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What does parental involvement actually mean?

(34 Posts)
Etainagain Wed 10-Feb-16 14:37:15

Just that really. I started a thread on here about something else and those who kindly replied made me realise that I'm probably not involved enough.

My parents didn't show the slightest bit of interest in my education and so I thought that by asking my DC questions such as 'how was your day', 'any homework' and general nagging was 'showing an interest'. I also make sure that their attendance is good (no days off for shopping trips unlike some of their friends) and, if they slip a grade, I always ask them why that happened and, if they slip a lot, I speak to the teacher about what my DC can do to improve. I also go to all the parents evenings (my parents never went to one of mine).

At DS's Yr 6 open evening at primary school, his teacher said something about her not levelling the homework because kids get help from their parents. I always thought that the point of HW was to do it independently, so I don't really get involved. As for the DCs at secondary school, I don't think I would be able to help if I wanted to. But should I be trying to learn what they are doing? Should I be sitting alongside them when they work or read the books that they are reading? I'm beginning to think that I am actually a very lazy parent.

eyebrowse Wed 10-Feb-16 14:51:31

Coursework at GCSEs has been stopped partly because so much was actually being done by parents.

Children who do the work themselves will actually be much better set up for life than if their parents are doing it for them. At secondary school its worth while making sure they are doing their homework and doing a few spot checks so you know if the level of work has deteriorated.

VulcanWoman Wed 10-Feb-16 14:55:24

I'm the same as you, I personally think this is a good level.

findasolution Wed 10-Feb-16 15:07:16

Same as you too. Rightly or wrongly, if my DD was struggling with anything at junior school, I would tell her to hand it in uncompleted and I'd pop a note in her homework diary to say there was an issue with her understanding. This is so the teacher could pick it up and go over with her, if necessary.

However, a LOT of the parents would sit alongside their children each night, and do their homework for them if the child struggled. They'd be on a select parents' whatsapp collectively answering tricky maths questions. The homework would take hours I swear, when we would see 15 mins max. Bizarre.

If there was internet research needed, I'd give her pointers, but not do it for her.

I read with her in the early days, but admittedly did give up for a host of stuff, but she could have benefitted from this being more regular as I think it's a nice thing to do together, her dad was better at this.

Now in Y7, she's very self disciplined and gets homework done with no intervention.

You're not a lazy parent. But I guess, from your other thread, we need to step in a little more than our own parents did with some addition support tools as and when we see our children struggling, IF the school is not able to support due to the factors you have raised.

I think it's about providing the support necessary to allow your DC to develop into an independent learner. For example, DS1 (yr8) sometimes lacks confidence and will sometimes panic if sees a question that he can't immediately understand. I would sit with him and go through the question and help him work out what it means but I would expect him to answer it by himself. If maths is tricky I might point him to a video tutorial on the internet so he can revise how to do it but I wouldn't do it for him.

In Yr7 I told him that he wasn't doing enough revision for his end of year exams. He said he was so I left him to it. He did OK but not as well as he wanted and now understands about revision. Better he worked it out for himself before his GCSEs.

mercifulTehlu Wed 10-Feb-16 18:41:10

Same as you. And I'm a teacher! It really annoys me that some parents pretty much do their dc's homework for them. It does not do the kids any favours. Teachers aren't fooled either - we know what the kids are capable of because we see them work independently in class. When we see perfect homework come in, with more advanced vocab and no spelling mistakes, it's pretty bloody obvious why.

I'll give my dc a bit of guidance on their homework if they ask, but otherwise I just let them get on with it, and mine are only 7 and 10. It's good practice for when they are older.

TeenAndTween Wed 10-Feb-16 18:50:11

I think your level of involvement is fine.

I do more, but because my kids need it iyswim, not because I want to particularly.

So I do help DD2, y6, with HW, otherwise it would be a pointless exercise for her and she would gain nothing by doing it all wrong . But I always annotate the level of help given and work closely with the school.

It turned out in y11 that DD1 has dyspraxia, which explained why she needed so much help throughout secondary. I am hoping DD2 will not require the same level of input.

Lurkedforever1 Wed 10-Feb-16 18:52:35

I support dd as in providing stuff. Eg pointing her in the direction of where to research, or doing stuff like museums that give her the opportunity. If she was genuinely stuck I'd explain something, same as when she was younger I'd have to explain non school curriculum things that she asked about in child appropriate ways she could understand. I'm more likely to support it by going off at a tangent though, or having a general conversation on random related things. I tend to take the attitude 'the teacher doesn't want to see my work' and have been known to make her go and look something up that I could answer in one word.

So eg I'd discuss at length ww2, throw in mein kampf, talk about why Russia has always been hard to invade, women/ feminism during and post war, the moral debate on Hiroshima etc. But would make her Google the date of D-day if she forgot, and make her research eg evacuation if that was the homework aspect of it, before I'd add anything on that topic.

If she had ever got genuinely stuck on homework, I would have re- explained what she needed to do, but only if there was no other way.

ProfGrammaticus Wed 10-Feb-16 18:54:53

Absolutely don't do their homework, I never have and I never will.

But "being involved" at secondary I do think includes helping them think through what work they have, and when they will need to do it. It also involves helping them avoid distractions, eg by putting their phones outside their rooms, and helping them plan when/how they will revise and what they will do for breaks. It can also involve buying plenty of nice stationery and snacks. And sometimes testing them on content that they need to memorise. Sometimes it involves letting them off chores or being a sympathetic ear when they get near to exams and the going gets tough. HTH

ProfGrammaticus Wed 10-Feb-16 18:56:46

And in year seven it involves siting with them while they pack their bags and get their uniform out for the next day, sometimes even packing their PE kit if they are especially knackered. And it involves knowing in your head where they should be, when, and with what, so that you have got their backs if they forget something and they have their keys and their phone is charged and they know what to do if practical things don't go according to plan.

ProfGrammaticus Wed 10-Feb-16 18:59:28

But no, don't read books they are reading. I didn't even read their exam coursework! But I knew when it had to be done and handed in, and I made sure the printer had ink and paper. (Always make sure the printer has ink and paper...)

Bolognese Wed 10-Feb-16 20:24:20

Your not lazy if your asking the question. I agree you do not do your child's homework for them but I disagree that you just let them get on with it alone. Its not one or the other.

Imho homework is done at home specifically to get, one on one help, from the parent and also to get a different perspectives from that of the teacher. So I help my DS with every homework, some more than others but I never do it for him. If you want your DC to do well that is where you should invest you time.

Etainagain Wed 10-Feb-16 20:24:37

I'm wondering whether I should be reading my Dd's English Lit GCSE set texts so that I can discuss them with her although I'm not sure I would have anything useful or intelligent to say!

Would you sit down with a Year 11 and help draw up an exam revision timetable? I haven't done this in the past.

LegoRuinedMyFinances Wed 10-Feb-16 20:33:25

There's a difference between supporting your child to help them become independent as described by Prof and just taking over and doing the homework yourself.

I support, make sure they've got the essentials for the day, but the work is done by them.

My DS's old school used to annoy me as they would give high marks on projects completed by the parents. The parents were quite honest about it in the playground. Whereas DS, who had support (I got the materials necessary for him to complete the work) but didn't have me doing it for him, was often given low marks when he had worked for hours on some of it. Bloody ridiculous.

TeenAndTween Wed 10-Feb-16 20:48:59

I worked out DD1's GCSE revision timetable with her. But one of the aspects of her dyspraxia is she can't organise her way out of a paper bag.

I also did ~100% of her maths revision with her, and probably 80% of the science. But that was what she needed. I did no MFL revision with her (but did help her learn her CAs).

It is useful to have read the set texts. e.g. Tell me about Curly's wife? Then if they tell you a load of rubbish you can probe their understanding more easily. (That said I didn't read LotF as I found it so disturbing when I first read it I had no desire to reread it). We got the DVD for the Shakespeare and watched together it scene by scene with the study notes.

With a different DC I might say 'show me your revision timetable' and then do a sense check on hours allocated per subject.

angelcake20 Wed 10-Feb-16 22:32:39

Our year 6 asks parents not to help with homework, though I'm not sure how much this is adhered to. I will answer specific questions if asked but that's it. Year 8 DS won't even show me his homework, probably because I'm fussier than his teachers, so I know what he is doing but that's it unless he wants me to test him on something. I was shocked to hear one of his classmate's mothers saying that her son does all his homework in rough, then she corrects it and he writes it out again!

BackforGood Wed 10-Feb-16 22:39:41

Your level of involvement is completely good enough. I didn't see your other thread, but I suggest you keep in mind that MN isn't usually that reflective of a very broad spectrum in life wink

ProfGrammaticus Thu 11-Feb-16 07:47:44

"Good enough" isn't what I'm aiming for for my kids, tbh. I put the work in, so do they, it's all positive. Their exam results so far are way way beyond "good enough".

RidersOnTheStorm Thu 11-Feb-16 07:54:33

We left both DSs to it unless they asked for input.

I'm an arts graduate married to a science grad, so, luckily, we had most subjects covered between us.

Sometimes they'd ask us to look over a piece of work before submitting it or ask for a bit of help if they were not clear on something.

I nagged about completing homework up to GCSE level then backed right off. I told them they had chosen to do A levels and it was down to them to get the work done. Still there for advice or reading through assignments if requested, though.

Transition to university went very smoothly. Unlike the DCs of a few friends whose parents deserved their grades more than they did.

EricNorthmanSucks Thu 11-Feb-16 08:01:25

I've always been super involved in my DC's education both in school and out.

I see it as my responsibility as a parent and one of the primary ones at that. School is just one small part if it.

When they were younger, I kept abreast of all their school work so I could keep a close eye on any weak areas and any areas where I could introduce connected ideas and experiences.

As they got older I continued to do that and offered as much formal help as DC requested. That involved helping with homework.

I kept hearing on MN that this was A Bad Thing. That I should leave them to it. That they wouldn't become independent learners ( whatever that means. As an adult I constantly seek out help from those more knowledgable than me).

But no. They are lower sixth now and all is well grin.

VulcanWoman Thu 11-Feb-16 08:23:58

Good enough" isn't what I'm aiming for for my kids, tbh. I put the work in, so do they, it's all positive. Their exam results so far are way way beyond "good enough". What is the most important thing happiness or success?

Madmog Thu 11-Feb-16 08:49:57

Mine are older now, but pretty much the same as you and reiterating occasionally that it's okay to ask in the hope we can point in the right direction.

Funnily enough my DD was getting excellent for her art in Year 6. We were invited in to see lots of art (ie more than one piece from pupils) and there were lots that looked much much better than hers and had a lesser comment, like good. I questioned this and teacher told me it was clear DD had done the work herself and it's exactly what was expected from her age, whereas some of the others had clearly done the work with their parents and she didn't really know what their input was!

EricNorthmanSucks Thu 11-Feb-16 08:56:02

vulcan why would be either or?

mercifulTehlu Thu 11-Feb-16 08:57:29

Independent learners (whatever that means). I think it's pretty obvious what it means. I've taught many, many children. Some of them are clearly used to having every little thing they do checked and micro -managed by mummy and daddy. They tend to be the ones in year 7 who put up their hand repeatedly and ask "Do I underline the title?"... "In what colour?"... "Shall I start a new page?"... grin

EricNorthmanSucks Thu 11-Feb-16 09:04:35

They behave like that because they are seven. Not because of parental mismanagement.

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