11 Year old --not turning in homework - FamilyEducation
11 Year old --not turning in homework
02/13/2009 at 16:40 PM

I hope someone on here can offer some advice on how to handle this situation. I have tried everything I know to do. My 11 year (6th grader) seems to have trouble completing and turning in his homework. Even when he does complete it, he doesn't turn it in. He already has 6 zero's this 9 week period and we aren't even 1/2 way through it!! I'm just baffled!! We have never had this problem with him before. We did move from WV to NC and of course, he did have to switch schools, but that was 2 years ago. I have tried rewarding him when he does turn it in and I have punished him when he doesn't. Two weeks ago, I took everything from him...no computer, no video games, no tv, and no telephone. I just didn't know what else to do and here we are 2 weeks later and still NOT doing any better! He is so bored because he can't do any of the things he likes to do, but still can't seem to get it together!! I'm at a loss here and I don't know what else to do. I say I'm going to stop worrying about it and just let him fail and repeat the 6th grade...maybe that's what it will take...but I just can't seem to bring myself to actually stop worrying about it. Any suggestions???

What does your son say when you ask him why he is not turning in his work?

Focus on figuring out what exactly is going on with your son. It sounds like this is new behavior for him, so there must be a reason for it. What is behind this behavior of not turning in his work?

I would have a meeting with the teacher, with your son present as well, to discuss the situation together and see if s/he can offer insight and possible solutions.

Just some thoughts--

If your son is finding the school material this year especially difficult, perhaps you might monitor his studies and offer your assistance more, or hire a tutor.

Sometimes it is more a time management/organization problem that kids need help with more than the work itself.

Has he changed friends recently to ones who think doing schoolwork is "uncool"?

As a parent who knows her child is not doing his best, that something is wrong---well, of course you are going to worry, and rightfully so. Now's the time to get him back on the right track. HS will be here before you know it, so you want him to form good study habits now to make the transition easier.

Keep trying to find out what is the root of the problem. Good luck!


Try taking his homework in and turning it in to the teacher yourself or send it in with a sibling. Maybe this will embarrass him enough that he will turn it in himself.

As a fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teacher I see this issue all the time. Many times it is becuase of a lack of organizational skills. Try looking at your son's system of organization. Is he using multiple folders, a binder, accordian file? I just had a student switch to one folder as he could not keep track of all the multiple folders he was using. He has just one folder for all his academic classes, one folder for his special area classes, and one folder for homework. It made me cringe at first to think that all the work would be shoved in one folder, but it was better than not being able to find it between backpacks, locker, and binders. Inside this students homework folder I placed a nightly note that he has to fill out each day. This works similar to a planner but focuses on just one day at a time. On the nightly note he has a space to write what homework has to be done, things he needs to bring home to do the work, and a checklist for when he finishes the work what he should do to make sure it comes back. I sign it each night and so do the parents. The next morning the student comes in a few minutes early to turn in the work to the appropriate teacher. Then gets his academic folder ready for the day. Find a time where you can go in to help your child organize his locker too, or ask his teacher(s) to help. In his locker, post a checklist of things he should take to each class. Sometimes being able to slide a paperclip up and down this checklist helps the student to mentally prepare the items he needs. I saw the post that suggested the parent go in and drop off the homework to embarass the child. This might work as a quick fix, but will not bring about a long term change of behavior as the child has not learned the skill himself. It might also create another problem of the child not wanting to go to school as they have now become victim of teasing or verbal aggression from peers seeing the parent at school. Retention as punishment for not completing work is not always a good idea either. In some cases retention works when the maturity of the child or the academic ability is in question. There has been a lot of debate in the educational field about grading for learning. This has to do with looking at what the child has learned through other ways than just paper to penicl tasks. If your child is able to do the homework, but just chooses not to,then he probably does not need to be retained. I hope this helps a little bit...

I have to agree w/the woman who stated that there must be an underline issue that needs to be addressed as to why he is having problems turning in the work. Having to repeat 6th Grade is a difficult decision that the teacher and you need to discuss w/him present. He needs to understand that you are there for him and this is a serious problem. Also, talk with the school's social worker. As a graduate of ECU School of Social Work, I know that we had to take courses in psychology. She/he may have dealt w/this and could assist in talking to your son. You can also think about having your son put his homework in a HOMEWORK folder. He will have to put all his work in it, you will need to sign off on a sheet stapled to the inside that you have seen it, and the teachers will have to sign it as well. That way you know that they have taken the work out. Buy one that will stand out. Let the instructors know what you are trying to do. Get everyone on board. Remember that your son is also going through changes and may be having issues w/those changes.

Letting your son fail is not the solution here. Ck your son's work every day. Talk to his teacher, and work out a system for submitting all assignments. I don't think you shld be handing in the assignments yourself (that's not teaching your son anything), but instead maybe the teacher shld collect the homewk directly from each student. If your son doesn't have the homewk, or if he just doesn't hand it in, a note shld immediately go home to you. I also agree that you need to get to the bottom of why your son is doing this. It's very hard to believe that he deliberately wants to fail. Have you just recently noticed this change in behavior since you moved to your new location, or was your son like this before? Does you son act differently at home as well? As hard as it is, try to get to the bottom of this. Overall, though, I think you're doing all the right things. Hang in there.

Hi, I am curious to know how you have resolved this problem and if any of the emails have helped your son turning in his homework.

Hi, all...thanks for the suggestions. I, unfortunately, have not been able to resolve this issue, yet. My husband took him to the store and got new notebooks and folders and different things to help him get organized and it worked for 1 week...but then this past Thursday, he did not get a sticker on his report (which shows he did not turn everything in). When I asked him about it, he said he is sure he turned everything in. I emailed his teacher's to find out what assignment(s) were not turned in, but I have yet to receive a response from either of them. I also requested a conference with all of his teachers, myself, and my son. I asked for this conference 2 weeks ago and was told by one of his teachers that she would get back to me on a day we could do this, but that was the last I have heard from her. I have tried, repeatedly to find out if he is being bullied or if something else may be going on at school, but he denies that anything is bothering him. Part of me feels this is just a stage he is going through, but I also feel like there is probably a reason for this behavior. So...I guess I am really not any better off with this situation than I was a few weeks ago. I also have tried getting his homework planner signed by his teachers and myself, but somehow he still isn't turning it all in. I know that when I sign his planner, all of the homework written on the planner is done...or I don't sign it. My thinking was if the teacher is signing it also, that all of the homework IS written in it, but apparently not. So, why sign it if all of the assignments are not written in it? I really just don't feel like I'm getting any sort of support from his teachers at all. I just get the negative reports, but then can't get her to set up a conference time, or get her to email me back about what's missing. I realize she has several students other than my son, but if she is going to take the time to let me know about the negative things, then why can't she take the time to help me fix it? I just feel frustrated and angry about this whole situation....I just have to keep telling myself...this to shall pass!!

Okay, to me the next step would be to set up a conference with the principal, teacherS, BOTH parents and your son. This will have to be when school has ended for the day to ensure that the teachers are ALL available. If you don't get any help from the principal, I suggest that you contact the Board of Education. You are doing everything that you can and not getting conferences that you need.

When I read your comments, I wondered if I had written this and not remembered because it describes my intelligent, 11 year old, 6th grade son perfectly. He tells me he turned in his papers when his teachers tell me he hasn't and then tries to redo them and they still don't get handed in. I can help him with papers and know that they are done correctly and they are marked not turned in. I am at my wit's end. I have been to the meeting with both parents, all teachers, and my son, and he signed an agreement and nothing has changed. I have taught him how to organize and to put all his assignments in one folder that he brings to every class and write every assignment down in his agenda, which I look at every night and initial after his homework has been completed. He is getting Fs because of the 0s. His completed assignments are usually As or Bs, so he can do the work. He often doesn't even remember being given some of his work. Teachers say they do not suspect ADD or anything like that, just that he appears to make a choice not to do the work. He is a happy, well-adjusted boy so I don't know what is going on. I just want him to succeed and now I am ready to give up and just let him take control so that we don't have to argue and have upset in our lives.

I also have a daughter that started Middle School, and she has ADD, she has A's in 3 of her class, F's in 2 class, and has never brought home a F. I have found out that the school, requires alot of organzation, and my daughter looses it first thing or it is to heard for her to understand so she just want do it. I think that the new ness, and the classes that she has is just not right for her. maybe this is what is going on with your child. But as a parent I feel your pain. I have just been going crazy and we are half way through. I also go her counseler involved. Good look just keep looking, and searching the web, looking to see if you can put your finger on is.

I have read your reply. Please don't let the teachers tell you this. I don't think any child wants a F. My daughter don't really understand the class and your son sounds just like my daughter. But my daught really forgets, like she will start of for something and get side tract. I got them to do a IEP on my daughter and it took a couple of years,I noticed that she was having probelems, and this has help when I have meetings with the teachers. I understand because I see there is a few mom's like us so we are not in the boat alone. Hope this help alittle.

I am having the same problem with my 11 yr. old son and the teacher. He is in grade 5, he is a good student and he has always had excellent grades, until he started grade 5, in the beginning everything seemed fine. then about a month into school i found out that my son was in the back of the room in a corner with his desk. my son did not tell me he was in the corner infact the teacher finally called me for a meeting and his desk was in the corner. he called me in to discuss that my son was not showing any effort to to his school work and that was why he was in the corner. the teacher actually told me that is how he punishes his students. the teacher told me my son was a good student and that he needed to learn some responsibilities. i told the teacher to get him out of the corner. then i stopped by school several times and he was still in the corner. i went to the principal with the teacher the principal did not seem worried that he was in the corner, but she did tell the teacher that my son needed to go out for recess because he was keeping him in from recess too.this teacher has isolated my son from the class and from playing with friends as a punishment for lack of motivation on schoolwork.then the principal said we would have another meeting and she did not call me back for a month, infact i called her back to set up another meeting, because by this time the nurse is involved because my son was going to the nurse almost everyday, complaining of his asthma, or stomach. he was coming home with headaches too. the teacher said his homework was not getting handed in when i know i signed the planner and helped him with his school work. i wrote in the planner for the teacher to give me his email so we could better commicate, he never wrote it down or called. its like this teacher is completely ignoring me at this point. and he still had my son in the corner, for 2 months and no recess. my son finally told me he did not like his teacher and that the teacher picked on him and 2 other students every single day, and yelling at him in front of the other students. i told the principal to switch teachers, but she thinks that would not solve the problem. so the plan is to go back to same teacher and my son has to turn in his homework to the principal every morning. and the principal will give it to the teacher. i feel my son is being singled out by this teacher and the principal thinks not. the nurse told my son if he is having a problem in class to come talk to her. the nurse and i believe he was faking most of the time to get out of that class. the whole corner issue was brushed off by the principal and told me he was not in the corner anymore. something is not right with this teacher. any feedback would be great thanks,

First of all, school personnel are not allowed to put kids in the corner. They cld get in trouble for this if you pursued it. I think you were right to go to the principal, but if you feel she's not taking you seriously, go above her head. It's obvious that something is going on w/ your son this yr. You really need to get to the bottom of this. If it is in fact the teacher that's the problem, and nothing that you've tried so far has helped, you all need to sit down again and come up w/ a better plan. Just keep at the school, and don't let up. Call every day if you have to to make sure your son handed in his assignments. Do whatever it takes to get the school to help your son. Hopefully they will listen to your requests. Also, make sure you stay on top of your son every step of the way. Even if you have to physically sit in his classrm and watch him hand in his work, do it. This is an extreme last resort, but if it works, do it. Good luck w/ everything. Let us know how things go.

Sometimes kids at this age don't want to look "smart" and they try to fit in by not doing their best and having teachers like them. I'd check this out with my son first. Could it be that when he was doing his work and turning it in that he was getting bullied by the other kids? A psychologist working with your son may be able to help you. I would also give the suggestion of having an ADHD evaluation done. Write a letter to the school psychologist saying you are seeing alot of organization problems and you would like to rule out ADHD. They may do a Conners or a Vanderbilt.... a form for you to answer questions about your son's behaviors and one for your son's teacher or teachers. (I've been on both ends of these forms.) Don't let the school say they don't think they see this... ADD inattentive can be hard to diagnose. (Been there as a teacher and also mom of a son with ADHD both types). Also if problems continue, children in the Autism Spectrum or NLD have alot of problems with organization. It can be that they hold it together until they reach upper elem. grades or middle school. Don't just think that they didn't have trouble before, because it gets harder to organize as they get into middle school and then high school. Also as another poster mentioned.... less is somewhat better when trying to organize. Too many folders makes things harder. Labeling helps as well. I have color coded folders with notebooks and or bookcovers before as well. I wouldn't at this point try to embarrass your son, until I ruled other things out. You don't need his self esteem to go down the tubes. He may already be feeling terrible out not getting work done and he doesn't need depression on top of that. One last thought.... has your son had a recent change in friends, attitude, work habits? Watch for signs of peer pressure at this age. Good luck to you. only2boys

We too, have been going through the same thing with our son, who is now 14. We are a week into the last grading period and he is already failing 3 classes only because he doesn't turn in his homeowork. We can take everything away. We can offer incentive. We can put into action measures to help get him organized. NOTHING works. I don't get it. At this point, I feel he will either do it or won't. I/we honestly don't know what else to do. He will be going to 9th grade next year ONLY because he will be turning 15 this summer. They don't want him being 15 going on 16 and still being in 8th grade....they will just let the graduation achievement tests keep him from graduating, if the problem still remains. I guess I don't have an answer, but know you are not alone. I know it's not much help.

Please do not feel like you are the only ones. My son first started exhibiting this behavior at about 11 or 12 yrs old as well. It has progressively gotten worse. He does have ADD and has been on meds, changed meds, off meds. Had me carrying daily conversations with teachers, following up with signing planners, watching the online grade board for missed assignments, everything.... nothing helped. We are now in the first few weeks of 8th grade and he will be turning 14 next week. The entire time he has been telling me that things are going good and that he is putting forth an effort to stay on top of his grades. LIES. He brings homework home everyday. I see it, finished. Never gets turned in. My husband and I found over 250 sheets of homework, finished and unfinished, not turned in, hidden in his room behind dressers, under beds, in old sports bags, everywhere... Locker was stuffed full of paperwork too. We offer a solid and structured home life. We do not over demand or expect perfection. I have begged him for C's and D's. nothing. I have recently requested a referral from his pediatrician to start seeing a therapist for behavorial problems. He is so smart and has the biggest heart in the world. No other problems. No bad temper, no bad attitude, happy kid.... something is wrong. His teachers have now all called me since school started these few weeks ago to inform me that my son is flunking every class. I was a straight A student. I don't understand. I have experienced terrible heart brake and undue stress from this situation. I understand your frustrations. I have called the Principle to discuss this situation because i have gotten nowhere with the counselers, VP, homework help classes, homework board, or anything else. I told him how frustrated and helpless I am. He scheduled an after school meeting to meet with ALL of the teachers, my son, and his parents to discuss this problem. I hope we can come to a resolution. He will also start counseling soon. I will share with everyone what happens after. With all the management and organization you do as a parent, it doesn't help... maybe for a week or two, but then everything has went back downhill. The only thing that has semi helped has been to demand homework everyday, but then even that doesn't always get turned in. Good luck. I will follow up soon. I am so glad that I am not the only parent experiencing this strange behavior. From loving/dismayed parent to another.

How are things going witsend? I have the same problem with my daughter, who is 14 and in the 8th grade. It started halfway through the 6th grade. EXACTLY the same story as yours. Big heart, happy kid (except the teenage girl attitude), does most of her homework but doesn't turn it in. Loses it. Does it again to get partial credit. Loses it again. Says she turned it in but teacher can't find it. Ugh!! What do we do!!!!!

I have a child, now in high school who went through this same thing in middle school. I think sometime kids at that age can't see the bigger picture, or know how their grades will effect them later when they seek higher learning/college. The big picture is bad grades mean no scholarships, grants, etc for school. Not only that, they can't even get into some programs should they become interested in the medical field, for example. It boils down to money, for school or a good career (which is still about money). It may be unpopular, but I dropped out of nagging my son and resorted to flat out bribery. I told him each A on a report card was worth 20 bucks, and before I knew it I was dreading report cards because they started getting really expensive. Something to try anyway.

I feel your pain. I'm a psychologist and I struggle with this same issue with both my clients and my own children. It's so frustrating. I agree with discussing the issue with the teacher and calling on their cooperation and support in this matter. I word my emails as if I'm teaming with them to help their efforts in educating my kids. Such language is often appreciated. It is also helpful to teach kids how to be organized and how to study. Lastly, it's important the kids actually care about their education. I"m at the point that I think they just don't care. I can't understand this cause we've stressed the value of eudcation, but somehow they don't have the same drive my husband and I had in school. But they are not alone. Seems like this attitude is rampant throughout the schools. My oldest is now in high school and I'm still contacting techers and creating behavior contracts. At this point, I'm afraid he'll still need "mommy" in college!

I am a 13 year old and I had this problem, if your child wants to fix this then give them the book Take The Stairs. If not make them sit down at the kitchen table for at least one hour every night.

I have a 5th grader who is great in math but recently I found he is not doing his ELA (English Language Arts)work because "he doesn't want to". My son was diagnosed with ADHD 2 yrs ago we had him on meds which did bring his school grades up, however, he lost about 20 lbz in 3 mths started feeling depressed & had anxiety from the meds so we stopped them. I am in constant contact with his teacher & his counselor. His teacher is battling cancer & my son likes him so I am not sure if my son isn't doing the homework because he is sad for his teacher & acting out. Due to his teacher fighting this disease he has a lot of substitute teachers & since his teachers absence he seems to not participate as much in class anymore.I feel like I am going to have a breakdown if I don't find a resolution to this. Can anyone please please tell me what I can do?? I have tried everything possible & somehow none of this is working. I am at my wits end & need some guidance if possible!!

Hi Witsend...I am in the same boat as you. My 10 yr old was diagnosed with ADHD was on meds and now off due to the side effects. I was always an honor roll student, even in college I made the honor society but my son doesn't like doing some hw because he "doesn't feel like it". I don't knw what to do as I have tried everything, punishment, tutors, conferences, constant contact with his teacher, and some how he doesn't seem to care. At least that's what I get from him. I told him he will be held back if he keeps it up but all he does is lie about his hw. I've been so stressed I am on medication, pls let me know if you have any pointers to share and how it's going with your son.

Sometimes performance anxiety can be so strong that even really simple task causes a state of panic. First of all, you need to investigate. It is quite possible that a carrot and a kind word will have a better effect, but only if you are able to establish a working communication with your child.

In reply to by pokey