Mike Mattos

Mike Mattos is an internationally recognized author, presenter, and practitioner who specializes in uniting teachers, administrators, and support staff to transform schools by implementing response to intervention and professional learning communities. He played an integral role in the success of Pioneer Middle School.

When Homework Is Not Being Done at Home

Whenever I present on effective interventions, one of the most common questions I receive is:  “Too many of our students just won’t try . . . how do we motivate them to do their homework?” While there are certainly students at every school that lack the self-responsibility to get their work done, it is misleading and often inaccurate to assume student desire is the primary cause of missing homework.  Before jumping to this conclusion, I recommend a school staff consider the following questions . . .

  • Are you sure our students have learned the skills required to complete the homework? Homework is to reinforce what a child has learned, not to teach the concept.  Students cannot complete what they do not know how to do.  If we have not checked to make sure our students have learned the skills needed to complete their homework, then it is unreasonable and unfair to hold students accountable to do the work.
  • Is the homework truly essential work . . . or busy work? Let’s be honest, there is a lot of homework that really is not tied to essential standards.
  • Does the homework require extra supplies at home? Some students can’t go to the craft store to get supplies.
  • Are there factors outside of school that interfere with a student’s ability to complete their homework? Some students work after school to help their family make ends meet.  Others may go home and serve as the primary caregiver to younger siblings.  Imagine how a student must feel who cooks, cleans, and cares for younger brothers/sisters after school, just to be told by their teacher the next day that they must learn how to work harder and be responsible because they did not do their homework.
  • Are you catching the problem early? When too many assignments are missed before we help, students can dig a hole so deep, it becomes their grave.
  • Finally, have you asked struggling students why the work is not getting done? If students feel you care, more often than not they will honestly tell you why.

In the end, it comes down to this—very few kids want to fail.  If we would start by making sure that our assignments are meaningful work tied to essential standards, and that every student has the skills and materials necessary to do the work, then most kids will do the work. When they don’t, we must remember that missing assignments are not the problem, but a symptom.  We must ask the question, “Why is the student not getting the work done?”  The answer to this question is the key to solving the problem of missing homework.



Homework is a review for what was being taught in class that day. Some of my parents have complained that I give to much homework. What is too much homework? My homework comes from Reading, Math and spelling every week. I agree when you say that homework should not be given for busy work. I don't believe I give to much home if it is to make sure that the student if reviewing everyday, so they will not just be exposed to the material in class. No, all of my students do not do their homework. Like you said, some of them have to go home and be mom and dad to younger siblings. When I ask my students why homework is not done they tell me I don't know. I would love for every parent to support a teacher when giving home. We as teachers want our students to succeed in everything. If we had opportunities to explain to the parents what we are doing in class, we may receive more support with homework at home.

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In my opinion, homework is an essential part of a child's schooling. Homework help bridges the gap between student and parent interaction. Homework is also a way that parents can be involved and monitior what their child is learning. Homework should be completed at home because it allows extra practice. Students should have as much practice as possible because our students are expected to perform at a high level. I have experienced school where homework is not as important, but it was given anyway. The homework did not count a prt of the child's grade, but the teacher did check it in class.

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I am a first and second grade teacher. At the beginning of the school year I made it clear to my parents that homework is not graded but is an opportunity for students to review what was taught in class and reinforce their skills. I don't believe that the homework should be graded as it is not a true reflection of what a the student can accomplish. The reason I say is because some parents complete the homework for the child. They do not attempt to reinforce understanding, but feed the answers to the child. Any homework that is sent home from the class should be something that the student is capable of completing on their own. If it is difficulty completing it, then that is also an indication for me to provide further review for the student(s). I am trying to teach responsibility also for my second grade students as they prepare for the third grade. Because some parents have difficulty understanding the work that is sent home, I feel that the homework should always be a review of the classwork and not something that is graded. The homework is written in the student's agenda, signed by me and is to be returned the following day in the agenda which is to be signed by the parents. I have the usual suspects who do not complete their homework, but there is usually a good return of the homework to class and a good indicator to me of how my students are doing.

I can see that a great deal of work is being done on your part to ensure that the homework is completed, especially for your ELL students. I hope you will be able to come up with another solution in order to alleviate some of this extra work.

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I am a second grade teacher and I run into homework issues as well. In second grade, we are trying to teach students the responsibility component of homework. Can they complete their work and return it on the day it's due? Can they keep in a safe place where it won't get lost or damaged? Really, we are teaching the routine so that as the homework load or difficulty increases, they are prepared. However, as with most teachers, I have a group of students that struggle to return their homework. This year, I have a high ELL population and have found that language is a huge barrier with homework. Students cannot get help from their families because they don't speak English! Although the homework we send home is not at a difficulty level intended for parent support, some of my struggling readers cannot read simple directions. They are capable of completing the content independently, but struggle with understanding what they are being asked to do. On the flip side of that, I have several ELL students who can read the instructions and are perfectly capable, but they have their parents fooled. They are telling their families that they can't read the directions and therefore cannot complete the work; which is entirely untrue. I am conflicted by this predicament and obviously can't translate every piece of homework into three different languages. My solution for now, is I send home two homework packets for those students. One that is review of our content in class and another that is ridiculously easy. I am hoping to find a better solution since I plan on working with a similar student population in the years to come.

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Homework involves the out of classroom activities that are assigned to students by teachers. These activities are usually an extension of concepts taught in schools. Kottler, Zhem and Kottler (2005) posits that learning is a challenging process of discovery that requires little external push, it is a personal quest for new information and experiences.
Homework activities can include practice assignment that emphasizes newly acquired skills. It can also be in the form of groundwork assignments to make students ready for class activities. Projects that have to be worked on in parallel with schoolwork also form a part of homework. Strategic planning by teachers can see projects continuing throughout the term or the entire academic year. In these activities students apply their academic skills to create a piece of work through research.
Participating in homework activities is a necessity for students of this 21st Century learning community. Homework usually serves as a link between the school and home. Teachers need to educate both parents and students of some of the benefits of completing homework assignment. Students may argue that, chores have to be completed first, which are assigned to them by their parents before homework can be done. If these parents are educated about the benefits of homework some of these problems can be eliminated. The motivation that parents offer to their children while doing their home work is a necessity for most students. They often feel loved, knowing that they have the support of their parents. Erwin (2003) maintains that by building relationships based on what is internally motivating students will be more likely to succeed .Sometime this is all that is needed to get homework done. Parent involvement in homework helps to strengthen this link. They become aware of what their child or children is doing in school and might even learn something new in the process.
Homework assists students in becoming self-reliant and independent. They learn to seek solutions to problems on their own without the help of their parents. Reflecting and recalling what was learnt in the classroom lesson and applying it to find solutions is often a eureka moment for the child or children. It gives students a chance to amend their mistakes and improve on their weaknesses. This gives them a sense of accomplishment and helps to boost their confidence. However parents should be there to assist the child if he or she needs help in any way. With homework students develop time management skills, they learn how to manage their time among various subject areas in which homework is given. They learn to allot their time to study and play, thus learning to complete their scheduled task in a timely manner. All of these attributes contributes to being a rounded adult for the future.
Teachers on the other hand need to encourage and motivate students. They need to focus homework task assigned on the concepts being taught or to be taught in class. It is imperative that teachers explain to students what is the purpose of the homework, procedures to be followed and the resources required for its completion. This will provide clear understanding of the task(s) required and further heightened students’ interest. Kottler, Kottler and Zehm (2005) expressed that although we cannot always make all aspects of schooling relevant to students we can make their learning more relevant to their lives.
In an environment where collaboration among teachers, parents and students are being fostered then homework can be successfully completed at home.

Kottler, J. A., Zehm, S. J., & Kottler, E. (2005). On being a teacher: The human dimension (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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Homework is a problem at our school also. The students don't see the use of it and many don't do it. Also many parents who work outside the home do not monitor whether the student has any homework or has completed any that they might have. The often heard response has been, "It's not my job. It's the school's job." As a consequence, the students who get behind, fall further behind.
As a result of the lack of work being done, the school has implemented an after school study hall. The school pays people to stay after and help students do work that should either be done at home or during the study hall during school.
Our school is on a "needs improvement" school due to low test scores and a higher than average drop-out race. The plan is that homework that is assigned is necessary work and not busy work.

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For the first time this year, my middle school has a technology integration specialist who keeps everyone abreast of what is new in the world of technology and how it can be used in the classroom. Just recently, all teachers were assigned the task of joining Tweeter to assist us with engaging with others about best practices in education.He brought to us the idae of seeking solutions from other educators about questions, concerns and difficulties we may be experiencing in the classroom overall, schoolwide and with individual students. The first article that I see is the homework article and the plan to assist students with getting "it" done and developing a sense of accountability and improvement while they learn the practice of doing their homework.My eyes lit up and I hungrily read through the very detailed outline on how this can be accomplished.I can't wait to bring it to my colleagues and administrators for their feedback on this plan. This is an amazing plan and the results and the goals achieved are definitely rewarding for the students and the school.

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I am facing a similar issue at my school. Credit is given for homework as long as it is complete. I have parents who will do the homework for their children just to say it is done. The students don't take the homework seriously because their parents don't. I have even had to go to the extreme of having my students do the homework in class, but this takes away from much needed classroom instruction.

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I am a 4th grade teacher, and I think homework is very important to give the students. If teachers arent going to grade or check homework, then why give it?
Homework should be given to reinforce the skills of the day. It is hard for my students at times because if they do not understand the work in class, they do not know what to do at home. I Definitely agree that parents have to be there for thier children at home. Parental guidance is important. Their children may need help and mom and dad are not always thier for them.
In some situations parents cant even help thier child because of ESL learners or simply because they do not know the material to help thier child. For example, I am currently teaching multiplication 2 digit by 2 digit and showing students a new way to multiply using the "Lattice Method" I had many parents telling me "my child taught my how use the lattice method to multiply".
I also feel homework should not be given on friday for the weekend. My students work so hard and do so much that I give them a little break for family time on the weekend.

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My understanding of homework is that is can be helpful is students view it as meaningful. If homework is truly being used to reinforce what is learned at school and students can make that connection, than this helps homework to be meaningful. I view homework as an assignment that should be completed with guidance, but if guidance is not available the skills being practiced should be attainable for the student to complete independently. Keeping track of homework is also important. I check for homework first thing in the morning. Right away I know who is missing work. Generally it is the same student(s). Having a conversation with the student is valuable and offers insight into why homework may be missing. A simple excuse of I forgot, or I lost it never flies. If this is the case, it's going to be done during recess. As for assigning homework as busy work...whats the point? Then it just become busy work for the teacher, and what teacher has time for meaningless work? I say teach good homework habits to avoid missing homework assignments.

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We must find a way to make sure that homework is accounted for. In my county, homework is not graded in the Primary level which makes it difficult to hold the students accountable. We do what we can at school, but it doesn't always make a difference. Having parental support is the key but sometimes that doesn't happen. Trying to get both students and parents to understand that it is practice of skills taught can sometimes be difficult. I couldn't agree more that something must be done.

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Mike Mattos

I had to double-check with Merriam-Webster after reading your comments just to make sure I was not mistaken in the meaning of the word “diatribe” you chose to describe my words. “A bitter and abusive speech or piece of writing” is far from what I intended in offering advice about examining our homework practices. And I say “our” because I consider myself one of those very same educators you claim I use “hate-bating” rhetoric against. I have been a public educator for 25 years, with 15 years in the classroom. Most of the people closest to me (including my wife) are teachers for whom I have the utmost respect. I support and honor educators, but that does not mean I am unwilling to look closely at our practices and examine how we can improve our efforts to serve students. We do not promote our profession by calling “foul” whenever faced with criticism. Improvement in any line of work calls for taking an honest look at our current reality.

You say that you do not give homework that is not tied to essential standards and I have no reason to doubt you on that; however, one only needs to look at the “myersmoreland” post of November 17 to see that your experience does not represent the whole of the profession. In examining my own teaching practices of the past, could I list some homework I assigned that was not essential? Did I sometimes fail to check for understanding before assigning the work? Did I assign homework that required parents to buy materials to complete the assignment? YES! And in almost every case, I assumed that students missing the homework the next day had lacked the motivation to do the work, while rarely considering if there were things I was doing that worked against my desired goal of student success in my class.

The intent of my original post was to share some practical ideas that schools can do to improve student homework completion. My suggestions are all things that we can control and that can have a profound influence on student motivation and success. They are also practices that are proven to work, and are being implemented at some of the most successful schools in our nation.

Believe me, I am all for the teaching profession. In this nation, schools are our best hope for the future, and it would be unimaginable to consider where we would be without them. Yet, if we want to improve what we do for students, it comes down to this: Will we have the courage to look inwardly and take responsibility for the things we can control? If a school staff would make a commitment to ensure that homework assignments are meaningful work, and that students have the skills, knowledge, and materials needed to complete the assignments, I am confident a vast majority of students will give the effort needed to succeed. Unfortunately, some educators seem unwilling to even have the conversation, let alone make such a commitment.

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This has been an issue causing discourse in our school. I teach fifth grade, and I believe in the necessity of giving homework. I agree that some homework is mindless and meant to fill time. It is essential for homework to be based solely on the standards. Teachers at my school do love to pile up homework on students, and they try to use it as a punishment at times for bad bahavior. I couldn't disagree more with that. Homework is for extra practice over the skills already learned in class. It should be a review of things already done or learned. Also, my county has a policy that homework cannot be graded. The problem with this is that there is no way to enforce homework completion. We take recess and things of this nature, but that has little effect. Homework should be given with tools to complete it. I agree that it is an issue, but we must find a way to give it and get it completed.

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Yet another diatribe pitted against the teaching profession. Is this where we are in educational discourse, folks? When I read, "Let’s be honest, there is a lot of homework that really is not tied to essential standards," it sends a red flag. Honestly, it's demeaning to make a comment like this. Honestly, I don't give homework that is not tied to essential standards. Honestly, we need to move beyond this simplistic, hate-bating rhetoric and start speaking on the real issues of teacher disenfranchisement, whom by the way, serve students (just in case there is a rabid conservative out there to label me a self-interested, tenured, union, loving socialist, drinking my Scotch in Cancun during my summer breaks.)

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We have seen much better outcomes in completed homework. Students like choosing what they get to do, and the skills are still getting reinforced no matter what they choose.

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It's important engaging the community and implementing programs that will promote more student-parent interaction at home. Also, providing strategies that will make the homework experience more enjoyable. I find quite a few parents that struggle with patience while helping their children with homework. This issue can be resolved if they are provided with a little assistance from educators. I invite my parents to school every week to talk about home activities that will make the learning experience more enjoyable for their children. So far this strategy is woking.

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Scott A. Cunningham

A great system that we have been using the past five years at Norton Middle School is an intervention we call "Academic Lunch". If a student is missing any assignment, homework or class work they are given a small form to fill with the following information: Name, Date, Lunch period, and missing assignment. This form is given to a secretary who adds the assignment to an excel spread sheet that we post on our school drive for teachers to access the information. If students don't finish the work by lunch the next day they meet with our counselor or an administrator during their lunch until their work is complete. As soon as they finish, they can go back to lunch. Most students finish before lunch. This serves several purposes.
1. I can see the type and quality of the work being assigned and also the quality of work the students are returning.
2. This stops zeros because students will finish their work, we hold students accountable to finish the work that has been assigned to them. We do not enable students by giving them zero's. We allow them the time they need to finish assignments.
3. We start to see the frequent flyers and work to provide more interventions for the students needing extra help.
4. This system will dramatically reduce failure rates, because students finish their assignments. Most kids fail because they didn't do their work, not because they can't do the work.

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I too agree. I teach in an urban school district and students not completing homework is all to often. One problem that I see is that there is no "partnership" with parents. Parents have to be in collaboration with teachers and they must "buy-in" to the homework policy, the importance of doing homework, and finally the expectations for completing homework.

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Homework is very inportant. I implement homework as an expectation so the students will know how important homework is.

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I feel that homework is a very important task for the student. It should be given at least 4 times a week, it increases their study skills. Homework allows them to utilize other resources, after school programs, parents and other family members. In order to master a skill additional study time is needed outside of school. It takes a village to raise a child and the stakeholders are parents, teachers and others.

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As a student I never saw the importance of homework. However, now as an educator, homework is key in order to truly master a concept or know the information that was taught early that day. I believe homework is very benefical in the success of all students and it only helps them further understand the material. I do not believe all homework is busy work. I know I never give my students work that is only going to "eat" up their time. I make sure and give them work that will help them master the skills we are learning in school. I have always believed the more you practice something, the better you will get at it. If students do the homework when it is assigned and truly try their best on it then their hard work will pay off because they will start to understand the information presented to them. I know my students will be able to complete the homework on their own because I will prepare them in school. We will make sure and do something that correlates with the homework so they feel ready when they conquer their homework assignment at home!

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I believe that doing home work is very important in providing practice on concepts that were taught. I must agree that if students do not grasp the concept that was taught they should not be given homework on the concept. There are times when teachers expect that parents should help students do the homework but on several occassions the parents do not know what to do. There are times however when there a students who are able to do homework but do not do it because they are not properly supervised at home. Teachers should know their student and assign task based on their individual abilities and situations.

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I agree that you have to consider that there may be other reasons that homework is not getting done. I had an experience at school once where an entire class failed to complete their homework. When I asked, I found out that they did not know how to complete the first problem and they gave up. That made me think about my strategies and now I always think before assigning homework whether or not the students have understood the material. Where homework used to be a mandatory thing every day, now if a lesson does not go well and it is clear that a majority of students need reinforcement from me, I do not give homework at all.

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As a teacher, I believe that homework is essential for a couple of reasons A) it gives the students practice with concepts learned at school; B) homework allows parents/caregivers a glance into what the students are learning in school; and C) homework offers the students who receive help an opportunity to relearn the skill from another viewpoint. Homework is a valuable tool when it is used correctly as practice and not as traditional aspect of school. As a parent, I see first-hand how homework interferes with home life. My daughter NEVER does homework at HOME unless its a project. We have to do it before she gets home, or it will not get done. Our time at home is spent relaxing with the family, running errands, or after-school activities. We do take time to STUDY concepts, which I feel is a lost art and should be the purpose of homework.

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I agree with the earlier posts. Homework must cover material that has already been taught in the classroom. The skills to work on at home need to serve as a way to strengthen what the students are learning. When students are going to after school tutoring to complete homework, I would hope that the homework is meaningful and for a grade. My daughter’s teacher sends home math homework each night in order for me to review with my daughter what she learned during the day. I think this is a great way to reinforce the skills. As a teacher, I definitely need parents to be “on board” when it comes to homework. My hope is that parents are reviewing the homework with their child. This not only helps their child learn, but also helps the parent stay connected to what is going on in their child’s classroom.

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I am making the transition into middle school. Last year I taught 5th grade and revised my homework policy. No homework = no reward. Students were not punished for not turning in homework, but they didn't get the reward (tickets, extra recess, trip to the prize box). This worked quite well. In 5th grade, homework was counted as either Outstanding/Satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Now in middle school, homework is part of the overall grade. I've made my homework count for as little as I could (10%), and then students are able to turn in homework up to 1 week late. It's also a Done, Incomplete, Not Done - this way I don't have to grade anything. I know that my students don't have the resources at home to get homework help with 6th grade math. I also know that my kids have family responsibilities, and that affects their homework. I let students come in and get help in the morning and after school to get work done in a quiet place. So far, it's working well.

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Since the beginning of the school year my students understood how important homework is. I explained to them and their parents during our Back to School Night that it was a reinforcement of lessons learned for that particular day. Their support was needed in order for their child to be successful in my class. So far I have had 1 child not turn in homework. The support of the parents is crucial when it come to homework.

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I agree with you. Homework should be addressed at the beginning of the year. By this, students will know their expectations for completing homework assignments and also know their consequences for not completing their homework. At my school every teacher is expected to give out homework. Also, we have several after-school tutoring programs for our students. The students that are involved in any afterschool activity, (Band, Choir, football,basketball),they have to be sign up for tutoring and go before they go to practice. While these students are in tutoring homework must be completed and checked by their tutors.

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Currently I work in a low socioeconomic school district, where homework is the last thing on our students’ minds. As educators, I believe we can find creative, exciting, and informative ways to meet the needs of our diverse students. Communicating with other professionals in a professional community such as this, can prove to helpful to teachers and students alike.

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I'm not very hard on kids who don't get their homework done. I do require it, or an alternative assignment, to be done because I do value it. I send the work home every Friday, and the kids turn it in on Friday. My homework is more a study guide for the tests than anything else, and it gives parents insight into what we're doing. I have a website where I scan the internet to help me find videos to help students with their home work if they are truly struggling. I give them my phone number and tell them to call any time they need help. The kids work their bums off to get their work done, and sometimes will stay in at recess if something came up and they weren't able to finish . I'll also be honest, I check the work, but I don't grade the work. If I see effort and thought put into my weekly homework packets, I give an "A." Homework is only about 5% of my quarterly grades.

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This is a subject my team members and I have been discussing a lot lately. I work at a very low socioeconomic status school, and as someone already mentioned, many of our students do not complete homework. Because of the community, many of the parents are not available or do not care enough to contribute to their child's learning by helping with homework. This original post made me question other factors that may be involved with homework not being completed. For example, do the students not have the skills they need to complete the homework independently? Is there something else I should be doing to help my students be more prepared for their homework? If they are more prepared, will they be more likely to do their homework? Although I do not know the answers to these questions, I can at least attempt to try different strategies that may help my students complete more homework. I especially like the strategy mentioned by grusso. Perhaps, I will attempt to let some of my students begin to do their homework in class. That way, they can at least ask me questions to assist them.

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I used to have a principal that made us give homework every night. I work at a very low socioeconomic school and very few of my kids would do it. We now have a new principal and there are no rules on how much homework we should give out. I don't like giving a lot of homework. When I do, I check to see who gets the concept by using clickers the next day for the students warm up and ask questions that are similar to what was on the homework. I immediately get feed back and I can sign students up for tutoring that do not "get" a concept. Plus homework just means more papers to grade.

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I couldn't agree more with "fieldk." Homework is a team effort between parent and child. Teachers in my district hold a "curriculum night" at the beg. of the school year to discuss with parents the expectations regarding homework, tests, assignemnts, classroom behavior/participation etc., This is a crucial and important night to the success of a students school year. However, the sad truth of life is that many students do not have two parents at home every night to assist with homework. I feel it would be a good idea for schools to offer an after school or before school program where students can come for additional help / tutoring or to recieve help with completing homework assignments. Also, teachers shouldn't be so rigid in placing many high demands on completing homework on time and turing in each morning, with severe consequences for not doing so. I realize this is important in teaching responsiblity but how much of homework is really busy work anyway?? How often are students just racing to finish their homework so they can go play outside or with a friend. How much are students really gaining from homework?? Teachers should allow students who come from a challening family life to complete homwork in the classroom if at all possible. Thank you.

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I don't like to give a lot of homework. My reason is that some students do the homework and others do not. Another reason is some students get help with their homework, while other students do not have anyone to assist them. Lastly, I do not know if the students had someone do it or if they actually did it by themselves. I just want my students to attempt to try. This year my admisnistrator decided that we have to give it at least three days a week. I do not want to give homework just to be given to the students. If I give homework, I want it to be meaningful. He doesn't feel that studying is homework. Sometimes, I find myself just given homework, so I will be in compliance with our new mandated homework policy.

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FIrst and foremost, completing homework must be a community effort. Teachers need to have expectations laid out at the beginning of the year and parents have to be on board with them. I also believe there should be outside resources available for students to be able to complete any work they may have before they go home. The local recreational centers have after-school programs, tutoring is available at many schools before school, and most sport teams (that I know of in my school's area) have study hall programs where student athletes not only have time to complete homework but teachers or tutors to help. I also believe homework should be given in a different manner. Something as simple as giving them a challenge rather than set number of problems to finish might help.

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This is of particular interest to me because last year I had a student whose mother worked at night and he was supervised by a teenage sibling. A lot of times he would tell me that he forgot his homework at home or his mother done it when he got home. I knew he was not doing his own work because the difference in handwriting. After this happened a few times I asked him if he understood what needed to be done and he said no. As a result of this I started an after school homework club for my students to assist them by reviewing any concepts that were misunderstood and to help build confidence in themselves.

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I agree with the comments regarding the many students who do not complete homework and taking the time to view the bigger picture as to why it was not completed. As a teacher and mother of three I have often found myself on the fence wondering if giving homework is worthwhile and struggling with it at night with my tired child is beneficial.

As a teacher, my intentions are always honorable in providing students with extra reinforcement of the daily lesson; yet listening to the horrendous excuses given by students as to why it is not completed often make me take a back sit and question the importance of actually assigning the homework in the first place and the hassle of collecting an assignment from each student.

In the beginning of my teaching experience I was very forceful in making sure students did nightly assignments and if they did not recess was immediately taken from the student; yet how many times can a teacher effectively sit a student out of recess? As a teacher am I really punishing the student or myself when they return to the classroom more energetic than ever for a lack of exercise, not to mention the phone calls from parents because Johnny did not get to play. Some how the fact that Johnny didn’t complete is homework is incidental.

After years of experience, I am able to see beyond the fact that the student did not complete his homework, but question why and what could have been done to make the task a little easier for the student to finish and return the task. As a teacher I want to create an independent learner who enjoys the learning process. It is with this in mind that I encourage students to always complete their homework, yet I have also established an opportunity during the onset of the school day for students to complete any homework that they have “forgotten” , while I take the opportunity to work with students who need reinforcement in specific areas. In doing so, life in the classroom has been less stressful for students and myself.

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There were some great points made in the post. I teach elementary school and have to think about the students and if they have any home support to encourage homework and/or support the students with completing their work. Though I do feel that some homework is needed to give the student some practice of the concepts they are learn along with learning how to be responsible. There is a point where giving homework just to give the students something to do is not needed. I give my students a few nights to complete homework assignments because I have to remember that they have many other activities outside of school each night. I think it is important to think about giving homework that is beneficial to the students!

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My district requires homework to be assigned. However, I don't put much into it. I assign homework on Monday and it is due on Friday. (I teach second grade.) The students are assigned word work for spelling, read independently for 15 minutes, and a math sheet daily. One reason that I am not a big fan of homework is because in many situations, or at least in my room, the PARENTS do the work!!! I just don't feel it is fair to give credit to a student who did not do the work himself and give equal credit to the child who struggled to complete all of the work himself. While I believe homework should be meaningful and allow the child to practice what is being taught in the classroom, it is just too hard to monitor who is actually doing the work.

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That is amazing to have such a great group of parents and parents who are willing to help other students. Sometime it does take a community to raise a child.

I really like your idea of giving student choices, I have used that method as well and it works wonders when students get to choice what to do.

I have noticed a better turn out for homework when students get to choose their work compared to when there is no choice.

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I believe extremely valid points are raised in this posting regarding the necessity of homework. Recently, my district held a required viewing of Vicki Abeles' documentary "Race to Nowhere" for all district teachers. The documentary provided research showing no significant gains in student progress when giving daily homework (especially in the primary grades). Today's students are so over scheduled between academics, extracurricular activities, etc. This leads to excessively tired students, who struggle to focus in the classroom. Essential family time is being lost, while we treat students like miniature adults without taking into account the needs of a child to have fun while learning and explore through project based learning. Instead, we're constantly striving to meet society's standards and prepare for work or the next level of schooling. The question posed regarding if homework is essential work is an important factor I believe teachers should take into account prior to assigning homework.

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I remember my mother telling me that her father would not allow homework for his children because they had "home" work. Of course, this was 60 years ago and they were a farm family with many chores and tasks to complete there. I do think we have many families that still have this philosophy because two parents are working.
I think homework, 10 minutes per grade level, is something that makes kids responsible. Just as we have the job to educate, homework is sort of their job. However, I have many children who are just trying to survive in a household and homework is the least of their problems. I like the approach where you sit down and talk to them so they let you know how much they can get done. I even have a time set aside for students who want to do a working breakfast or lunch and get some of their work caught up or offer them a quiet area during their library times. Sometimes, kids realize that they can accomplish great learning at those times. They are safer and have made the decision that they can accomplish things if they put their minds to it. Those are the kids that learn to survive despite their environment.

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When I see that a student has not completed an assignment I often feel annoyed because of the amount of work that I put into things for my students. Knowing that I am creating work to help them gain the necessary skills to be successful in my classroom. I create activities that have a point, a purpose. However, teaching 7th grade they often do not see the importance because they want to check out the second they walk out of the classroom. But after looking deeper into reasons why students do not complete assignments can be much more meaningful to my classroom and their success than an enrichment activity. Having relationships and connections with students to know what they are feeling and dealing with at home can have a much more lasting effect on their progress in school. Going back to the simple idea of...know your student, know their challenges at home, make a connection, and they will want to be successful for you!

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I am at a fairly successful school district. Our success rate for student completing homework is fairly high. On the flip side though, the students who do miss home work, miss a ton of it. These are also the students who dont recieve support from home, are afraid to stay after, and will possibly never be able to catch up. I was often unsure of how to handle this situation. A phone call home would only go so far due to the lck of support, and having them stay after can be very overwhelming for them. After going to a few workshops this summer and discussing with teachers, I learned a great technique. By sitting down with the student and asking them what they can complete and by when, you give them the control with out feeling over the top. I have used this technique and I have seen great results. Students are turning in homework with great effort as well. I do mark them for being late, but they understand that, and they also feel a sense of pride for finishing the work and getting caught up.

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As stated above, homework is a tool to reinforce skills taught in the classroom. However, as a child I remember struggling over homework for hours because I didn't "get it." On top of not understanding, I was often tired from extracurricular activities, so homework was the last thing I wanted to do at night.

My grade level works very closely together, and we came up with a way to give homework that gives students choices. This has worked very well for our students. There are options to reinforce and to enrich the skills taught in the classroom. The students are given a homework grid at the beginning of the week. There are three columns, language, spelling, and math. Reading is expected each night, and parents are to sign showing their child has read with them. Students choose one activity from each column and attach their work, then turn in on Friday. Giving the children choices allows them to take ownership in their work, and requiring it to be turned in on Friday allows children to have time for other activities.
Fortunately, I have very involved parents, but there are a few students who do not get the support at home. For these students, I have a parent volunteer who assists with homework activities while they students are at school.
Students' grade should not reflect lack of parent support.

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Not completing homework has been a problem in my classroom since the start of this school year. I teach fourth grade and my students tend to have nightly spelling, reading, math, and writing homework. However, when I go around to check to see if their homework has been completed, I often find nothing on their desk and an excuse for why it is not done.

The homework that is assigned is not hard to do. For the most part they are practicing their weekly spelling words by doing an activity, reading independently and then responding to what was read in a journal, studying weekly vocabulary words, and then completing one math assignment to go along with the lesson taught, and writing practice. I co-teach with another teacher and the homework that we assign is consistent and should not take students more than a hour to complete. However, we are having students not completing their homework and parents saying that their child spends a lot more than an hour on homework.

Part of the problem could be that the students have not completely mastered the topics in math. As with most curriculum maps or plans, we are advised to stick with what the district has mapped out for us. Another possibility is that the student is not paying attention during class and is not able to complete the work because they were not following along.

At some point I do think that students need to be held accountable. The reason homework is assigned is because teachers cannot cover everything that needs to be done in a day, and in order for students to retain information it has to be practiced. I also believe that homework is part of a student's "job." We are preparing our students to be responsible citizens that are productive members of society. If they do not complete what is asked and expected of them, there are consequences, just as with any job that an adult would have.

I provide incentives for my students that complete their nigthly homework. Students are given a raffle ticket and they put their name on the back. Every other week we do the ticket drawing and students can use their tickets to "purchase" prizes from the goodie box.

I do not grade homework because at the school in which I work, this is not allowed. However, as my students get older and move into middle school, completed homework is an expectation and the students' grades will be lowered if homework is not done.

I do not know what the solution is to homework not being completed. Many times my students tell me that they got home late or they had to go somewhere with their parents. Other times they say that they forgot it at home. Either way my teacher partner and I make it a point to write it in the student's planner when homework is not done. If anything, we do this to let the parents know what we see in the classroom since the student is the only one that goes home and comes to school every day.

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Personally, I don't give that much homework. When I do, it is usually to finish something that was not finished in class. However, it is always after the subject has been taught. Occasionally, I will give homework for new material, but it is something on the order of vocabulary. Many of my students do hold jobs, whether it be paid or taking care of siblings. I have many students that are in sports, which takes a lot of their time.

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In my elementary career, homework was given every night. We received homework even if we did not understand the content completely. For me, homework was practice for me to try to understand the content. Then the culture was if the student did not understand at school then the parent would help try to ensure their child had a better understanding for the next day of school. Now as a teacher, I do not assign homework on a new skill if they do not understand. I used to believe that practice makes perfect but if the students are doing their homework incorrectly then you are making the incorrect practice permanent.

There are a number of factors to why students are not completing homework assignments. I have been at the same school for four years. The excuses are always similar. I hear that their parents could not help them because of work or simply do not understand themselves. After school activities such as football and basketball practice are reason students get home late and parents are concerned with their children going to bed too late.

Students have to be taught to be independent thinkers and doers. I make my students responsible for their homework. My students are learning how to be accountable as well as reinforcing what I taught.

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I face the same problem with my students. I too try to understand why the students isn't getting the homework done. If it is because they don't understand, I take the time to assist. If it is that they have activities afterschool, I assign homework on other days. I also go over the homework and get the students to complete the first one before leaving the class to be sure they know how to do it independently. I remind my students that they don't have to wait for their parent to tell them to do their homework because they know how to do it. They feel empowered when they are able to work independently. I also agree with the first statement that children ordinarily don't want to not do their homework. There is usually a reason why and we need to find the reason so that we can work out a solution.

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When Homework is Not Being Done At Home

I am a new teacher in my school district and I am finding that students many times are struggling to finish homework at home. This as a new educator worries me because as soon as the bell rings at 3pm, students have to learn to be independent learners. I however think there are many problems that may be surfacing that lead to homework being undone. The biggest problem that I believe occurs is the lack of emphasis from parents for their child to finish their homework. I think now in the world where both parents are working outside the home, many times parents come home tired and ready to relax. Many times they may forget to check their child's homework and with the technology age now upon us, that may intertwine as a problem.

I think with problems such as technology take-over in homes and lack of parent involvement, it is SO important that us as teachers emphasize and rewards those children who do, do their homework. In the video, "Introduction to Professional Learning Communities", the author talks about teaching being an act. (Laureate Education Inc, 2010). I agree with this statement that teaching is an act of kindness. I believe if a teacher is having a problem with a child not doing their homework, they need to come home come to a solution to help fix it. Maybe reward the child with an incentive, or create some importance with the child to complete that homework.

I look forward to seeing most posts about this problem so that we as educators, love ones, and parents can come up with solutions. I think homework is so important in helping a child really understand and grasp what they are learning in their classroom each day.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Introduction to Professional Learning Communities [Video webcast]. In Teacher as professional.

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I agree with this. Over the past few years, I've really thought about my homework, what it was, and the purpose of it. I like homework because it gives the student a chance to review and practice what was learned in class. However, some teachers give way too much homework! When teachers give so much homework, that's another reason why the student does not want to complete it.

Since I teach first grade, I usually have the students read a short story or poem, do a short activity with their high frequency words, and a brief math review. In the past five years that I've been teaching, I have never had a student complain about it being too much to do. I have also surveyed parents to find out if they think it is too much, and they've said their child can usually complete it all in about 30 minutes.

I have had a few instances with students not doing their homework. I've asked the students as suggested above, and usually their excuses are "because my mama/daddy had something to do so I didn't get home until late." I usually just let these students complete their homework first thing in the morning before we start our daily activities.

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