A recent study found that Black and Latino parents check homework significantly more than their White and Asian counterparts. First place for doing something good. We should celebrate, right? However, research actually shows that parental involvement does not always benefit a child academically and may at times hinder their success. Some parents may actually be checking homework too much.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, Black (6.3 hours per week) and Latino (6.4 hours per week) students do approximately the same amount of homework per week as their White counterparts (6.8 hours per week). Fulfilling the model minority stereotype, Asian students spend 3.5 more hours on average doing homework per week. At least we dance better, though I don’t know for how long as there are probably more Asian b-boys/b-girls on the planet than there are people in New York City. We also check more homework. The report found that Black (83.1) and Latino (75.6) parents check their children’s homework significantly more than their White (57.2%) or Asian (59%) counterparts. Contrary to popular belief, this may not be a good thing.
Parental involvement is commonly offered as a solution by policy-makers for overcoming socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps. Parent engagement is promoted in both former president, George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, and President Obama’s Race to the Top. The message: Students can succeed if parents simply step up.
While policies point to parents, academic studies are not always able to draw a straight line from parental involvement to academic success. Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris, authors of “The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children’s Education,” conducted an extensive study examining the link between parental involvement and student outcomes. Their findings about homework are startling. When parents regularly help with their children’s homework, they actually perform worse. The study found that consistent homework help almost never improves test scores or grades.
So, how should parents be setting up their children for success? While Robinson and Harris turned the idea of homework help on its head, they were able to determine specific habits that do make a positive impact. Here is a short list:
- Read aloud to young children (fewer than half are read to daily).
- Talk with teenagers about college plans.
- Make sure your child is placed with a teacher who has a good reputation. This was shown to raise reading and math test scores by as much as eight points. White parents are at least twice as likely as black and Latino parents to request a specific teacher.
- Set high expectations and then step back.
Of course, parents should always seek out help when necessary. Enrolling in a tutoring program to keep your child on grade level or finding a therapist to deal with behavioral issues are indispensable forms of parental involvement.
So Black parents, now that you know that you got an “A” in homework help, and that your homework help isn’t necessarily helping, you can pull it back a little. Children and school communities need all types of parental involvement that isn’t all about raising test scores, so show up. Be honest. You don’t like checking homework anyway. Plus, you need to do some more dancing. The Asians are catching up.