homework challenges

Solutions to Homework Challenges

Originally published on the Ridgewood Moms website
ridgewood moms

With school back in session, structured days of listening, writing, and studying have replaced summer days of play and fun. The transition back to completing and turning in assignments can create unsettling anxiety for both students and their families. ‎ Many children neglect to write down their homework, leave required books or handouts at school, or simply break down from the stress of their seemingly endless workload.  You can help your child overcome potential homework challenges with the ideas detailed below:

My child forgets his homework!

Many students think they can remember all of their assignments. Some write down their assignments, but on random sheets of papers or folders that are easily lost. Others jot down certain assignments, but not all, often neglecting critical ones. Any of these scenarios can lead to forgotten homework and missed assignments.

To help combat this homework chaos, ‎encourage your child to maintain and consistently use an assignment book. Even if she is convinced that she can remember all of her assignments, remind her that this task becomes increasingly challenging as she moves through school, and jotting them down will help make sure she doesn’t forget any. If she has trouble consistently doing so, create a “sign off” system where you, as the parent, sign off on each assignment in her assignment book that is done, and her teacher signs off once it’s turned in.

My Child Lacks Intrinsic Motivation to Complete Assignments

Some students are intrinsically motivated to write down their assignments compete them, then turn them in on time. Others are able to do so with some simple reminders. Yet for certain students, even a structured daily sign off system is just not enough. For these students, a rewards-based incentive program often does the trick.

Implementing a reward-based incentive program can help students build stronger homework and time management skills. To set up this type of system, sit down with your child and come up with a list of rewards that he would like to earn. Such rewards might include video games, apps, Lego sets, a trip to the movies or his favorite ice cream store, or the like. In order to receive the reward, for a pre-selected number of consecutive days (5 or 10 often works), he must write down all of his assignments daily, check them off when done, and turn them in on their due date.

As an alternative, you can try using a “homework punch card.” Once your child completes and p‎ut away all of his assignments on a given day, he receives a hole punch in his card. Ten punches (or another pre-determined number) earns a reward. This type of reward system can help students develop consistency and automaticity with completing and turning in their assignments in a timely fashion.

My Child‎ Lacks Accountability

Establishing a homework buddy can help your child feel accountable not just to herself, but also to a friend. At the start of the year, talk to her (and ideally loop in her teacher) about selecting a homework buddy. During the school day, the students each write down the assignments given to them by their teacher. Then, at the end of each day‎, they check each other’s assingment books to make sure all assignments were correctly written down. If they were not, the buddies help each other correct them, or ask their teacher for clarification if need be. Next, they perform a book check to make sure that they both have in their backpacks all books and materials needed to complete the assignments. The next morning, they check to make sure each buddy turned in all due assignments. The buddies can even use a daily sticker chart and give each other a sticker when everything is done correctly.

My Child Has No Consistent Homework Time

To develop consistency, it is important for students to develop a routine of completing their homework at roughly the same time each day. Some students prefer starting their homework right when they get home and are still in “school mode.” Others need a rest and a quick snack right after school, before getting started. Certain students thrive on the post-dinner energy rush. While it’s generally better to work on longer, more taxing assignments earlier in the day, there is no general “ideal” time for completing homework. Each child is different and works best at different times of day. They key is consistency. Once a child selects a time for completing homework, he should stick with that time, so that it becomes a built-in part of his day.

 As students move through school, the homework demands increase quickly. Rather than watching your child struggle with these rising demands, encourage him to use these strategies to help ease stress, build confidence, and improve overall academic performance.

Dear Dr. Levy, My son received an excellent report card. I can’t say enough good things about his EBL tutor. She has done a tremendous job helping him improve his reading and writing skills. Most importantly, she is wise and kind. She is always patient with him. Because of his tutor, my son writes with much more ease.
– Parent