Whether you assign homework nightly or just occasionally, students who "forget" to do it can put a strain on the progress your class makes as a whole. To uncover strategies teachers use to encourage homework compliance, Been There, Done That asks veteran teachers to share their approaches to this ongoing problem.
What strategies and systems do you have in place to handle "I forgot my homework" problems?
"The fourth and fifth grade classes at my school have a homework club. At the end of a grading period, those students with fewer than three assignments missing get to go on a trip. After the first grading period, the forgetters are no longer forgetting."
—Rhonda Cothron, Lafayette, Tennessee
"I have an "OOPS! I forgot my homework!" worksheet that they fill out with the REASON they forgot it, the ASSIGNMENT they missed (math pg.23 #5-20), and what they PLAN to do to get it in. The parents get the assignment sheets on Friday and sign and return them to me on Monday. This way, the parents are aware of any missed assignments."
—Heather, Annandale, New Jersey
"I list the complete day's assignments on the chalkboard before school begins. When the students arrive, they copy the assignments in their agendas. At the end of the day, we spend a few minutes checking off those assignments we have completed. Any incomplete assignment is circled and becomes homework. I make sure all homework is packed to go home. Parents have been instructed to sign agendas each night, so they will see what work needs to be done."
—Steve Mills, Greensburg, Indiana
"I check my students' assignment books before they leave to make sure they have ALL of the assignments written down. Their parents must sign their books each night, allowing them to check their child's work and progress. If they come back to school without all completed work, they get an "invitation" to stay in with me during lunch and recess until they are able to complete it. It's amazing how quick it gets done when I'm looking over their shoulder!"
—Traci McKee, Lemont, Illinois
"I check all homework first thing in the morning. If a student does not have their homework, I calmly remind them to sign the "Red Notebook." This notebook contains their personal citizenship page. Then I instruct them to do their homework during recess. This means they are still responsible for doing their homework. If I ever have a student who continually forgets their homework, I create a schedule for them to fill out and turn in each day. I write down the things they need to accomplish after school and they fill in the time they began and ended that task. If a problem still remains, I call them at home to find out if they have done their homework. I have never had to do the last step."
—Judy Hostrup, Mansfield, Texas
"I keep a record of homework papers turned in, and my first graders get a reward for every 12 homework assignments completed. Some schools have a room open for doing homework for an hour after school. This gives children whose homes are not conducive to doing homework, a place to work, and a person to consult with. Not all homes have a place for kids to work. Also, some parents may not have the skills to help the child at home."
—Barb Shillinger, Aberdeen, Washington
"There is never going to be a cure all that will work for all students. However, at our school, we have a phone home policy that has improved communication between parent, child, and school, AND it has improved students getting their homework in. When a student forgets his/her homework, we have a carbon copy scripted message that he/she must read over the phone to a parent. It goes something like this: Dear Mom or Dad, I forgot my assignment. If I do not turn it in by tomorrow, I will have to stay after school. This has helped immensely!!!!! Again, it is not a cure all."
—Jan Harris, Battle Creek, Missouri