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  Parent: Thinking About Helping My Child with Homework

This scale was developed during a study of children’s and parents’ perceptions of parents’ involvement in children’s homework (Bareno, 1997; Hoover-Dempsey, Reed, Jones, Walker, & Bareno, 1999). Items for the measure (and the companion measure for children, Thinking About My Homework) were derived from analyses of data originally reported in Hoover-Dempsey, Bassler & Burow (1995). The measure assesses the parent’s perceptions of the child’s school and homework performance (Scale 1), perceptions of parent’s ability to help with homework (Scale 2), and parent’s report of his/her structuring and other activities related to the child’s homework (Scale 3).

The measure employs a four-point Likert-type response scale: 4=always, 3=usually, 2=sometimes, 1=never.

Alpha reliabilities for the measure’s three scales as reported in Bareno (1997) with parents (n = 20) of public school fourth grade students were the following: Scale 1: Parent perceptions of child performance (school and homework) = .84; Scale 2: Parent perceptions of parent ability to help with homework = .75; Scale 3: Parent perceptions of parent’s structuring and activities related to homework = .80.

Preliminary questions

Participants were asked to respond to the following prompt:

Most children have some homework to do in fourth grade.  We would like you to answer some questions about your fourth grader's homework: for example, how she/he does in her /his homework, what kind of help she/he asks for, and—if you help her/him sometimes—what kinds of help you give her/him.
Before you answer the questions, though, we'd like to know how often your child asks for help with her/his homework (please circle the response that seems most accurate to you)

always        usually         sometimes        never

If one or more people help your child with homework, please name all of those people (even if they don't help very often).  Please tell what each person's relationship is to your child.  If you are a person who sometimes helps your child with homework, remember to put yourself on the list!

Person                                           Relationship
_________________________        ________________________________
_________________________       ________________________________ _________________________        ________________________________
_________________________        ________________________________

Which one of these people usually helps your child when he/she needs or wants help with homework?

Participants are then asked to respond to the following prompt:
“Now, please read each item and circle the response for each one that you think is most accurate for you and your child, __________.  (If you're not certain about some items, just circle the 'answer' that seems like the most accurate one to you right now.)”


Scale 1: Parent perceptions of child performance (school and homework)
Homework is easy for her.
She does well in school.
She tries hard to do well in school.
She tries to do her homework correctly.
When she has homework, she finishes it all.
She does good work on her homework assignments.

Scale 1:  The parent and child versions of Scale 1 contain identical items.  We assumed that children would have first-hand knowledge and assessment of their own performance, and that parents would have similar knowledge based on their 'privileged position' and observations. 

Scale 2: Parent perceptions of parent ability to help with homework 
I know how to help her with her homework.
I know what kind of help she needs. 
It's hard for me to help her with her homework. (reverse score)
I understand what she's supposed to do in her homework.

Scale 2:  The parent and child versions of Scale 2 contain somewhat different items.  The items were drawn from the same conceptual 'pool,' but differ somewhat based on the developmental differences we assume pertain in parents' and children's ability to perceive and assess parent ability. 

Scale 3: Parent perceptions of parent's structuring and activities related to homework
I let her do her homework whenever she wants to. (reverse score)
I make her do her homework over if she hasn't done it right.
I 'get on her' if she doesn't do her homework.
I tell her to check her homework for mistakes.
I check her homework.
I make her follow family rules about doing her homework (like when she does it, or whether she can watch TV before it's done, and things like that).
I ask her about her homework.
I do homework problems with her.
I tell her it's important to do her homework.
I help her with math homework.
I help her when she doesn't understand her homework.
I tell her she's done a good job on her homework.
I help her with her homework when she needs it.
I tell her if she hasn't done her homework right.
I ask her if she's finished her homework.
I tell her to correct any mistakes she makes on her homework.
I help her with her reading homework.

Scale 3: The parent and child versions of Scale 3 contain identical items. We assumed that both children and parents would have first-hand knowledge of parents' structuring and helping activities related to homework. 


Bareno, A.L. (1977). Children’s perceptions of parental involvement in homework. A Cognitive Studies Undergraduate Honors Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology & Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

Hoover-Dempsey, K.V., Bassler, O.C., & Burow, R. (1995). Parents’ reported involvement in students’ homework: Strategies and practices. Elementary School Journal, 95, 435-450.

Hoover-Dempsey, K., Reed, R.P., Jones, K.P., Walker, J., & Barreno, A.L. (April, 1999). Parental involvement in children’s schooling: Toward an understanding of children’s invitations to involvement. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Albuquerque, NM.

The Family-School Partnership Lab is part of the Psychology and Human Development Department, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.