

National PTA Back To School Central
Share ideas in the PTA Great Ideas Bank online community, or check out PTA’s Back To School Central for lots of great articles and tips.

Homework Help and Study Skills
From the National PTA, these online back-to-school resources focus on helpful advice for parents in the areas of homework help.

Helping Your Student Get the Most Out of Homework
Organization, time management, prioritization, concentration and motivation are keys to achieving academic success. Tips to help your child, include ways to:

Get Organized: Make a checklist of things your child needs to bring to and from school every day. Put a copy by the door at home and one in his backpack. Try to check with him each day to see if he remembers the items on the list.
Manage Time: rack assignments on a monthly calendar. Work backward from the due date of larger assignments and break them into nightly tasks.T
Prioritize: Ask your child to write down all the things he needs to do, including non-school-related activities. Ask him to label each task from 1 to 3, with 1 being most important.
Concentrate: Turn off access to email and games when your child works on the computer.
Be Motivated: Link school lessons to your child's life. If he's learning percentages, ask him to figure out the price of a discounted item next time you shop.

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Read Together

  • Reading is Fundamental’s "Let's Read Together!" includes a list of resources on selecting books, ways to encourage struggling readers, and partnering with teachers.
  • When reading with young children who are still learning to read, move your finger along with the words as you read. This will help them follow along and start to recognize letter and sound combinations.
  • With older kids, take a look at their school reading list and read along with them. Every time you come to the end of a chapter or section, talk about it together. Listen to what they thought, and share some thoughts of your own.

Source: PBS Parents
Book suggestions and articles, including an interactive Bookfinder tool that lets you search by age and theme for a book that’s appropriate and interesting for your child.

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Tips and Links

What Parents Should Know—and Do—About Homework
By the National Middle School Association, reposted from National PTA
While it sounds like a no-brainer, knowing the purpose of homework is critical in providing the help your son or daughter needs to get the most out of it. First of all, you need to find out the purpose of homework from the teacher who assigns it. Is homework used to finish work begun at school, to provide more practice with new skills, or to complete large-scale projects? Next, sort out the reasons you want your young adolescent to complete homework. Is it to help develop discipline and a productive work ethic? Finally, frequently speak with your children about the importance of homework, whatever the reasons, so they understand why they are doing it. Read more

Fun Preschool Phonics Activities That Prepare Your Kids to Read
Source: About Parenting
Get your kids excited about learning with fun preschool phonics activities that prepare your kids to read while challenging and inspiring them at the same time.

Reading Tips for Parents
Source: U.S. Dept. of Education
These tips and resources are available in English and Spanish.

How Was School Today? Talking Effectively About Your Child's School Day

Talk about your day first.
Conversations about school often happen after sharing something about your day. Maybe a joke someone told at lunch or an interesting bit of current event news would stimulate a conversation about something at school.

Ask direct questions.
Rather than asking, "What did you do at school today?" consider asking some specific questions that will give you specific information you want.

Use the backpack as a conversation starter.
Go through your child’s backpack with them every day after school. You may find the little notes from teachers with assignments on them, as well as tests and homework assignments returned with grades on them.

Homework Help Tips
These links connect you to different resources for helping with homework by age and special situations.

Tips On Getting Your Teen To Do Their Homework...

Create an Environment Geared Toward Your Teen.
Some teens need privacy, others, prefer people around them. Find the place in your home that your teen is comfortable to do his work. Have the tools they need to get the work done.

Pick a Time and Stick To It.
Let your teen be the one to come up with his daily routine. They are more apt to stick with it this way. Set up a consequence if they are unable to stick to the routine, beforehand.

Resources from the Department of Education for Parents with Students with Special Needs

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Dads may deserve that card to mark Fathers' Day as research shows they spend seven times as much time interacting with their children than their own fathers did with them 40 years ago.

While the time focused on their offspring still comes in at a fairly low average of 35 minutes a day for working fathers, it is far higher than the five minutes registered in 1974. Mothers' quality time with their kids has also risen over the same period, from 15 minutes a day to an hour.

But while it would seem to be good news for children, the researchers found a worrying social disparity over how that extra time is spent. More educated parents were far more likely to report spending time helping their children with homework, while parents without further or higher education were less likely to get involved in any kind of learning activity.

The research, by Dr Almudena Sevilla of the school of business and management at the University of London and Cristina Borra of the University of Seville, used parent and child time diaries between 1974 and 2005 and looked at how parents divided heir time between work, leisure and childcare over a 24-hour period.

Sevilla said the research, to be presented at the ESRC Research Methods Festival this month, showed that, while the extra time given by mothers was coming out of their leisure time or time doing housework, fathers were finding more time out from their working lives, indicating more appreciation of the importance of fatherhood versus a career.

However, Sevilla said the main implication of the findings was about inequality. "If more educated parents are spending more time with their kids in valuable activities for their development, then children will be doing well. But what do you do about the children whose parents are not spending their time in these kind of educational activities? That's the question for policy makers I think.

"With this data we couldn't tell the impact on child development, but other research has been done that suggests the more time we spend with our children, the better for cognitive development."

A 2012 study by social scientists at the University of Chile looking at the time-diaries of mothers and children showed that one more hour of maternal time per week can move a child as many as five positions higher in a class of 30; the effects were greater if the mother had been college-educated.

Sevilla concludes that if children whose parents are more educated are receiving not only more quality time from their parents but also more monetary resources in the form of private schooling or tutoring, the results have direct implications for social mobility. In the 1970s there was little social difference in parental time, with mothers who had had post-secondary education devoting about five minutes a day and fathers just one more minute more than their less educated counterparts. However, from then till the mid-1990s those higher-educated mothers and fathers increased the time they spent with their children by twice as much as parents with no post-secondary education. Gaps reached 30 minutes a day for mothers and almost 10 minutes a day for fathers.

By 2005 all parents were spending about the same amount of time with their children, regardless of education levels, but this was due to a rise in general childcare activities on the part of the non-college educated, rather than any convergence on educational activities.

Another reason fathers spend more time with their children is that it has become more economically necessary than in the 1970s, said author and "dad blogger" Tim Atkinson. "Dads these days are far more likely to be 'hands-on', partly because it's more socially acceptable, but also because there is a general feeling among many dads that they want to spend as much time with their children as they can. I gave up full-time work five years ago to look after my youngest, and have no regrets," he said.

"Most dads I meet might start by telling me 'I couldn't do what you do'. But by the end of a pretty short conversation they're usually telling me how envious of me they are and how they wish they could spend more time with their kids.

"The rise in the number of mums working means dads have to take a turn and the economic downturn meant that many dads had no choice but to provide full-time childcare. But for most dads it's a positive choice."By the end of the period that the work covered, parents with post-secondary education spent more quality time with their children. For example, mothers with post-secondary education were spending half an hour a week more in educational time than their less educated counterparts, which represents 148% more overall.

Evidence from parents matched up with what the children were saying. The research looked closely at the increased time devoted to studying and doing homework over this period, particularly for children with more educated parents. Homework time almost tripled from around 35 minutes a day in the 1970s to 90 minutes in the 2000s.

Whereas in the 1970s children devoted as much time to homework regardless of their parents' background, at the end of the period children from more educated backgrounds spent more than twice as much time on homework than children from less educated family backgrounds. In particular, boys from more educated backgrounds spent 20 minutes more a week on their homework than children from less educated backgrounds, and girls from more educated backgrounds spent 55 minutes more.

But however much time fathers can find in a working day to see their children, it seems to be appreciated. Research from Toy maker Chad Valley suggests children tend to prefer playing games with their dads. Its survey said 27% of families think of dad as the playtime favourite, with mothers second at 24% and siblings third at 21%

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