Developing an Android application to help parents keep their child interested in learning
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Parents, especially those with early school entrance children, are interested in their children’s educational development and try to involve themselves in their academic activities. One of the main parental interventions in children’s academic work involves assisting with and supervising homework. Despite efforts parents make in order to engage with their children’s educational development, most parents, mainly those with more than one child, do not have enough time to oversee children’s homework, mostly due to their busy lifestyle. There are other problems related to parental involvement. For example if parents do not have adequate education, their involvement in their children’s homework may cause more harm than good. In addition, if parents are not aware of the correct approach to identify their children’s academic needs and assist with meting them, parents may cause confusion by using instructional techniques different from those children have been taught to use at school. Additionally, most children are not very interested in doing homework and this often leads to arguments with parents. This study has addressed these issues by designing a software application that aims to make homework interesting and at the same time preserving the advantages of paper-based homework while using a technology based approach. Moreover, the application helps reduce the need for parents to guide children through the homework process thus, freeing time for parents to engage in other activities and also helping avoid ‘wrong’ guidance. An interview questionnaire was developed and employed to interview primary school teachers in order to identify the factors that would assist designing high quality homework activities similar to the paper homework normally assigned to students in New Zealand public schools. Information provided by the teachers assisted in designing the application and teachers’ feedback on the designed application helped fine tune some of its features. The activities embedded in the application were linked to New Zealand public school curriculum and provided support for different levels of learning needs. The application (a prototype) was tested by nine parents of ‘Year One’ and ‘Year Two’ students. The results showed that the application met the research objectives of making homework interesting and engaging for children in order to save time for busy parents, parents felt assured that the application followed the school curriculum and provided appropriate educational activities of high quality.