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TIPS: Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork



Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) Interactive Homework

  in Reading/Language Arts, Math, and Science in the Elementary and Middle Grades

NNPS is offering members over 600 Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) Interactive Homework activities for the elementary and middle grades. This special benefit is FREE.

What are TIPS activities?  TIPS activities ask students to talk with a parent or family partner about something interesting that they are learning. Parents are not asked to “teach” school subjects. They may talk with their child, discuss how a school skill is used in the real-world, and add a question or comment for the teacher in the section called Home-to-School Communication. TIPS activities enable students to practice and master basic skills in key school subjects.

District and school members of NNPS may review and select one or more of the following FREE TIPS resources:

Elementary Grades: TIPS Interactive Homework

Early Reading (K-3):

  • K – 24 activities
  • 1 – 22 activities
  • 2 – 21 activities
  • 3 – 21 activities

Math (K-5):

  • K – 49 activities
  • 1 – 37 activities
  • 2 – 29 activities
  • 3 – 40 activities
  • 4 – 32 activities
  • 5 – 30 activities


  • 9 activities for Grade 3

See list of specific activities: Elementary Grades: TIPS Interactive Homework

Middle Grades: TIPS Interactive Homework        

Language Arts (6-8):

  • 6 – 34 activities
  • 7 – 43 activities
  • 8 – 39 activities

Math (6-8):

  • 6 – 27 activities
  • 7 – 23 activities
  • 8 – 25 activities

Science (6-8):

  • 6 – 34 activities
  • 7 – 38 activities
  • 8 – 40 activities

Additional Science (6-8):

  • By Topic/Unit of Work:  62 activities

See list of specific activities: Middle Grades:  TIPS Interactive Homework

See sample activities: Sample TIPS Activities by Subject and Grade

How Can YOU Obtain the FREE TIPS materials? 

Use the special Free TIPS Order Form to ask NNPS to send TIPS activities to you electronically for the subject(s) and grade level(s) that you can use in your district or schools.

Include a sentence to tell NNPS how you will distribute TIPS activities and instructions in math, reading/language arts, and/or science to district curriculum leaders, principals, or teachers in the elementary and/or middle grades for use.

Is technical assistance on TIPS available from NNPS for your leaders and teachers?

  1. Each TIPS order includes a short document: Instructions to Implement Free TIPS Interactive Homework.
  1. NNPS will conduct TIPS-TALK sessions on request to match your schedule.

Or email NNPS with your questions at any time.

About Teachers Involve Parents In Schoolwork (TIPS)

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 Order Form

Goals for TIPS Interactive Homework
  • Build students’ confidence by requiring them to show their work, share ideas, gather reactions, interview parents, or conduct other interactions with a family partner.
  • Link schoolwork with real-life situations.
  • Help parents understand more about what their children are learning in class.
  • Encourage parents and children to talk regularly about schoolwork and progress.
  • Enable parents and teachers to frequently communicate about children’s work, progress, or problems.
  • Emphasize students’ mastery of basic and advanced skills.
Why Does the TIPS Process Work?
  • Can be used with any text or curriculum.
  • Helps teachers organize homework into manageable, focused segments.
  • Emphasizes connections between school and home.
  • Involves the child as an active learner and guides students to share and demonstrate their skills to show parents what they are learning.
  • Offers opportunities to link homework to the real world experiences of children and families.
  • Provides families with the information they ask for on how to help at home each year.
How Do You Develop and Implement TIPS Homework?

Teachers may develop a TIPS program in seven steps:

  1. Select the subject(s) for TIPS interactive homework.
    The faculty should discuss the subjects and grade levels for which the TIPS process will be used. A team of teachers should be identified for each TIPS subject and grade level.
  2. Select one skill for each week for the TIPS assignments.
    The team of TPS teachers should examine the sequence of skills that are taught in each unit throughout the school year. Teachers should identify one skill or learning objective each week that will promote enjoyable and useful student-parent interactions. These will be the topics for the TIPS interactive homework assignments.
  3. Adapt and develop TIPS activities to match the curriculum.
    Teachers should work together during the summer months to examine existing TIPS manuals and prototype activities. Teachers must decide which of the available TIPS assignments will be useful for the skills they teach. Or they must design new interactive homework to match the learning objectives in their curricula.
  4. Orient students and families to the TIPS interactive homework process.
    Teachers must explain the TIPS process and purposes to students and to their parents or other family partners. This may be done in letters to the home, discussions with students in class, presentations at parent meetings, and in other ways. (See sample letter to parents in the Manual for Teachers.) Special attention is needed to inform and involve parents with limited reading proficiency or who speak languages other than English at home. Students need to know that on TIPS assignments they are expected to show, share, and talk about their work with a family partner.
  5. Assign TIPS on a regular, family-friendly schedule.
    Teachers assign TIPS activities to students weekly or every other week on a regular schedule. Teachers may give students a few days or a weekend to complete each assignment to allow time for students to work with a family partner.
  6. Evaluate student work and respond to family questions.
    Teachers grade and comment on TIPS activities just as they would any other homework assignment. Teachers also respond to questions families write in the Home-to-School Communication section to encourage open channels of communication about students’ work and progress.
  7. Revise and improve activities as needed.
    Teachers note any problems with particular sections of assignments throughout the year and revise activities or develop new activities as needed.

See the TIPS Manual for Teachers for details on developing and implementing TIPS.

The Importance of Teacher Collaboration in the TIPS Process

One way to develop TIPS is for a school or district to provide salaries for teams of teachers from each grade level to work together during the summer months. Support is needed for each teacher for two to four weeks (or more) to review existing TIPS activities, or develop, edit, and produce the TIPS homework that will be used throughout the school year.

TIPS homework must be enjoyable as well as challenging for students. This takes careful thinking about the design of homework and about how to build in students’ communications with parents or other family members. It helps for two or more teachers to work together discussing, writing, testing, and editing their ideas. It also helps if this work is guided by a curriculum supervisor, department chair, assistant principal, master or lead teacher, school-family coordinator, or other individual who understands good curricular designs and who will guide the development and implementation of TIPS.

Once tested, TIPS homework designs may be shared with other teachers who follow the same curriculum objectives. If teachers save the activities on a computer, they may be easily shared and adapted by other teachers. Support for a few teachers in the summer, then, yields materials that can be used or adapted by many teachers for many years. The TIPS process is very cost effective.

1From: Epstein, J. L., et al., (2019). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action, fourth edition. Chapter 8. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.