“Do your homework!” It’s a common phrase repeated by often exasperated parents everywhere. The fact is, nearly 96% of America’s students are regularly assigned homework. In California, elementary and middle school students get about 56 minutes per day. High school students are assigned an hour and a half, on average.
Homework itself is a double-edged sword. There are pros and cons. Results of a study by Stanford University, say more than half, 56% of students, identify homework as a primary source of stress in their life. Then there’s research from the University of North Carolina Press, High School Journal – according to this 104-year-old, peer-reviewed quarterly, students assigned homework outperform 69% of those who don’t bring home books.
Homework works, but a little help can go a long way. And that’s where the Neighborhood Homework House in Azusa, comes in.
Starting Neighborhood Homework House
Twenty-five years ago, two women, an educator named Kerry Freeman and a member of the community named Janet MacDonald, went into the neighborhood behind Henry Dalton Elementary School intending to offer after-school, volunteer tutoring to a few children. Today, Neighborhood Homework House (NHH) serves students from 11 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and 2 high schools.
The Neighborhood Homework House is about more than getting homework done. NHH partners with parents of Azusa students and provides the tools necessary to thrive academically and socially. What began as a friendly gesture has turned into a thriving, local program. In fact, NHH now has several programs.
Early Childhood offers a “Mommy and Me,” program for 0-to-2-year-olds. It gives moms an opportunity to share experiences and celebrate milestones. For the “older” kids, those ages 3-to-4, there’s a School Readiness program focusing on language and social development.
Elementary school-age children are given homework assistance using a ratio of 1 tutor to a maximum 3 students. Supplemental workbooks are utilized, and students are exposed to positive social interactions.
At the junior high level, the same 1-to-3 ratio of tutor to students is in place, ensuring the best opportunity for academic success. The senior high-level program provides a study hall for students, academic coaching, a curriculum to help prepare for life after high school, and resource field trips.
For the parents
The Neighborhood Homework House caters to parents’ needs as well. There are seminars, computer-based adult literacy in English and Spanish, and opportunities for leadership in the parent committee. There’s also access to a network of family support groups. NHH tends to its graduates too, with an Alumni Scholarship Program. Scholarships are distributed to seniors planning to attend college, as well as college students who once attended NHH.
SCE Credit Union has provided NHH parents help with financial advice. According to Lesley Guzman, the NHH Early Childhood Program Coordinator, help has come primarily in the form of Rick Flores, the Credit Union’s Community Development Director. “Rick has held workshops with parents to talk about some financial fundamentals; the importance of savings and budgeting,” Guzman says. In addition to the group setting, individual meetings have taken place. “One of the moms really enjoyed the workshop and made an appointment to discuss better money management and saving for a home. Rick always shows a genuine openness,” Guzman says, adding, “He understands the neighborhood and the people.”
It’s an established fact education is a path to financial success but it’s also true there are a multitude of inequities in our education system. Low-income neighborhoods don’t offer the same levels of access and options wealthier places do.
Many parents of NHH students aren’t fluent in English and so they find it difficult to help their sons and daughters with homework. The Neighborhood Homework House helps to level the playing field. The NHH has a vision in which they see children, youth, teens and families reach a future that goes beyond their expectations and fulfills their dreams. We’re proud to support this Azusa neighborhood gem.