Homework Suggestions


How do you encourage kids to do homework?

I feel like I’m constantly chasing after students to do it. I find that it’s a reflection of my teaching that they’re not putting effort into it.


In order to differentiate between EFFORT in EMPLOYMENT and EFFORT in LEARNING, I avoid the use of the word, “work.” Rather than referring to home WORK, I refer to “home assignments.”

The only reflection on your teaching should be to ask yourself whether or not the assignments are relevant, meaningful, and/or useful.

Following are some suggestions:

1. Give choices – Give more than one option for the assignments and have students choose their preference.

2. Explain that there is not enough time to cover everything in class. Also, as it takes practice to learn any skill it also takes practice to reinforce learning. Inform students that the brain retains little unless there is reinforcement, much the same way that a person improves skills only with practice. Emphasize that home assignments are given to help the students become more successful—that the assingments are in their best interests, not yours.

3. Have a classroom meeting. Put on the table that the class is a learning community and everyone needs to participate in order for the class to be successful. Ask the students to suggest ideas of how to help students who are not helping themselves.

4. Many of these students have little encouragement and little structure at home. Help students establish procedures for doing assignments, e.g., regular time and place each day.

5. Relationships can be critical. Empower by positive comments, such as, “I know what you are cable of doing.” Some students need to believe in someone else’s belief in them before their belief in themselves kicks in. In such situations aiming at level C is fine, e.g., “Don’t disappoint me. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have done.”


FROM A POST at the mailring:

After fuming last night and deciding I would throw extra homework at them and demand it back the next day and if not, they’d be in at play time, I took many deep breaths and took a different approach.

I started math class with a fun, interactive group activity. Then, I brought us all together and asked why we have homework. The kids generated a great list—about exercising our brains, reviewing what they’ve learned, becoming more independent to do work without the teacher’s help, and to challenge themselves. I was really impressed!

Then, I put a copy of some exceptional homework, completed by one of the kids in the class, on the overhead projector. I asked the class what they noticed about it and we talked about how this one pupil went above and beyond–how neat it was and so clearly labelled, how he showed his work and explained his answers. Then, instead of giving them extra homework, I gave them  a homework assignment to complete right there in class in their HW books. That gave me a chance to walk around and encourage them and make suggestions about using rulers, labels, etc. We ended the lesson with all of them having a model for what an exceptional piece of work should look like for homework. They have now hopefully internalized exactly what I expect of them. I must say, I NEVER would have taken this positive approach prior to the Discipline Without Stress approach, so thank you to all of you for your constant thoughts and ideas.

Year 6 (grade 5) teacher, UK



I have a student who doesn’t do his homework and who struggles in the class. Last year he would have had several detentions from me and a failing grade. I would have forced him to come in to do his homework and we would have been in a power struggle.

This year I purchased several school supplies for him and have always had a kind word for him. I recently found out he is actually homeless and that he and his dad are living in a cheap motel. Recently he has started spending his break time in my class, by his own choosing, doing his math homework. He also drew me some pictures on binder paper that he wanted me to have. It breaks my heart to think of all the opportunities I have missed for this type of relationship with students.