Homework: Whose Responsibility is It?

School has started in many areas (and will start very soon everywhere else). This is the time of year when Dr. Marshall gets many questions from teachers and parents about homework—specifically how to handle a child who simply refuses to do homework.

Many times the question comes in after the adult has asked the child reflective questions and has spoken to him/her positively about the matter. Often, the youth is also well aware of the various levels of The Hierarchy of Social Development and knows where his/her behavior falls when refusing to do the homework.

So what’s the solution?

According to Dr. Marshall, no one can force another person to learn. The person needs to be motivated. If there is no motivation to do homework, don’t expect it to be done.

Homework is not a requirement for success in life or for grading in school. Therefore:

(1) Elicit from the student the reason that homework was assigned. Then (2) elicit the student’s motivation for not doing it. After you have prompted the student to reflect and articulate on both, then let the child know that you will no longer attempt to force homework to be done.

The message to give to the young person is that it is his/her life. While you will do your best to help the youngster direct what will be beneficial for him/her, ultimately the child makes his or her own decisions.

The elimination of coercion, prompting the youngster to reflect and articulate on the two items above, and placing the responsibility totally on the young person is the best approach.

1 Comment
  1. Good article, but misses the other side of the coin — authority. There are also some unfounded assumptions about motivation being the reason why children do not do their homework. I have written a more thorough response and posted it on my website and blog. http://thehomeworktrap.com/Responsiblity_Authority.html