HomeHealth & BehaviorBehavior & Discipline

Ask the Experts

How Do I Help My Child with Forgetfulness?

By Dr. Ruth Jacoby, Educational Consultant


My son is having a lot of problems remembering things like his books in order to do his homework. How can I help him overcome his forgetfulness? Should I be worried?


Don't worry, there are always solutions. Be patient. Some resolutions work faster than others. Try these ideas first:

1. Chart a list of items your child needs to remember. Make the sequence brief. As your child performs each activity, have him put a check mark in the box.

  • Place all class work in folders.
  • Write down homework assignment in my journal (planner).
  • Put books that I will need immediately into my backpack.
  • Make sure that I checked again when the teacher announces that it is the end of the day.

2. It might be as simple as having the teacher remind him at the end of   each day to bring home the specific books that are needed for the homework. Talk with her at a conference to see if she is willing to do this for your child.

3. Have a "heart to heart" talk with your son about how concerned you are about his forgetting his books. Ask him for suggestions. Sometimes children will surprise you with their answers.

4. Ask the teacher or your son to get phone numbers of his classmates so if he does forget his books, he would be able to call and get some of the important information.

If you find that you have exhausted all of these possible solutions and the situation hasn't disappeared, you may want ask your child's teacher or other school personnel for help.

Dr. Ruth Jacoby has been involved in education for more than 30 years as an educator, principal and currently as an educational consultant in Florida. She is the co-author of the School Talk! Success Series including Parent Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication With the School and Your Child, Homework Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication About Your Child's Homework and Test Talk!: Understanding the Stakes and Helping Your Children Do Their Best.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.

Comments from readers

"Good article. I have an 8th grader who for whatever reason just refuses to do homework. If he gets an assignment in class and gets to do it in class he'll do it. Give him homework and he just simply forgets about it. Out of sight out of mind. any suggestions? I am at my wits end. I have no idea what assignments he has because he won't write them in his planner. We have contacted the teachers to assist us and they have agreed to check his book to make sure he is writing down the assignments. He forgets or refuses (however you classify it)to bring his book to the teachers. Same problem. We don't know what is happening and he doesn't complete his lessons. The worse part is he'll actually go take a test without having reviewed the easy review sheet they gave him to look over. He'll fail the test and won't tell us. presumably he is embarrased by it, but he refuses to do anything or for whatever reason can't do anything, to stop this foolishness. When he actually reads thr! ough the materials he'll do fine. He just doesn't read through the materials on his own. HELP!!!!! "
"My son is in the sixth grade for the 2nd. time. He is very forgetful. Has alot of bad grades due to forgetting to turn in homework that he worked so hard to do the night before. Not a new issue, has been like this for years and we have already talked to teachers to help remind, but they have so may students and can only remind him so much. He is 13 years old. Do you have any suggestions? "