Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Homework expert: Parents, be positive

By Fredreka Schouten
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON - Harris Cooper knows from experience that parents and teachers ought to talk more about homework.

Cooper, a Duke University professor and one of the nation's leading authorities on homework, recalled feeling perturbed when his daughter's seventh-grade teacher assigned C.S. Lewis' classic tale The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Cooper's daughter had read that book as a fourth-grader.

Instead of complaining, he consulted his daughter's former teacher and learned that in fourth grade, the story is read as a child's fairytale. In middle school, it's analyzed as Christian allegory.

"The communication is critical," he said.

Other Cooper tips for parents:

• Make sure your child has a quiet homework spot. Put materials such as paper, pencils and a dictionary nearby.

• Be positive about homework.

• Act as a role model. When your child does homework, don't watch TV or listen to loud music. If your child is reading, read too.

• Monitor your child's progress. Watch for signs of frustration. If your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers.

• Help out only when needed. Homework helps kids learn to work independently and develop study skills.

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