You’ve reasoned, pleaded, and even bribed your child. You’ve taken away everything in his room—even the carpet. You’ve read up on the Top 10 Strategies to Get Your Child To Complete Homework and complied with all the advice—created a specific place to complete homework, , removed distractions, made yourself available for assistance, made use of a timer, etc. You were embarrassed to read the comments on your child’s last report card: Timmy will learn best if he actually completes his own homework. Thank you for your understanding. You even made a recording of yourself saying, “Finish your homework”, which you play back in 30 second intervals during homework time to avoid losing your voice. None of these things have worked consistently, so you finally blurt out the unimaginable to your child…”I hate homework!” Oops. But we understand. Consider a few other possibilities:
- Timing is everything. Although your eldest son, who is now at Harvard, used to come home and complete his homework right away, what works for one child may not work for the other child. Avoid comparisons and experiment with the best time for homework, which also may change weekly or daily: right after school while his mind is still “on”, after a snack, after some “down time”, after dinner, etc.
- “Some things are just hard” versus Learning Disability or ADD/ADHD. Your child may fall on a continuum of having homework that is too difficult for them to complete or having a learning disability. Some thing to rule out is whether your child received adequate instruction on how to complete the homework or if this subject matter is an outright challenging topic. Other considerations are whether your child consistently has problems in a specific subject despite adequate instruction, or is she distracted during homework regardless of the subject matter.
- Occasional forgetfulness versus Executive Dysfunction. Your child may also fall on a continuum of forgetting homework occasionally to clinical chronic disorganization. Executive dysfunction is a fancy word to describe a deficit with the set of brain processes that help us plan, organize, self-monitor, and follow-through on thoughts and behaviors. If your child occasional forgets to write down his homework or bring home the necessary supplies, he may simply need a strategy to help avoid those mishaps in the future. Other children will chronically forget to write down homework assignments, write down assignments incompletely or incorrectly, forget books or supplies, or even complete the homework but forget to turn it in! This is frustrating to the child, the teacher, and the parent. Poor grades are earned that do not reflect the true ability of the child.
- Typical emotions versus Emotional Dysregulation . The cognitive resources your child needs to focus on her homework are being used to “work through” or manage a negative emotional state she is experiencing, which makes it difficult to concentrate. These typical emotions may require your child to talk about her day or sort through a social or personal problem on her mind before she tries to tackle homework. A teenager may prefer to do this with a close friend (No offense, mom and dad!). Other kids may experience more intense emotions such as a level of anxiety that stems from needing their homework to be perfect—they may procrastinate in order avoid the frustration of not meeting a specific standard. Bright students may even complete their homework, but then neglect to turn it in because they aren’t satisfied with it, don’t feel that it reflects their true ability, or don’t want their teacher to evaluate it.
Call and schedule a complimentary consultation. We’ll help you determine if you simply need some strategies to help your child be successful, or if your child needs a formal evaluation to uncover a deficit in the way the brain processes information or emotion, which may require a different approach. Either way, we’re here to help.