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Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 21422
Experience:  Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
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Our 9 yr old son is very careless with his homework and responsibilities.

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Our 9 yr old son is very careless with his homework and responsibilities.   He makes excuses, procrastinates, and doesn't do things he should. I am sure it is somewhat natural at his age, but recently the problem has gotten worse and has drawn the attention of his teacher. My wife and I both work 8AM to 8PM 5 days a week, and we undoubtedly have not used what little time we have together with him to coach him properly about this. We are at a loss. What can we do to help him break this pattern and learn the value of doing things right and making things happen? I am worried that this patterns will become lifelong if we don't act now.
Hello, and thanks for your question.

Has the teacher told you that your son is also not paying attention in class, doing poorly on tests, and/or not turning in assignments on time or at all?

What does your son do after school, before you come home from work? Is he home alone? Does he go to someone else's house, an after-school program, etc.?

Thanks for all your additional detail.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Well today the teacher had our son call us at work to report that he had not followed through on a promise to bring in some homework.... It seems this has been building up. He is a smart and seemingly well-adjusted kid, though prefers sports to schoolwork. He is picked up after school by one of several caregivers and looked after at our house or his grandparent's house next store, until my wife and I get home from work. He does some homework, but seems to like to save some for doing with us (seems to need the attention). If left to his own devices, he watches tv, plays video games, and reads comic books. We instruct the caregivers to have him finish his homework after school, but there is probably some inconsistency there and he is becoming increasingly clever at avoiding it - and once or twice has lied to us about it.
Hello again, and thanks for your reply. Also, thanks very much for your patience, as I wasn't online when you responded.

First, I would recommend that you have your son tested by a qualified person, to find if he has any learning disabilities. Please don't confuse learning disabilities with intelligence; I realize you said your son is smart and I don't doubt it. He may have some obstacles which are preventing him from doing his work successfully, and he's getting frustrated, so he'd rather do something else. Typical kid behavior, yes, but in children with learning disabilities, they really can't DO the work properly and even though they may have seemed to do well up until this grade/age, now that the work is increasingly more difficult and more voluminous, it's not unusual for children to be diagnosed with some slight learning problems, at this age, and they can be remedied with the correct instructional methods and 'changes' in the way he's taught and he learns.

I feel a big part of your son's problem is the fact that the after school caregivers are inconsistent re: homework, etc., and he would rather do his work with you, so I recommend setting up a schedule on a chart, for him to see every day and you can go over it with him before bed, with which subjects of homework, for example reading, math, spelling, etc., he will finish with his caregivers and reserve one subject which YOU will do with him when you get home. Make it something relatively simple and short, because your time will be limited. Also, on this chart, leave room for other activities like TV, video games, reading comic books, and decide upon a time limit for those activities. As he does them each day, allow him to check it off and also, for a job well done, with homework, give a 'gold star' on the chart, and at the end of the school week, offer an incentive, like an activity (outside the house) that he enjoys, if he earns a certain number of stars. DO follow up with that activity even for a small number of stars, especially at first, so he sees it's an 'attainable' goal, and he's not 'working for nothing'. Having 'set' goals to accomplish, is very important and will help him learn responsibility. Also, he should be punished, with a favorite activity taken away for a day, if he lies to you or his caregivers.

Try to check his homework and other school papers every night when you come home, and if he doesn't have a 'planner', in which to record school assignments, get him one. It's like a journal with a calendar, with space to write school assignments on each day, when things are due, tests, projects, etc.

I hope things improve soon, and please let me know if you would like to discuss this further.

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