Feb. 23, 2018

For today’s busy families, homework can often seem like just one more thing to check off the to-do list, but studies show that kids who do homework also do well in life.

According to a study by Duke University, students with homework performed better in school. It also showed that homework helps improve study habits, attitudes toward school, self-discipline, curiosity and independent problem-solving skills.

Likewise, homework is a great opportunity for families to be involved in their children’s education and gives parents a glimpse into what they are doing in school.

But sometimes students and parents need a little extra help.

“Some kids have a hard time accepting homework help from parents,” warns Neil McNerney, author of “Homework: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Out without Freaking Out.”

Fortunately, IPS offers many fun, flexible and effective options for homework help. Here’s a look at what’s offered at a few of our schools.

“Homework Diners” Serve Up STEM Activities

In September, Harshman Middle School partnered with Purdue University’s GEAR UP program to launch a biweekly “Homework Diner” — where educational enrichment and homework help are always on the menu.

Homework Help at Harshman

(GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. It helps Indiana students with STEM subjects and college readiness.)

Carrie Murphy, Harshman’s parent involvement educator, said students typically stay after school to receive math and science tutoring from a team of Harshman teachers and GEAR UP tutors. They are then joined by their families at 5 p.m. to review what students have been working on.

“There is usually a STEM-based family activity and a presentation on an important topic, such as 21st Century Scholars,” said Murphy.

At 6 p.m., students, families, teachers and staff all share a meal together. Food is provided by The Patachou Foundation, an important partner in the program that’s geared toward fighting childhood hunger in Indianapolis.

“The meals are always healthy and delicious,” said Murphy. “It’s such a nice way to build relationships between our school families and staff.”

In addition to the “Homework Diners,” Murphy said tutoring is offered almost daily after school by Harshman teachers and the John H. Boner Community Center through the DREAM Alive program and the EDGE Afterschool Program. Harshman provides transportation home for its students who stay after school.

Learning Labs at Clarence Farrington

Connection Pointe Christian Church has been an invaluable community partner at Clarence Farrington School 60 for years.

Clarence Farrington

The Brownsburg church and its members help students and parents during Thanksgiving and Christmas with gifts and food, run a food pantry, and also provide support for school staff.

Twice a week, members of Connection Pointe’s youth ministry provide onsite tutoring for Clarence Farrington students.

“Working together, we provide learning labs for students who need homework help or want to participate in enrichment activities,” said Parent Involvement Educator Kayla Hickman. “They bring in tutors to help students, host a family night, which includes a meal and family activity, and many other programs at our school.”

The Learning Labs are held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

No Shortage of Support at Shortridge

Homework help is never in short supply at Shortridge High School.

Teachers and staff offer extensive study time and support in the school’s Media Center during study hall periods and after school. The center provides reference materials, computers and printers, along with the assistance of a media specialist and inclusion teachers who offer individual help.

“Our Media Center is also an official branch of the Indianapolis Public Library,” said Shortridge Partnership Coordinator Lori Armstrong. “There are several research databases and online tutoring resources available to students both in the building and from their homes through the library’s website and library card system.” 

Shortridge Homework Help

Teachers also offer regular after-school study tables or study groups in their classrooms for student who need help in specific subject areas or as a meeting location for group work and project preparation.

“Some of this assistance is actually made possible by Title I funds for schoolwide access to math and literacy support,” said Armstrong. “In addition, language acquisition teachers often offer opportunities to stay after school and practice speaking in the language of study or clubs to explore the culture and apply the language in a group setting.” 

For students in lab-based classes such as Biology, Physics and Chemistry, the school’s Science Department makes lab rooms available to make up missed class work, work on experiments for capstone projects, or provide further study of classroom specimens.  

Seniors in the arts programs often need access to studios to complete their portfolio of work. Music final exams include a recorded component, so students need to record practice sessions and listen for areas of improvement. Visual arts students generate a large portfolio of work with a wide variety of mediums and styles.

“The volume of materials and the art work itself require a space to store items and share material,” said Armstrong. “These spaces are frequently open on the weekends or over extended breaks so students have access to spaces, tools and materials not available at home.

“Our students take advantage of these opportunities and feel happy to have this access and support.”

Additional Help

Many IPS schools offer homework help and suggestions on their websites. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education offers homework tips and resources for parents at https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/homework/part9.html.

Sandra Sears, IPS parent involvement coordinator, said whether a student is struggling with homework or a certain subject, the child or parent should feel comfortable asking for assistance.

“Our teachers are always willing to help,” said Sears. “They know what issues your child is facing in the classroom and will make sure your child gets the support he or she needs.”