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Homework Headache

teacher_experts.gifQUESTION:

My 12-year-old son doesn't hand in his homework. He doesn't do all of it and when I try to help him he gets angry and throws a fit. He also tunes his teachers and parents out when we try to talk to him about this problem. What is going on?

ANSWER:

You need to schedule a conference with your son's teacher immediately to find out what is causing your son to be so reluctant to complete or hand in his homework. It could be a learning problem, an attitude problem, a study skills problem, or a combination of several of these problems. Once you have defined the problem, you will be able to work with the teacher and your son in finding a solution.

In any case, homework hassles between parents and children are totally nonproductive. What you need to do is foster an attitude of cooperation. Your son will study more willingly if he helps make the rules. Compromise can work wonders. If he wants to study with music, you can insist on no phone calls or interruptions.

We suggest that you negotiate a homework contract with your son. Many families have used these contracts to end nightly homework battles. Introduce the concept of a contract to your son as a way of putting him in charge of his homework. The contract should be quite simple just spelling out when, where, and how long your child will study although other terms could be included. A child his age should have approximately 50 to 60 minutes of homework each evening. To ensure that the contract works, it can be quite helpful to include a clause on penalties and/or rewards based on how well your son is complying with the contract.

You need to back away from the homework issue. Don't offer to help your son, wait to be asked. Don't remind him to do his homework, expect him to take this responsibility or suffer the consequences at school. After working with your son to plan a new homework routine, you will need to be patient. It takes time for changes to take root.

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