Monday, January 17, 2011

How do I get my class to turn in homework?!

Ms. Dorothy,
I have tried taking away recess, holding kids after school, and calling home. I've also tried class bribes, incentives, and individual prizes. It doesn't seem to matter what I do, my kids just don't do homework, or if they do it, they don't turn it in! It is making me crazy, and I am out of ideas. Can you help?
-4th grade teacher

There really is only one right answer to this problem.  Stop giving homework.

If they aren't doing it, or aren't turning it in, it is probably because the work has no meaning for them.  Those who are doing the homework probably don't need the extra practice, but are willing to, or enjoy complying with your expectations.  

I understand the thinking that homework builds discipline, and good habits, and that putting the extra practice in at home will help to solidify learning, but you aren't getting any of those things.  

Take some time and reflect on the amount of time in class, and the amount of energy outside of class, you have put into trying to make your class value the homework you assign. Then consider what else you might have accomplished with that time and energy if homework were off the table.

If you have school requirements for homework, ask your students to read books, magazines, or websites at home. But stop battling them to prove that they've done it.

Consider what might happen if you give every student a perfect grade for homework for the rest of the year, and then asked them what they'd have to do to live up to that grade.  


  1. Interesting perspective...I will be reflecting.

    3rd grade teacher

  2. boy, i could save headache, paperwork, and instructional time. I love it. I too will be reflecting.