In the August 23, 2006, issue of the Guardian Unlimited, Rebecca Smithers, Education Editor, wrote a fairly depressing overview of why parents have a difficult time helping their children with homework. Though speciifc to England, her ideas/data should echo "true" for the United States as well.
Based on a survey by England's Department for Education and Skills, the facts are clear...and expected. One in five parents report that they are "regularly surprised" by the difficulty of the homework faced by their children. And, seven out of ten parents claimed they would willingly spend more time helping their children with homework if they "were more confident in their own abilities in maths and English." Finally, nine out of ten parents agreed that their children's academic performance was linked to helping their children on homework at home.
The crux of the problem is found in related data: 5.2 million adults lack the English skills expected of a 14-year-old and 14.9 million lack the mathematics skills of a 14-year-old. No wonder teachers often struggle trying to gain parental support for school curricula and teaching approaches.
What's the solution? England's response is the design and offering of "hundreds of free courses up and down the country where adults can brush up their maths and English skills in a friendly, supportive environment."
Would this work in your district? Many questions remain. Who will design and offer these courses? How will a significant number of parents be attracted to attend these courses. And, will this apprach really have an impact....its seems like a "kneejerk" bandaid for a problem that seems to be growing in size and getting worse in degree.