Because differences are our greatest strength

Why kids don’t hand in their work (even if they did it)

how to get your child to remember their homework

By Amanda Morin

Quick tip 1, use visual reminders..

how to get your child to remember their homework

Put a sticky note that says “Did you turn in your homework?” on a lunchbox or something else kids use every day. Or have kids keep their completed homework inside their lunchbox or on the very top of a bookbag.

Quick tip 2

Try a homework folder..

how to get your child to remember their homework

Have kids use a folder to bring their homework to and from school. Try a brightly colored folder with pockets. This makes it easier to find in a backpack and keeps papers from slipping out. Check this folder daily.

Quick tip 3

Use calendars and checklists..

how to get your child to remember their homework

Digital or paper calendars, planners, and checklists can help kids remember to turn in homework. Have kids choose a tool that works best for them. Then teach them how to use it.

Quick tip 4

Do a backpack audit..

how to get your child to remember their homework

A messy backpack can make it hard for kids to find their homework. Clean out the backpack together. Then give kids tips for keeping it organized on their own.

When kids complete their homework but don’t turn it in, it’s frustrating. And it can be even more frustrating if kids don’t have an answer to the question, “Why didn’t you hand it in?”

It’s not unusual for kids to forget to turn in their homework from time to time. And some kids choose not to hand in their homework, even if they did it.

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Middle-schoolers and high-schoolers may want to seem cool in front of their friends. To some kids that age, caring about getting their homework done isn’t cool. 

Some kids might feel like they’re just “not good” at a class or at school in general. Maybe they had a bad experience with an assignment or a teacher in the past. So they don’t even bother handing in their work — even if they did it.

For other kids, though, getting homework to the teacher is a different kind of challenge. It’s one thing to do homework. It’s another thing to put it in your backpack, bring it to school, find it in your backpack, and remember to turn it in.

It may seem like kids are being lazy or not trying hard enough. But challenges with organization are real.

Dive deeper

Homework and trouble with organization.

The routine to get out the door in the morning is already hard for some kids. Managing to take their homework with them adds another layer. It doesn’t mean that kids don’t want to get it right or aren’t working hard. Kids can want to get organized and still struggle with it.

Other kids may get their homework to school but forget to turn it in. Maybe they can’t find it in their messy backpack. They might be distractible and get sidetracked by something before turning it in. 

Some kids just completely forget to turn homework in. Forgetfulness isn’t uncommon, especially when kids are stressed or tired. And it’s more common for some kids than others, like kids who have trouble with focus or with following directions.

Learn more about what can cause organization challenges .

How a homework contract can help

A homework contract holds everyone accountable for what they need to do to make sure homework gets done and turned in. 

Parents and caregivers: Download a homework contract to use with your child. Use it to outline the ways you’ll help with homework, including how much you’ll help your child get it to school.

Educators: If kids are having trouble turning in their homework, suggest that families try a homework contract. Explore homework contracts and other organization printables for families. 

When kids are completing homework but not turning it in, families and educators should connect and share what they’re seeing. Talk about the classroom policies and routines around homework like: 

Late work policies 

Where and when kids turn in homework 

Online options — can kids turn in homework online, like on Google Classroom? Can they email homework? 

Then use the information to find strategies to try. 

Parents and caregivers: It’s important to talk with your child, too. Ask specific questions about how school is going. For example, does your child feel uncomfortable handing in homework? Is something going on with the teacher? Talk about what’s going on and let them know you’ll work together to find solutions. 

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About the author.

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

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Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.

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Something New

How to help your child remember to do their homework.

Children sometimes need motivation to do their work. Others just need a quiet space. Whatever they need, help them to focus in a loving, but firm way

A lot of parents are under pressure to get their kids to do well in school. You might get anxious about the responsibility, but it is not your job to ensure that they do well in school. You might also get nervous about your kids succeeding in every area of their life. When in school, homework becomes a focus of concern. The battle to complete homework sometimes becomes a battle over control. The child starts fighting in order to have more control over the choices in life and as a parent, you feel it is your job to be in control of all things.

You need to remember that you cannot force the child to do their homework. Instead, you can focus on what helps them  remember to do the homework .

Have Structure Around Homework Time

You need to set limits around homework time. Some possibilities that can be effective are:

2.   Homework is done at the same time every day.

3.   In case of low grades, cut down on screen time  or whatever is taking time from studying.

4.   Do not begin weekend activities until homework is complete.

5.   Reduce distractions

You need to make it as easy as possible for the child to focus during homework. Ensure that there is no television in the background and all other gadgets are put away. This will help the child understand that homework is a priority. If there are siblings, who tend to distract, have your child go to a room where they can focus. You could also consider sending their siblings to their room or living room to keep from distracting their brother or sister.

RELATED:   Parenting Is Hard And So Is Math Homework

Have a Separate Homework Space

You need to design a homework space for your child. It will help establish a routine and the child will know that their homework is to be completed only at this space. They will know to take their assignment from the backpack to the homework space and return once finished. A separate homework space brings discipline and cuts down on distractions.

Identify the Abilities of the Child

Some children come home and work on their homework right away, while many others need to take a break after a long day at school. You need to understand the ability of your child and allow them a little down time, before they start their assignment.

Let the Child Understand the Consequences of Their Choices

When it comes to homework, you need to believe in natural consequences. If the child makes a choice to avoid homework , they should be aware of the consequences of their decision. When a child does not complete homework, the grades will drop and more effort will be required. Do not be judgmental, but ask questions to your child to know whether the child is aware of the consequences of their decisions.

Connect Homework to the Real World

Often children tend to complain of homework being boring. If your child does so, you need to emphasize how it will be helpful outside of the school. Connect homework with the real world to increase motivation and to show how learning helps in real world.

Do Not Get Frustrated

You might need to give several reminders to your child to do their homework, especially when starting a new school year. However, you should not get frustrated with your child, because it is natural to take a little time to get back to the old routine. You might have to put in extra effort, but you need to keep calm!

Schedule Post Homework Activities

If your child needs motivation to complete their homework , schedule fun activities. Talk to your child about playtime; it will only start after completion of homework. If your child wants to use a gadget or watch television, schedule it after homework. This will ensure that the child remembers to do the homework and it will motivate them to complete it on time.

Believe in Your Child

Lastly, you need to start believing in your child. Do not keep looking at your child as someone who cannot do the work. Many parents think that if they do not help their kids, they will not do it. Try to help the kid, but continue to motivate them. Believe in your child and never put the child down in front of other children.

Use these ways to help support your child, as they do their homework . It does not have to be stressful for you nor your child. Homework can actually become a fun activity for you and your child, if you have the right approach to it.

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how to get your child to remember their homework

Inside the ADHD mind

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Turning It In Should Be the Easy Part of Homework, Right?

Even when they complete their homework, students with adhd don’t always remember to turn in assignments on time — or at all. help your kid get credit for all her hard work by setting up these fool-proof organization systems at school and home..

A checklist with different school subjects, written on a chalkboard, that would help a kid who was not turning in homework

The problem: The student with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) consistently neglects turning in homework or long-term projects, even though she claims to have completed the work.

The reason: Children with ADHD  have difficulty keeping track of bits of information and paperwork. This problem is likely related to underactive frontal lobes — the area of the brain that controls memory and processing. It’s because of this difference in brain activity that children with ADHD have a hard time focusing on more than one thing at a time.

The obstacles: Children with ADHD often want to complete their work and turn it in on time, but often lack the organizational skills or the memory capacity of other youngsters their age. These students may forget something that just happened as their focus shifts from one task to another or from one class to another. When completing an assignment, for example, students have to work their way through many tasks — including listening to and recording what needs to be done, doing the assignment, and turning it in. It’s very easy for children with ADHD to get interrupted along the way and forget where they are in the process.

Parents and teachers will often find this ADHD behavior puzzling because we assume that, if someone can do something one day, they should have the skill to do it the next day. But mental disorganization causes these children to be inconsistent, leading adults to believe the lapse is intentional. When teachers respond by giving zeroes or bad grades, it only discourages the child and doesn’t solve the problem.

Solutions in the Classroom

Children with ADHD need a high degree of supervision and structure in the classroom. A monitoring system that provides students with cues and reminders can help.

[ Free Parenting Resource: Solve Your Child’s Homework Problems ]

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Solutions at Home

Children with ADHD need parents to help them set up a system to get from the beginning of a project to the end.

Some children desire more independence. Tell yours that she can earn the right to monitor her own work after demonstrating success for a few weeks.

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9 Smart Tips for Homework Success

Even children who enjoy doing homework can lose their enthusiasm for it over the course of the school year, and find ways to stall or avoid doing it. But after-school study time is important, both for reinforcing the day’s learning and for lending structure to your child’s day.

“Homework isn’t just about academics,” says Karen Burke, SVP of Data Analysis and Academic Planning, Scholastic Education Solutions. “It can help students create routines and build responsible behaviors.”

Playing cop rarely works — micromanaging and nagging only make kids feel incapable or frustrated. Instead, think of yourself as a coach and cheerleader. 

“Generally, the idea of homework should be to help students set goals, build independence, and practice applying the knowledge they are gaining,” says Burke.

To help you get there, we asked teachers and parents to share their strategies for solving the most common homework struggles. These 10 tips will bring harmony back into your homework routine, whether your child is a kindergartner or 5th grader, perfectionist or procrastinator.

1. Do It Early

Give your child a time frame in which to get down to business. In your household, this may be before or after extracurriculars.

Work with your child to identify the time when their energy and focus are at their peak. This gives your child some control over their schedule. (Some kids need a longer break after school, and others need to start right away to keep the momentum going.) 

However, plan on 5 p.m. being the latest they can start their homework.

2. Phone a Friend

From kindergarten onward, kids should have a list of three or four classmates they can call on when they forget an assignment, or even just to ask a question. Study buddies can provide motivation for each other to get the work done. 

3. Collaborate to Build Confidence

When kids don’t understand a concept right away, they may feel like they’re not smart enough and start to shut down, says Sigrid Grace, a 2nd grade teacher in Michigan. 

Short-circuit negative thinking by sitting down with your child and figuring out the first problem in the assignment together. This should help jog their memory to complete the rest. Then, heap on the praise: “You did a great job on that one! Try the next one now.”

4. Change the Scenery

Sometimes something as simple as changing up their workspace can boost a child’s motivation and, in turn, their confidence. If your child has been working alone at a desk or designated study nook, perhaps they’d be more comfortable doing their homework in a public area, like the kitchen table while you’re preparing dinner. 

Conversely, if they’ve been working in a high-traffic part of the house, they might need a more private space in which to focus. 

5. Keep the Positive Feedback Coming

Younger kids need instant feedback, so it’s okay for parents of young grade-schoolers to correct mistakes, says Grace, the 2nd grade teacher. Follow this up with specific praise about what your child has done well.

6. Leave the Room

“Kids who drag things out are often doing so for your attention — they’re enjoying the interaction on some level,” explains Grace. “Avoid joining in.”

If you must stay in the room, have your child work in a spot that’s farther away from whatever you’re doing.

7. Beat the Clock

Sometimes procrastinators just need a jump-start. If that’s true for your child, try this: 

Set a timer for five minutes and have your child work as quickly and steadily as they can until the timer goes off. At that point, they can choose to take a short break or keep going — many kids continue.

“Racing against a timer gives kids an external sense of urgency if they don’t have an internal one,” says Ann Dolin, a former educator. 

However, a timed work session is not an excuse for sloppy work. Make sure your child reviews theirs before submitting it.

8. Plan, Plan, Plan

To get the most out of your days, include every appointment — from sports practice to meals to reading time — on a big calendar or schedule log and stick it in a central place where every member of the household can see it. 

If you know that certain nights present a conflict with your child’s homework schedule, you can ask for the week’s assignments upfront and work with your child to decide the best times to complete them, says Cathy Vatterott, a professor of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

“Teachers will often work with you on this, but most parents are afraid to ask,” she says.

9. Let ’Em Vent 

If your child is resisting doing their homework — or worse, is tearing up over it in frustration — soothe any pent-up worries by letting them complain. Listen, empathize (“Wow, that is a lot of work”), and state their feelings back to them (“You sound upset”). 

Once your child feels understood, they’ll be more likely to accept your suggestions, says Dolin — and better able to focus on what needs to be done.

You can also help by talking to your child about what they remember from class and steering them to the textbook. If they’re still lost, have them write a note to the teacher explaining that they don’t understand.

Get ready for your child to go back to school with our guide — it's full of recommended books, tips to help if your child is struggling with homework , and more resources for starting the year off right . 

Shop workbooks and learning kits to support good homework habits. You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store .

Sign Up and Get 10% Off Books!

how to get your child to remember their homework


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  1. Why Kids Don't Hand In Homework

    Signs and symptoms. Middle-schoolers and high-schoolers may want to seem cool in front of their friends. To some kids that age, caring about getting their homework done isn’t cool. Some kids might feel like they’re just “not good” at a class or at school in general. Maybe they had a bad experience with an assignment or a teacher in the ...

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    You need to set limits around homework time. Some possibilities that can be effective are: Homework is done at the same place every day. 2. Homework is done at the same time every day. 3. In case of low grades, cut down on screen time or whatever is taking time from studying. 4. Do not begin weekend activities until homework is complete. 5.

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    Create a homework folder. Designate a folder that your child keeps in his binder to help him remember to bring finished homework back to school. Use it as a receptacle for all assignments once they are finished. Give feedback. Correct and return the child’s homework as soon as possible. Corrections should be positive and instructive.

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    > Establish a routine: papers or weekly reports are always sent home on Fridays. > Notify parents that papers will be sent home regularly. Forgets to put his name on papers > Tape a small cue card on his desk that states what to do: 1) write name on paper, 2) turn in homework. > Give the student stick-on name labels.