The following question came Monday during a readers' Q&A with Child Caring writer Barbara Meltz on Boston.com:
Question: Weíre having homework problems with our 13-year-old son. He is very bright, and gets terrific grades on exams, but continually gets poor grades on his report card because he does not turn in homework.
Even assignments as simple as getting a test signed. During 6th and 7th grade we checked his teachersí web sites for assignments and made sure that they were done. In 8th grade, the teachers expect that he should be writing down hw assignments in his agenda (they provide one every year), but unfortunately he refuses to do so.
Consequently we are unaware of what homework is due and it is frequently not done. For the most part, I agree with his teachers, he should be taking care of this himself, but the reality is that he is likely to fail unless I can personally ensure that it gets completed.
Neither positive nor negative consequences have any effect. Other than that, he is a wonderful boy. Are we enabling by checking homework? Should we allow him to fail?
Barbara Meltz: Susan, In general, I believe homework is the job of the child, but I also believe it is the job of the parent to set standards. It sounds like somewhere along the line, you may have been overly involved and that turned him off. It also sounds like you already have allowed him to fail and he doesn't care.
Is it possible his not caring reflects on an overly-intrusive parent/child relationship? One way or the other, you need to figure out why he doesn't care. Have you asked him that question? What about these questions: Is the work too easy? Too hard? Is it possible there's a learning issue that you don't know about, or a problem with his ability to organize himself? Maybe executive function issues? (I don'[t mean to pathologize, but....)
What grades would he like to see on his report card? What comments would he like to get from teachers? What kind of help would he like from you? What kind of help doesn't he want from you? Ideally, you need to find a way to help him re-set his standards.
That may mean getting help from teachers, or from an educational consultant. Ultimately, parents need to be a homework coach, not a homwork cop, and thaht's especially true at this age. But it sounds like you've got some issues to sort out before you can get to that point.
Agree with Barbara here? Have some advice of your own? Let us know in our comments section -- and check out these previous Child Caring posts:FULL ENTRY