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Why Don’t Kids Turn In their Homework If They’ve Done It?

Welcome to Tea & Tips, where we respond to burning questions from parents and educators — taking aim on one topic at a time, guiding you to improve communication, confidence and calm.

Diane:
This question is just really straight forward.

Elaine:
Why does my daughter not hand in her homework? Why don’t kids turn in homework that they’ve already done?

Diane:
I wish I knew. I wish I could tell you. There's lots, and lots, and lots of reasons that kids don't turn in their homework, and remember that this is one step in the process-- actually handing it in.

Elaine:
So part of this might be working memory. So by the time they realize that it's time to turn in their homework, they may not have kicked it, they may be doing something else.

Elaine:
Maybe there's not a good classroom structure for it, so they're supposed to remember to do when they walk in the room, or there's a basket to put it in and they don't have that as part of a routine.

Diane:
My son used to always be in embarrassed about turning in his homework if it was late. So, if he didn't do it exactly the time that the teacher was passed him and he didn't have it out of his backpack in time, it was like, then it would never get turned in because he didn't want to have to go back up and chase down the teach to turn it in 'cause it was just too much work and too much embarrassment.

Elaine:
Right. What else?

Diane:
They may be distracted, again it's about making sure that the teacher has their attention when they're asking for homework because they may not even notice. It's like, "Oh my gosh, it's time to turn in homework right now."

Elaine:
Right. And different teachers will have different routines around it and particularly, if you have multiple teachers, sort of remembering how you did what can be hard for a lot of our kids.

Diane:
And part of it is that sometimes teachers don't have a great structure themselves.

Elaine:
Right.

Diane:
I think that part of that is about helping your kids to advocate for themselves, asking their teacher to help them to remember to turn in their homework or to check with them. A lot of our kids that have accommodations, this is a great place to put one of those in place.

Elaine:
A lot of our kids need external structures for reminders. Since some of the strategies, they need to help them be successful are: reminders. So for older kids, that may mean having an alarm set on their phones so that when they get to a certain class it reminds them to. There are structures that you can create for each individual child, but recognizing that externalizing the structure is legitimate. They may need it. I use lots of external structures.

Diane:
And the piece about that, and we'll talk about it more in another video, is that you want to make sure that it's a structure that works for them and not just your idea.

There are many reasons why kids will do their homework but don’t turn it in, and a little detective work will help you figure out how to shift that behavior.

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