Believe it or not, children don’t blow off their homework just to anger parents. If homework is missing you need to learn why before you can take appropriate action. Six common causes of missing assignments include: emotional upset at home, social issues at school, peer pressure, teacher personality conflicts, inappropriate placement, and undiagnosed learning disabilities.
It might be
a note from your second grader’s teacher or a phone call from the middle school
math instructor. It might be your first
hint of trouble, or a pattern repeated annually. How you react to the news that your child
isn’t doing his schoolwork can go a long way in solving the problem.
Children don't forget assignments just to
anger parents. Missing work can appear
at any grade level, with any teacher, and in any subject. Whether temporary or chronic, by identifying
the cause you can take appropriate action to help your child succeed. Most homework issues fall into one of six
Emotional Upset at Home
Upsets: As adults we compartmentalize our lives. We check our troubles at the door when we
punch in at work. That’s how it is with
adults... not so for kids.
Children, especially younger children, have
difficulty putting their feelings on hold.
A secretly broken glass, a forgotten chore, a lost toy, almost any event
causing guilt, can lead to upset... and missing work.
Young ones are also hypersensitive to
changes in their daily routines, especially deviations they might interpret as
rejection. “Daddy forgot to say goodbye,”
or “Mommy didn’t kiss me goodnight;” the resulting upset is often reflected in
To prevent or solve problems due to
temporary emotional upset in students under age ten:
and keep to daily routines.
set time to talk to your child every night.
confidence through praise whenever it is earned.
honesty. It is more important that your
son learn he can tell you if something is wrong, than to be punished for every
Upheavals: Unfortunately not all emotional upsets are so easily solved,
particularly for older students. Your high schooler may wear a mask of
indifference, but remember it is just that, a mask. Longterm difficulties within a family almost
inevitably manifest themselves in missing assignments.
Grandpa has cancer; Dad might get laid off;
Sis is marrying a jerk; the list of potential stressors is endless, and any one
of them can trigger an avoidance response.
If homework is missing over an extended period of time, particularly
from a student with previously good work habits, look for an emotional upset as
the culprit. To prevent or address such
your child. Acknowledge the problem; don’t minimize. Validate that it is normal
to be upset, but that life goes on. Be
supportive, not punitive.
family situations openly and honestly with your children. In an age appropriate manner, explain the
facts. Don’t let imaginations run wild.
in crisis can benefit from counseling.
If your family is in the midst of a major upheaval, get assistance for
your child (either through school, private referral, or a faith based agency).