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Baskets Deliver Homework Help


When Kelly Morton, a family and community partnership coordinator, discovered that her students at Eastern Elementary School in Hagerstown, Maryland, were coming to school without their homework, she and the school's guidance counselor, Misti Winders, teamed up to tackle the problem.

"We saw a need to provide families with ideas for assisting students with homework and having a healthy learning environment at home to support school success," Morton told Education World.

Kelly Morton facilitates "Game Board Peninsula," a game in which parents and students perform reading activities determined by the spaces they land on. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Morton)

A strategy devised by the two educators was an evening event that they called "Fill Your Child's Basket with Learning Tools." Participating families ate dinner at the school and took part in interactive activities that demonstrated good study skills and an effective homework environment. At the end of the evening, each family received a basket of items to enhance homework performance -- including pencils, books, rulers, math flash cards, playing cards, and educational games.

"The baskets we gave out contained homework supplies to help students have an organized and well-equipped homework station, and the response from the families was very positive," reported Morton.

Families and students also enjoyed the hands-on activities that helped develop reading and math skills, such as using string to measure perimeter, she added.

For Morton, the highlight of the evening was the laughter generated by a storytelling activity. The students and their families sat together in a circle and threw a koosh ball around the group as they retold a story. Parents and children laughed as they tried to keep the tale going while catching and throwing the ball.

Community volunteers and parents provided childcare for more than 20 young children who came to the event with their parents and older siblings. Door prizes were awarded at the end of the event. Costs for the evening's food, prizes, and homework-basket supplies were covered using Title I funds and donations from local churches and businesses. A staff member interpreted the presentations for Spanish-speaking participants.

"We had a large group of parents who did not speak much English, but they were still interested and able to participate in the activities being demonstrated," Morton stated. "Everyone was smiling and enjoying the evening."

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