Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork

Researchers and educators designed, implemented, and tested a partnership process called Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) Interactive Homework. With TIPS, any teacher can regularly keep families informed and involved in their children’s learning and help more students complete their homework and improve their skills. TIPS Interactive Homework is part of a comprehensive program of school, family, and community partnerships and strengthens Type 4—Learning at Home.

TIPS provides prototype assignments that require students to talk to someone at home about something interesting that they are learning in class. TIPS helps solve some important problems with homework:

  • TIPS helps all families become involved, not just the few who know how to discuss math, science, language arts, or other subjects.
  • TIPS makes homework the student’s responsibility and does not ask parents to “teach” subjects or skills.
  • TIPS asks students to share and enjoy their work, ideas, and progress with a parent or family partner.
  • TIPS allows families to send comments or questions to teachers in a section for home-to-school communication.

With TIPS, homework becomes a three-way partnership involving students, families, and teachers at the elementary and middle school levels. Parents immediately recognize and appreciate the efforts of teachers to keep them informed and involved. TIPS activities keep school on the agenda at home so that children know that their parents believe schoolwork and homework are important and worth talking about.

TIPS Interactive Homework for the Elementary Grades

Click here to view a list of all elementary grade activities by subject and grade level.

TIPS Interactive Homework for the Middle Grades

Click here to view a list of all middle grade activities by subject and grade level.

TIPS Science Examples
TIPS Language Arts Examples
TIPS Math Examples
TIPS High School Example
TIPS Transitions

Four activities and guide for teachers of students in grade 8. Students conduct conversations with a parent or family partner on the transition to high school. Click here to access those activities, free of charge.

Research on TIPS

  • ASCD. (2001). How to make homework more meaningful by involving parents. (Video). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.  (Out of print from ASCD.  Available from NNPS at JHU. See TIPS order form.)
  • Epstein, J. L. (2007). Homework. In K. Borman, S. Cahill, & B. Cotner (Eds.), Praeger handbook of American high schools, (pp. 224-228). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  • Epstein, J. L. (2011). Homework practices, achievements, and behaviors of elementary school students (chapter 3), and Linking family and community involvement to student learning (chapter 6). In School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools. Second Edition, (pp. 231-246 and pp. 493-554, 562-569). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Epstein, J. L., Simon, B. S., & Salinas, K. C. (1997). Effects of teachers involve parents in schoolwork (TIPS) language arts interactive homework in the middle grades.  Research Bulletin, #18 (September). Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa/Center for Evaluation, Development, and Research.
  • Epstein, J. L., & Van Voorhis, F. L.  (2001). More than minutes: Teachers’ roles in designing homework. Educational Psychologist, 36, 181-194.
  • Epstein, J. L., & Van Voorhis, F. L.  (2009). Implement Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS). In Epstein, et al., School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third Edition and CD, (pp. 275-306) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Epstein, J. L., & Van Voorhis, F. L. (2012).  The changing debate: From assigning homework to designing homework.  In S. Suggate & E. Reese (Eds.).  Contemporary debates in child development and education, (pp. 263-273).  London:  Routledge.
  • MetLife. (2007). The MetLife survey of the American teacher: The homework experience. New York: MetLife, Inc.
  • Van Voorhis, F. L. (2001).  Interactive science homework: An experiment in home and school connections.  NASSP Bulletin, 85(627): 20-32.
  • Van Voorhis, F. L.  (2003). Interactive homework in middle school:  Effects on family involvement and students’ science achievement.  Journal of Educational Research, 96, 323-339.
  • Van Voorhis, F. L. (2004). Reflecting on the homework ritual: Assignments and designs.  Theory Into Practice, 43:205-212.
  • Van Voorhis, F. L. (2009). Does family involvement in homework make a difference?  Investigating the longitudinal effects of math and language arts interventions. In R. Deslandes (Ed.), Family-school-community partnerships international perspectives, (pp. 141-156).  New York: Taylor and Francis Group/Routledge.
  • Van Voorhis, F. L. (2011a). Adding families to the homework equation: a longitudinal study of family involvement and mathematics achievement. Education and Urban Society43, 313–338.
  • Van Voorhis, F. L. (2011b). Costs and benefits of family involvement in homework. Journal of Advanced Academics, 22, 220–249.
  • Van Voorhis, F. L. (2011c). Engaging families in student homework: Action steps for educators.  In H. Kreider and H. Westmoreland (Eds.), Promising Practices for Family Engagement in Out-of-school Time, (pp. 71-84).  Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.