Homework is a window into the student’s day in the classroom. It reveals what teachers feel is most important for students to understand. Sending home worksheets (or assigning digital versions) night after night that ask students to solve problems using rote skills without an opportunity to extend and apply that learning reveals a focus on product over process. In contrast, asking students to work with a family partner to write a television commercial about a machine that solves that same type of math problem, with a requirement that the problem is solved and explained within the commercial, reveals a focus on the learning process and family engagement.

Family engaged homework is also a way for the school to share its vision and expectations with families. Schools that send home activities inviting families into the learning process convey that they see value in collaborating with each student’s entire team of support, both at school and at home. Parents and caregivers oftentimes bring a different expertise in motivating and engaging their own children. Welcoming this expertise into the learning process on a regular basis provides additional information and observations on what issues might be creating challenges, and what supports might help the student succeed. This invitation results in the development of positive, trusting relationships between schools and families.

As families complete their family engaged homework, students bring stories and examples from home into the classroom allowing this type of homework to begin a cycle of positive and purposeful communication. This cycle strengthens the foundation for meaningful school-home relationships.

Read more about the impact of homework by Kristen Thorson and Erin Gohl at Getting Smart