We want our children to grow up to be people who can be counted on, and, when given a task, can plan and execute it successfully. We want them to have the skills they need to know HOW to get complicated projects completed, and the discipline and determination to follow through. As parents, we also want to not have constant battles over why homework is missing!
Fighting with our kids over homework is not how we want to spend our limited time together!
We want our homes to be filled with love. We want to enjoy our time with our kids. We want to be able to relax with our family. You also know that your child's future bosses/clients aren't going to care enough about your child to argue with them about getting the work done...they'll just get fired!
I get calls from frustrated parents almost every day, who are at their wits end because their kids are doing poorly in classes because they are “throwing away free points” they could be earning for doing nothing more than homework assignments. Is the student being willful, simply refusing? Do they not understand the material? Did they forget about it? All of those might be the correct answer (and there could be more reasons). To begin to solve the problem, help your child break the process of getting a homework assignment done into the smallest possible steps. It might look something like this:
Be in class
Hear the teacher give the homework assignment
Make sure you understand the assignment clearly, and if you have questions, ask them
Write the homework assignment in your planner
Put the planner back in backpack
Identify any needed materials or information to successfully complete the homework assignment
Attain those materials and information
Bring backpack, with planner, and needed materials, home
Once home, take out planner, and plan when the assignment will be done
Decide to start homework assignment at appointed time
Sit at desk, take out materials
Work through assignment to best of your ability
Deal with difficulties that come up while working on the assignment (distractions, confusion, etc)
Put homework assignment back in its place (binder/notebook)
Gather up school materials, put them back in backpack (including homework assignment)
In the morning, pick up backpack and bring it to school
Make sure you have needed materials in backpack when you go to class
Hand the assignment in when the teacher asks for it.
Now, you might look at this list of steps and think that most of them are trivial. They are only trivial for people who have mastered the skill of accomplishing multi-step tasks. For someone who is learning the skill of executive function, this list can seem overwhelming! A student who is having trouble getting homework turned in may be tripping up on any one of these (or some other!) step in this process.Once you’ve identified where the student mis-fired, it’s time to go through a problem solving process to figure out:
Why the mistake happened and
What behavior needs to change so that the mistake doesn’t happen next time.
Most importantly, don't take any step for granted. A step that to you seems obvious might be very challenging for a student, even a teenager, who is still developing executive function skills.
If you think this process would would work better coming from a trained professional (without the emotional attachment mom and dad might have to the outcome!) give us a call at 858.551.2650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to discuss how we can support you and your son/daughter! -Vince