Why Students May Not Complete Homework
What's the deal with homework?!
Although there can be many reasons why students don’t always complete their homework, some seem to be universal. Luckily, alert teachers can manage these. Try some of these suggestions if you find your students (and yourself) struggling with homework.
1. Students did not record the assignment when you made it.
• Allow enough time for students to record the assignment at the start of the class. Have them copy it from the board instead of just writing it down as you say it. Monitor them as they do this.
2. Students don’t seem to take the assignments seriously.
• Make sure students know the purpose and benefits of each homework assignment you make. Take a serious stance when discussing the work. Collect it and check it for accuracy. Enact your policy to involve parents or guardians.
3. Students leave their books and materials at school.
• First, allow your students sufficient time to gather their belongings. Be sure to stress the importance of the work and then problem-solve a solution with students. If the problem persists, even after you have worked with them, contact a parent or guardian.
4. A family crisis keeps a child from being able to complete the assignment.
• Be compassionate and offer assistance. Allow parents to write a note to you when a child does not finish an assignment. Ask them to include a phone number where they can be reached if necessary. You will find that parents will greatly appreciate this simple act of understanding and cooperation on your part.
5. Students “forget” to do their homework frequently.
• Talk with individual students to determine the underlying causes and offer assistance. Check to see that they have recorded the assignments so that they know what to do. Communicate with parents so that they know what the assignments are and can offer support.
6. Students claim they do their work, but leave it at home.
• Sometimes this can happen, but a student does this frequently, contact parents.
7. Students have other assignments that are more pressing than the ones you assign.
• Talk to the other teachers involved to see if you can avoid schedule conflicts. Be as flexible as you can.
8. Students are overwhelmed by homework assignments.
• When you make an assignment, ask students to estimate how long it will take them to complete it. This allows you to adjust an assignment when necessary and teaches students to become good project managers. Offer help to students who may need extra assistance in doing their work. A bit of extra time with you after school will often clear up problems and boost students’ confidence.
9. Students don’t really see why they have to do homework.
• Focus their efforts by showing them how to set long-term and short-term goals. Make setting goals a part of your classroom and you will give your students a steady purpose for doing their work. Make it a priority to build in motivation as often as possible.
10. Students have other interests (sports, video games, television, etc.) that they claim are more important than homework.
• Work with students to set goals, hold them accountable for the work, and call home when necessary to ask for support.
11. Students say they don’t know how to do an assignment.
• Take this seriously. Remediate the instruction and allow students extra time to complete the work. Avoid assigning a new skill as homework before students have had an opportunity to practice in class.
12. Students don’t have access to technology and other resources at home.
• Show them how they can find what they need at school, but be sensitive to the type of homework assignments that you make.
13. Students are capable of doing the work but just don’t get around to it.
• Often underachieving students are not lazy, but are paralyzed by a subtle fear of failure. Talk with the student first. If this does not succeed, then involve parents and the counselors at your school to help your underachieving student.
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Julia G. Thompson
Julia Thompson has been a public school teacher for more than thirty years. Thompson currently teaches in Fairfax County, Virginia, and is an active speaker, consultant, teacher trainer, and workshop presenter. Her most recent book, Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher, Second Edition, written with busy high school teachers in mind, has just been released. Author of the best-selling The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide and The First-Year Teacher’s Checklist, she also publishes a Website (http:juliagthompson.com) offering tips for teachers on a variety of topics, maintains a Twitter account with daily advice for teachers at TeacherAdvice@Twitter.com, and a blog at http://juliagthompson.blogspot.com.
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