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.
Does your kid do their homework and then neglect to turn it in? Does that make you frustrated, but your child doesn’t seem to care? Here are some thoughts on helping kids turn in homework. It starts with a question about whether it’s even important to you.
All right, so we have a question that we want to read to you from a mom who says, "How do I motivate my inattentive kid to do homework?" But then she goes on to say, "Personally, I don't believe in homework. My kid spends six hours at school, gets home after 4 p.m., and then faces three to four hours of homework a day, so there's no down time, no time to spend with friends, or even just relax."
It's hard when our values are questioned
...are out of sync with what's expected.
Part of this is about understanding what your child really wants, and so it may be that your child's in line with you, and says, "I really don't want to do homework either." Or your child might be, "My gosh, I really want to get it done." A lot of our kids are focused on pleasing, and doing really well, and so that's the first thing, is to just check in and make sure you're in the same groove that your child is, on this.
The second piece of it is to know that you really do have choices in the matter, and it doesn't always feel like that, because one of the choices probably feels pretty stinky. But this is taking me back to the decision I made to let my son fail band class in 7th grade. It was a lot of work for him to fill out all those little things that said he practiced, and he actually practiced, but he was failing because he wasn't actually turning in his stuff. So we made the choice. I think that that's part of it, is just reflecting on what choices you do have, and being conscious about that.
What I would add to that is bringing your kid into that conversation like we did. My son was in an exam period, and was really struggling with a paper that he didn't like the topic, he didn't like the book, he didn't like anything, and he was really having a hard time. I finally looked at him, and I said, "So what if you don't write it?" And he paused, and processed it, and figured it out, and then he came back and he said, "No, I'd lose two grades, too many grades-- It's not worth it." But then when he went to finish the paper, he had a different motivation, actually. It was his decision to do it, instead of just something he had to do, and that made a huge difference.
At the end of the day, whether our kids do their homework, or choose to turn it in, is about how invested they are, and how reasonable it is. Start by getting clear on the real challenge before you focus on the goal of turning in homework.
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