It’s inevitable that your child will forget his homework at school once in a while, but when it becomes a habit, this issue needs to be addressed. Although you can’t be with him at school to remind him to grab his homework, you can establish some routines and incentives to help him remember on his own. Teaching your child how to become responsible and accountable for his actions will establish a strong foundation for these real-life skills and make it easier on both of you.
The more involved you are with your child’s schoolwork, the better off you’ll both be. Heidi Liss Radunovich, assistant professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences for the University of Florida, states that the more interested and enthused you are, the more likely your child will be, too. He will be more likely to actually bring his work home at the end of the day if he knows that you’ll be checking it and praising him for his efforts. Ask him about the current projects he’s working on, go over his homework with him and be available for him to ask questions. The Department of Education points out that you should help your child with homework by providing guidance and helping him find the answer himself, not doing the work for him.
By offering rewards, you can give your child motivation to remember his homework and reinforce this behavior. The reward must be something that is meaningful to your child; otherwise, it doesn’t hold much weight. For instance, if he is younger, you can offer a star sticker to put on a star chart every time he remembers his work. Once he reaches five stars, he receives a medium-sized reward, like a small toy car or a treat. If your child is older, you can discuss and establish a point system. For every day that he remembers his homework, he earns one point to be written down somewhere, like a whiteboard or homework chart. Discuss items or rewards that he likes, designate a point value for each and write them down. If he wants television time, each point can equal 5 to 10 minutes. Five points can be a pizza and movie night, 10 points for a new comic book and 20 points can be a new video game. Allow him to decide when and how to use his points. Don't forget the praise, smiles and encouragement when he remembers his homework.
Establish consequences for forgetting his homework to deter him from purposely forgetting his items at school, but the consequences must be meaningful to be effective. If he loves watching an afternoon television program, tell him he doesn’t get that privilege if he forgets his homework. You could assign an extra chore on the days he forgets, too.
An established afterschool routine can help your child get in the habit of bringing his homework from school. To create and maintain a routine, it must be the same actions over and over until it becomes habit. When he walks in the door after school, he should place his folder and homework on the kitchen table for you to look at and go through. He doesn’t have to do the homework immediately when he arrives home, just put it on the table every day as soon as he gets home. Let him have a snack and some downtime before hunkering down for more work. At the beginning of the routine establishment, you may have to offer reminders. Once he’s in the habit, he should just do it automatically without being told.
- U.S. Department of Education: Homework Tips for Parents
- University of Florida Extension: Helping Your Child with Homework
- Scholastic: The 10 Best Ways to Help Your 1st-Grader Succeed in School
- The Attention, Behavior & Learning Center: Ending the Homework Wars
- HealthyChildren.org: Positive Reinforcement Through Rewards
- HealthyChildren.org: Changing Your Child's Behavior
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images