Try an Action Plan if Your Child’s Homework Isn’t Being Turned In
Is your adolescent failing to turn in her work at school?
This is a common problem that surfaces about this time of the year. Like Rene, you may have trusted that your high school student was turning in her work.
“I frequently asked her if she was doing her homework and turning it in,” Rene said. “But I found out at conference night that she often did not turn in her homework or her assignments.”
Chris learned there were missing assignments for his son when the first report card came home.
“I asked my son why the teacher’s comments on the report card indicated missing work and he told me he had taken care of it,” Chris said. “I believed him at first. Then I contacted his English teacher just to make sure. She told me he hadn’t turned in any missing work for the past month.”
Whenever Chris or Rene confronted their adolescent they were given reassurances, but nothing seemed to change. Both parents were perplexed. “I’m not sure why this is going on,” Rene said. “My daughter’s always been a good student. When I ask her about it she says there’s no problem and blames the teacher for not having caught her with her missing assignments.”
There are usually four basic reasons why teens are not turning their assignments in to the teacher. Those reasons are:
- The work is not being completed.
- She doesn’t feel good about her homework – even if it is completed.
- He forgets to turn it in.
- She is disorganized and misplaces her work or loses it.
As a parent, you need to try to determine which one (or more) of these basic reasons apply to your child. The best way to do this is through observation and asking straightforward questions. The first step is to observe whether she completes her work at home. Second, ask to check her homework. See for yourself if the work is completed and if it is accurately and competently completed. Third, find out where the homework goes after it is completed. Does your teen leave it his bedroom, put it in a messy notebook, or throw it carelessly in a backpack? Fourth, ask her teacher what happens at school when it’s time to turn in assignments. Does she frantically look for it? Is she busy talking and is not even aware that she should be handing her work in? Or does she say she didn’t do it?
Once you obtain answers to these questions, you should be able to form some hypotheses as to why the work is not being turned in. Once you have a theory, then check it out with your child. One way to approach it is to say: “I notice that you always get your homework done at home, and when I check it, it is usually done very well. So, I’m wondering what happens when you get to school. Why doesn’t it get turned in? What happens when you’re supposed to turn it in?”
When you have confirmation – more or less – from your teen, talk to her about the reasons why you think she doesn’t get her assignments turned in (“My guess is that you forget to turn it in or you lose it in your backpack. Then, when you do find it, you feel embarrassed about turning it in late and you don’t give it to your teacher”).
Then you should ask, “What can you do about this?”
Get her to come up with a plan to solve the problem. If it doesn’t seem like a viable plan, then offer some alternative suggestions that may have a better chance of working. However, no matter how your child may stonewall, resist, offer excuses, or try to avoid commitment to a plan of action, keep at it until she agrees to try a new approach.
However, follow up with the teacher and with your child within a couple of weeks to see if the action plan is working. If it isn’t, then revisit the plan and find out what got in the way of her using it successfully. If it needs to be revised, then again get a commitment for a new plan.