More than once, he’s been put in the chair and asked, “Why can’t I do my homework?” by his school administrators or peers. He’s tried to explain that his family needed the money for the bills and needed to save; that he didn’t have any extra cash, and that he just couldn’t focus on his school work when he knew that the teacher would be coming over soon to do his assignment.
The responses from most people have been variations of, “Why can’t I do my homework? It’s not an issue. We all do it as hard as we can.” Unfortunately, this isn’t an accurate representation of their thinking. In fact, homework is one of the top two stress causes in families. People who don’t do their homework don’t just face the stress of doing it, they face the stress of paying for it too.
So how should teachers and parents deal with this problem? First, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that some students just can’t do their homework or they’re not willing to do it. Then, parents and teachers need to devise homework help plans so that the students can meet the basic requirements for success.
Helping your struggling student to complete homework is really the best kind of homework help. If the student is willing to do what you ask, and is persistent, you’ve already won half the battle. Once you’ve determined that the student has the willingness to do his or her homework, you then need to create a homework schedule. The schedule should include what time the homework should be done, how the homework should be done (i.e. how many sheets must be written), the student’s progress toward achieving the goals set forth in the homework schedule, and the consequences for the student failing to do his or her homework.
A homework schedule should also include some “white water rafting” for students when they get stuck. This means giving them short, immediate answers to questions that get them moving ahead of others in the class. This can help them to feel like they are getting some immediate feedback about their work from someone, which is almost as good as being told what to do by a teacher. And while they’re moving forward, you’ll want to provide consistent homework help, so they remember what you have been providing for them. Provide this consistent homework help by repeating the same steps to the same students on a regular basis, but vary the assignments (and make them more difficult) in order to keep the assignment interesting.
Finally, I think the most effective way to motivate a child to do his or her homework is by using a little incentive that you as the parent might be able to offer. If your child does exceptionally well on a particular assignment, offer to let him or her skip some homework if the grade drops a certain number on the next assignment. If the student doesn’t do as well on the second or third assignment, offer to pick up the slack and complete the assignment for him or her. This can motivate students to do their homework not just because their parents are paying for it, but because they actually want to get better grades, because doing well will get them things such as extra pocket money, soccer practice, or maybe a video game system that they can use to make their allowance go a lot farther.
Homework is probably one of the most neglected areas in most schools. Although many teachers believe that it is absolutely necessary, most children still express deep frustration with doing homework. When you are a teacher, it is your job to figure out why your students are so unhappily distracted by school and then to find a way to fix the problem so that they will happily sit down to do their assignments again. When you are a parent, it is your job to figure out how you can give your child the same kind of motivation so that they will sit down every night to do their homework.