I believe that all children are much more successful when there is a good partnership between home and school. Part of that is maintaining good, two way communication. Another part is educating parents about how children learn, what their child is learning at school, and what they can do to help their child. There are several times during the year when I send home special fun homework projects, but I also think it is a great idea to provide ongoing homework for parents who are looking for things to do with their child to reinforce their learning, and there are some children who really enjoy having homework along with their older siblings.
I have always thought that the number one thing parents can and should do is to read with their child regularly. I used to have parents write down the titles of books they read with their child and send the list in, but that was a bother for busy parents. It really isn’t that important to me whether someone reads 2 books or 10 books an evening – the important thing is that they spend time together enjoying reading!
I found, created and adapted different styles of gameboards and decorated one for each school month. I numbered the gameboard so there is a space for each day of the month. My directions to parents were whenever they read to their child they would ask him or her to color in or make an X in the space for that day’s date. If their child returned the sheet at the beginning of the next month (s)he could get a prize from our classroom prize box.
Here are those gameboard calendars:
More recently I wanted to provide more things for parents to do with their children that would reinforce what we are learning at school. I made up a list of things they could work on each month that coincided with what we were doing at school, and included many areas of our curriculum. When I sent them home I copied these lists back to back with the Read Aloud gameboards.
I asked the families not to return the homework sheets until the beginning of the next month so they could mark the days they read right up until the end of the month. I made it very clear that they did not have to do ALL of the activities listed. I encouraged parents to pick and choose things they thought would interest and benefit their child.
When the children brought in the homework sheets/read alouds they would take a prize from our prize box. I did not remind children about this homework, but I did keep track of which children returned it. If I was having a conference with a child who needed reinforcement it was helpful for me to know whether parents were doing the homework with them or not.
I had a lot of positive feedback from parents about this format – it was easy for parents, they had a whole month to complete activities and could do as many or few as they wished. The read aloud format was very simple to complete. Of course I received some sheets that showed the child obviously just colored in all the gameboard spaces at once, and brought it back because they wanted a prize. I still think it is worthwhile!