By Rosa Conrad
The new school year has begun and many students have come prepared with a backpack full of brand new school supplies. Elementary students are beginning to bring their packets of homework as early as the second week of school, and middle and high school students usually the first week of school. Homework begins immediately without resources being sent home to help parents. Some parents may find that when it comes to helping with schoolwork, they feel the need to learn the latest method of teaching. Last year in North County, San Diego, schools adopted a different school curriculum: the Common Core State Standards. According to one local school district, this curriculum has been adopted by 45 states. This approach to teaching students is different from the way academics were taught in the past. As schools introduce new concepts to students, they forget one essential component: sharing this knowledge with parents.
Parents are being left to figure out how to help their children with homework. Some parents have sought help from tutors in various places such as after-school programs, libraries, private tutors, and even older siblings. They are finding out that helping with homework can be a challenge and help may not be readily available. The issue is that anyone who assists with homework help needs to become familiar with the Common Core Standards.
Schools and teachers may not be providing the necessary resources and information for parents so they can help students with their schoolwork. Recently, a student asked for my help with his math homework at the library. I looked at the instructions and quickly realized that I could not help. The reason was not that I didn’t understand the question, but rather I was unfamiliar with the way he was being taught. It left me feeling frustrated and having to explain that I could not help. I realized that this must be a common issue for many families. I wondered how parents were coping with this new method of teaching and where they were going for assistance.
I decided to browse through a local school district’s website to see what resources they had for parents. After browsing through the site, I found little in the way of resources for parents. Many of the links directed to information explaining the Common Core State Standards but not necessarily how students are being taught these new standards. Several of the links directed to what the learning outcome/expectations were for students at each grade level. The links that offered help with this new curriculum standard were not readily available. Even though potential resources were provided, their URL links were often broken, required an account to access, or were specific to teachers.
After browsing through the site, I concluded the following:
- Parents would need to dedicate time doing research on the tools available to assist with these new concepts being introduced under Common Core State Standards.
- General knowledge of website navigation is essential.
- Communication between teachers and parents is important when introducing new concepts.
- Examples of how to do assignments are needed for parents to understand them and to be able to explain them to their children.
Since students and parents are seeking homework help from after-school programs, libraries, and private tutors, any information that assists them should be readily available from the districts’ websites. The following links are ones I found and I hope they can offer some assistance with this new academic school year.