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Guest blogger Sarah: No matter WHAT I do, my son (age 11) always forgets his homework from school. This happens at least twice a week. I have tried talking to his teacher about it, but she says at his age, he should be responsible enough to remember to put his homework in his backpack. She doesn't have much sympathy for our situation.

school desk

When he forgets the homework, I am left scrambling -- calling other moms of students in the class to see if they can read me the assignment over the phone. And even when my son remembers to bring the assignment home, he often forgets his school books -- so we have nothing to reference. It is beyond frustrating.

I have tried rewarding him when he remembers his homework and punishing him when he forgets, but nothing has worked. This has been a problem on and off for years, but has gotten worse since he hit fifth grade.

I don't want my kid to get bad grades, but I do want him to feel the ramifications of his behavior.

Moms, what would YOU do if you were in my shoes? How would you help your forgetful child remember his homework?

next: Maybe Your Teen Really Can't Hear You
63 comments so far | Post a comment now
CC September 3, 2010, 8:52 AM

Do you pick him up from school? If so, maybe you can check his backpack before driving away to make sure he has what he needs. Have the teacher sign his planner so you’ll know what the assignment requires.

If you don’t pick him up in person, does he have an emergency cell phone? Maybe you need to call him before he gets on the bus/starts walking home every day to make sure he doesn’t forget anything. You could also have him leave some of his books at home. A lot of teachers have a classroom set of books, so that he won’t be missing a textbook at home when he needs to do homework.

As a last resort, just make him bring home all of his books every day. Once he gets tired of lugging all of them around, maybe he’ll remember to bring the right ones home!

Anonymous September 3, 2010, 9:06 AM

It’s too bad the teacher is unsympathetic. Kids’ organizational abilities mature at different rates. Some kids need more support than others. You may want to talk to her more or consider talking to a counselor or principal.

Keeping books at home can help. I’ve know parents who bought a second set.

An agenda or assignment book can help. That way he writes the homework in the same place every day and won’t forget the assignment. I know 5th grade teachers who initial the assignment book every day to make sure the kids are writing down the assignments.

Another thing he can do is get a homework buddy. Your son could call his buddy himself when he forgets the homework.

Kelly September 3, 2010, 9:19 AM

My oldest is 11 and is in 6th grade, and we had the same problem with him last year. He was introduced to lockers, and changing classes, and had to think ahead to bring what he needs to class and what he needs home. Needless to say, it didn’t work. I talked with his teacher, and she was also unsympathetic. We helped with tips about organization, he did use a planner that he wrote his assignments in, I’d have HIM doublecheck before we drove home, he still messed up sometimes, so he got the bad grade and lost priveleges at school. Long story short, he lost tv, gaming, phone and computer priveleges and had to bring all books home everynight. That took about a week and he figured out he needs to work on responsibility, with responsibility comes priveleges……..and you don’t have to carry 2 backpacks full of heavy stuff everyday!!haha Every kid is different, but in the long run, tough love worked for us.

Karen September 4, 2010, 8:24 AM

Just expanding my reply to this tweet. Assignment notebooks help. My son is a 1st grader and just like a lot of kids, he tends to forget homeworks sometimes. It is so much help that the teachers write homeworks on the board and let the kids copy. They sign the notebooks before dismissal to make sure that everyone did their part. So all I do when my son comes home is check the notebook, the teachers also require us parents to countersign.

XXXX September 4, 2010, 5:56 PM

Nag him!

erin September 4, 2010, 6:29 PM

have you had him tested for ADHD? I had the exactly same problems when i was his age and for about as long as i can remember. It may not be that hes just “irresponsible” Sometimes ADHD goes undiagnosed until adulthood especially if the child doesnt have the hyperactivity component. I would look into it because I’m now 22 and it went undiagnosed until a few months ago and things are much more difficuly for me because of it

adrian September 5, 2010, 2:52 PM

woah I’d hate to be a child of anyone here, possible ADHD diagnosis, nagging, stalking, taking everything your child owns all horrible suggestions, particularly to someone you love

have you considered that your child has associated homework with pressure from you and now hates homework

sounds crazy I know, but maybe you can take the time to help him with his homework and try your best to make it fun for him, if you put too much pressure on him and he starts to hate learning you’ll have a serious problem if you want your child to do well.

so try your best to make it a time for both of you where you enjoy it without coercing him into it, if you can learn something when helping with homework make sure your son sees you are learning too and that everyone is learning no matter what age

It’s easy to shout at your child until they do what they are told but it takes hard work to properly support your son

XXXX September 5, 2010, 3:55 PM

Kids need to be nagged!

RasJacobson September 5, 2010, 5:58 PM

Hi! I’ve written extensively about this on my own bloggie. You have to stop scrambling and let him sink his own ship. You have to let him fail.

By running around saving him, calling other parent, YOU are doing what HE is supposed to do.

Let him see what it feels like to get a few bad grades. Perhaps even a bad report card. (Note: In the meantime, you will have to breathe a lot. Go to yoga. Get massages and pedicures and try to relax. But when the report card comes, it is the penultimate teachable moment. Because there will be consequences. Assuming he understands that it is is JOB to do well in school, he will have to have consequences. I’ll let you figure out your own logical consequences. For me, they would involve eliminating all screens - iTouches, computers, televisions, etc. until grades are brought up.

There is, of course, more to say on the subject — but by 11, kids should be able to independently do their work without mommy. Does he have a place to go and complete his work? Is there a routine in place? Like, after a snack, he goes and does his homework before anything else. Before sports or TV or games? If the answer to these questions is yes, yes and yes … well you may have to try to understand WHY he is trying to sink his own ship. Maybe he likes the negative attention.

Best of luck to you. I do know that not every kid is as easy as mine when it comes to homework completion, but I can tell you as an educator and a parent, homework shouldn’t be that big of a struggle!

Stacey September 14, 2010, 12:47 PM

I have to say, that I struggle with this too daily. My child started 4th grade this year. We have been in school for 2 weeks. Her teacher at my request has moved her to the front of the classroom. She is slower that all of the other kids, takes a lot longer to do things and cannot focus for more than a couple of minutes. She is not hyper and can sit still’s just about focus and yes… the majority of the time she doesn’t know where to find the necessary tools to complete her homework. She often forgets her math book (they have 2) I am at my wits end, I’ve tried taking things away, TV, DS, computer, I’ve even tried setting up a rewards system. NONE OF IT WORKS, well at least not for me. If she forgets she knows she has to face to consequence of a homework slip, and the thing is, she is not defiant. She forgets or cannot concentrate…she’s very smart. I have to say, the earlier the better. If the teacher won’t help, (thankfully mine is!) go to the principal, and up the chain. Don’t accept that the teacher is unsympathetic! Someone has to turn your kid around..hopefully it starts with parent/teacher communication and coming up with a plan. God bless any parent who really cares about their child and who is actively going through this. This is tough…I never realized being an engaged parent was so rough.

Connie September 19, 2010, 8:52 AM

I am experiencing the same with my 4th grader. I work full time so the daycare drops him off and picks him up for me. He is getting terrible grades. I have helped him with all of him missing assignments but he didn’t turn them in. Now I have a note from the teacher I have to sign and return acknowldeging how bad he is doing. I want to cry. I ask him everyday about homework. I sit with him while he does it. I don’t know what else to do. Please give me some advice. I’m over the guilt about working. I don’t have a choice. Please, please help me.

Dennis  September 23, 2010, 3:28 AM

I suggest to go for assignment help which helps them to reduce their works.

Sherri September 25, 2010, 10:53 AM

I agree that he may have to fail, get bad grades, and have privelages removed before he will be motivated to change. That being said, we bought our son an expanding file holder with a handle. He now carries every class folder/notebook to every class period and brings them all home every night. Not as hard as carrying every book and he tends to have what he needs. Also - many text books are now available online. Ask your school.

MAYRA October 2, 2010, 7:20 PM

I’m going through the same problem with my 3rd grader. He forgets something everyday. It turns out that his backpack is so heavy that I decided to purchase second hand copies of 2 of his textbooks. This helped a bit because those are two books he doesn’t have to remember to bring. The books were cheapt too! One was $5 and the other one $10 at

Terri October 23, 2010, 9:18 AM

My 10 year old is going through the same thing. Man, we have tried everything… restriction/ loss of priviliges, teacher notes. assignment books, parent/ teacher meetings, principals, extra books, consequences, I have even tried sticker rewards… money rewards, fun time, i have even made games with his work assignments to keep him interested and bottom line is if he doesn’t want to do it he won’t! He is diagnosed with ADHD and is on medication for it, last year he made straight A’s! I am at the point that i don’t know what else to do but let him fail and at the same time… i feel that I will fail as his mom for not helping. BY the way… nagging DOES NOT help!!!!! I t makes the children become more defiant and unruly about what you are trying to get them to do!!!

Stacey October 28, 2010, 6:27 AM

My son and I are in the same boat. Nagging does not work; it make it worse. My son is 12 and does have ADHD, although no longer on medication. He is unorganized and forgetful. Only brings home part of what he needs for his assignments so they can’t be completed. I’ve let him suffer the consequences of bad grades. He passed 6th grade by the skin of his teeth and 7th isn’t off to a good start either. He is a smart kid but just doesn’t care whether he does well or not and would rather not pass in homework than get back a lousy grade. When he does get his homework done, it usually takes 4-5 hours each night and as a single mom with a daughter as well, it’s impossible for me to sit with him that length of time. There is such a lack of motivation that I don’t what to do. I used to be super mom, but now feel like such a failure.

DitifucsRebo November 2, 2010, 3:00 AM

Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.

Navigating ADHD, Inc. November 3, 2010, 6:13 PM

Before trying any strategies brainstorm with your child what he or she thinks would be a good way to remember homework. Often times this simple strategy is overlooked because parents belive their child would already being doing it if they knew how. This belief is false because children need help gaining self awareness. Help your child build off of what he or she thinks might work by adding suggestions when needed. This needs to be a lifelong skill not a quick fix for remembering homework. When you start by listening to your child and by developing strategies together you help you child learn self awareness.

Amy November 12, 2010, 5:58 AM

My son is in high school, was tested twice for ADHD in elementary school. I instruct him to do something, he agrees, then walks away and immediately gets distrcted by something else. I took the TV and video games out of his room. Arrogrance has to be recognized for what it is and dealt with accordingly.

The Best Science Fair Project Ever November 24, 2010, 11:29 PM

Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.

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