For part one of my new homework series (with homework features every Wednesday until I’m out of ideas… which might be a very long time), a friend recently sent me an email:
I have no idea what to do. We started school 2 weeks ago and my 2nd grader never remembers to bring home his homework until he gets off the bus. I’m tried of driving back to school to sneak into his classroom with him. Any advice?
Yep. I sure do have advice. Stop driving back to his school. You’re only giving him a crutch and showing that you can fix his problems. It’s just as hard for moms to learn as kids, but everyone needs to learn that he is responsible for himself. It’s good to make this an early lesson. A few suggestions:
How to help your child learn to remember his homework
Don’t return to school after hours
Returning to school after hours just teaches your child that there’s an easy out every time he forgets: you. There’s no pressure on him to remember because you’ll always be there. The only way to teach him to remember on his own is to take yourself out of the equation. Instead…
Have your child call a friend
Nothing is more frustrating for kids than having to write down his entire spelling list as his friend reads it over the phone. What? Are you sure that’s the word? … Wait. Will you spell that again?! But having him take the time to do this, and admit his error to his buddy, will help him to learn that had he just remembered his homework his afternoon would have been far easier.
Write a letter to the teacher
No. Not you, Mom. Don’t you dare pick up your pen and write a letter. Make your child write a letter to the teacher, explaining that he forgot to bring home his homework and will do it afterschool tomorrow or at recess or whenever the teacher needs it done. This teaches responsibility to the student and helps the teacher to notice if there’s a problem remembering it.
Call the teacher and discuss
If the forgetfulness has been going on for a while, it’s time to open up the communication with your child’s teacher. Schedule a call, share your concerns and ask a few questions:
- Is my child organized in the classroom?
- What’s the pack-up and homework routine?
- How can we help him to remember to bring it home each day? (Use we and not I or you to show you’re a member of the team.)
Ideas for the teacher and your child to help remember
Sometimes, teachers are fresh out of ideas to help your child remember homework, so here are a few suggestions that may help your child (his teacher and you!)
- Attach a keychain to his backpack that will remind him to bring his homework. Something like these mini Notebook Keychains (4 count) should provide just the reminder (you can even write a mini HW message inside.)
- Use an assignment book. I was shocked the other day to learn that some classes in our elementary school use assignment books and others don’t. We all know how helpful list making is, and teaching this skill young is key. If your classroom doesn’t use them, encourage your child to start (you’ll have to teach him how.)
- Suggest the teacher tape a small, bright piece of paper to the desk that will serve as a visual reminder for your child to make sure he has everything he’ll need today before he goes home.
- Ask the teacher to assign a pack-up buddy. Pack-up buddies are great for checking on each other and making sure that both kids are ready to go. They also teach kids that you can partner to help each other.
- Create a reporting/reward system. Did your child bring his homework home every day for a week? Fabulous! It’s time for a little reward from Mom and Dad. Ask the teacher to let you know once a week by sending home a quick homework happy note. If your son or daughter brings home a homework happy note, take him for ice cream, a new book at the bookstore, or spend 30 minutes doing something he wants as a reward. You’re not bribing, you’re rewarding for a job well done.
- Teachers can reward, too. Ask the teacher to let your child bring a happy homework note to the principal after a set number of days of him bringing home his homework. Good principal visits are excellent rewards to kids who are struggling. Positive attention from the head honcho? Wow! That’s a shooting star for sure!
It will take time for your child to become a strong, organized student, but jumping in and getting on the right track as soon as possible will make later years of learning run more smoothly.
Have a question for a future post in the homework series? Let me know by completing this form.
© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.