Improving homework starts with parents

Sept. 4, 2011 at 11:58 PM
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BEER-SHEVA, Israel, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Parents who want their children to do a better job on their homework should start by improving their own attitude and behavior first, Israeli researchers say.

Dr. Idit Katz, Dr. Avi Kaplan and doctoral student Tamara Buzukashvily of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev say their study shows parents should ask themselves about their own motivations, attitudes and competence before trying to "treat" or "change" their children.

"Parents can improve a sense of competence by allowing children to structure their own tasks and by giving the child the feeling that he is loved and admired no matter how successful he or she is in math or language," the researchers said in a statement.

The study involved two elementary schools with 135 fourth-graders and one of each child's parents. The students completed questionnaires regarding their level of motivation to do homework, while parents answered another survey on their willingness to help.

More than 60 percent of parents reported being involved with their child's homework once a week and 35 percent indicated being involved every day or more than once a week -- only 4 percent said they are never involved in their child's homework.

The study, published in Learning and Individual Differences, found that if parents had a more positive, supportive attitude and communicated the learning value as motivation -- rather than focusing on completing an assignment or getting a higher grade -- then the child's attitude and motivation would improve.

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