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MOST UTAH PARENTS HIT BOOKS WITH THEIR KIDS

When children go back to school, so do parents. In many homes, both youngsters and adults find themselves caught up in the old homework routine.

A Deseret News/KSL poll shows 5 percent of parents with schoolchildren say they spend no time with their children on homework; 20 percent that they spend one to two hours a week; 19 percent three to four hours a week; 21 percent five to six hours a week; 11 percent nine to 10 hours a week and 16 percent more than 10.Jerry P. Peterson, associate state school superintendent for instructional services, said he would be very disappointed if a lot of Utah's parents are failing to hit the books with their children.

Research has shown that "if parents become actively involved in their children's education, they can raise average test scores as much as 30 percent," Peterson said.

The survey also indicates that men spend more time with children when the homework periods are shorter (up to two hours a week) but women spend more time when the homework period gets longer.

The poll also shows that people with less than high school educational levels themselves spend less time studying with their children - generally one to two hours a week. The higher the educational level of the parents, the more time they appear to spend assisting with homework each week, although differences are not significant.

For several years, the State Office of Education has promoted more involvement of parents in schools through the Utah Center for Families in Education. The center offers parent training in how to become an effective home/school partner.

Seeing that children get homework done, but not doing it for them, is one of the suggestions the center gives parents who have a genuine desire to make the child's school experience as beneficial as possible.

The state PTA also is a partner in the center and constantly urges parents to visit schools and be active participants in the education process.

A brochure from the national PTA offers these suggestions regarding homework:

- Understand your school's policy on homework, as well as that of individual teachers. Teachers use homework to give students additional insight into classroom work, review what they have learned and help them to find more information on a subject.

- Realize that the time a child spends on homework depends on his maturity and grade level. Twenty minutes is usually enough for children in grades K-2; 30 to 60 minutes for those in grades 3-6. The time for junior and senior high school students will vary by subject. A teacher can be helpful in recommending how much time is reasonable.

- Set up a quiet, comfortable study place, with good lighting and the supplies the child is likely to need. Allow the child to study in the way he is most comfortable, even if that means he is lying on the floor.

- Turn off the radio and television. Some students can work with background noise from the television or radio, but for most it is too distracting. Limiting television overall can help your student be more productive.

- Give as much help as the child needs, but not more. Be certain he understands directions and do a few problem together, if necessary, and then turn it over to him. Praise right answers and show the child how to correct mistakes without being judgmental.

- Understand that today's children may study subjects with which you are unfamiliar. Use the library or school resources if the child needs extra help.

- Contact the teacher and ask for additional assistance or guidance about resources that will be helpful if your child is doing homework assignments but still has trouble with a subject.

- Have a "study time" each school day, even if a child has no homework assignment. He can review lessons, read or do practices exercises.

- Be careful about rewarding the child with gifts. Teachers suggest that when a child has done a good job, he should be praised or allowed a special activity that involves all of the family.