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Teen Takes Forever with Homework

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: I have a 14-year-old who takes forever to do his homework. Not because it's hard, but because he just won't stay at it. He gets good grades, but only because I'm constantly on him. Every ten minutes, I have to go into his room and tell him to stay on his homework and pick up his pace. Help!

A: Your 14-year-old doesn't have to worry about getting his work done because you are always there, mom! What happens if he doesn't get his work done? He has to take a zero or a failing grade. What would happen if on receiving this zero or a failing grade a few times, you sympathized by saying something like, "Gee I am sorry about that, but when you choose to get your homework done on time, I know you will get a good grade."

I am also betting that by delaying his homework, he gets out of chores or other responsibilities or gets to stay up late. Again, if this is so, he is not taking responsibility -- you are. And you are going to really start resenting him. Set the boundaries. Limit homework time -- two hours is usually plenty at the middle level. Keep a regular schedule. If he can't finish in the time allotted, he must still do his chores and go to bed on time.

Homework is the child's responsibility. He must take the consequences of not finishing it. If you are patient and stick to the schedule and rules you have set up, it will only take a few zeros or late grades to motivate him to finish on time. Another great result: He will feel empowered because he has taken charge of his own learning.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.


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