HomeHealth & BehaviorEmotional Well-Being

Ask the Experts

My Fifth-Grader Lies About His Homework

By Dr. Lisa Hunter, Child Psychologist


My son is not completing or doing his homework but what is more upsetting is the fact that he is coming up with clever ways of concealing and destroying the teacher's note. He is also being dishonest regarding completing homework. This is not like him and I am concerned. What can I do to get him back on track?


I wonder whether your son is not doing his homework because he does not understand it or finds it too difficult. I would speak to him and his teachers about the homework to determine if that is the case. If he isn't doing his homework because it is too difficult, getting him extra help may help solve the problem.

Assuming that your son is capable of doing his homework and does not need extra help, I would recommend working with his teacher to develop a behavior intervention plan to help get him back on track. This plan should identify how your son will be rewarded for completing homework and what consequences he will face if he does not complete his homework.

Rewards and consequences should occur both at school and at home. Communication between you and your son's teacher will be an important component of the plan. Since your son currently is not bringing home notes from his teacher, email or phone calls may be a more effective means of communication.

Dr. Lisa Hunter is an assistant professor in the department of child psychiatry at Columbia University and the director of school-based mental health programs at Columbia University's Center for the Advancement of Children's Mental Health. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and evaluation of school-based mental health and prevention programs. In addition she is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. She specializes in cognitive behavioral treatment for children and adolescents.


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

"I have done everything you suggested above. When asking for help from the school, they basically tell me my son needs to be more responsible. Because he fills out a worksheet calander that says he has (worksheets), how am I supposed to know what worksheets. I realize its his responsiblity to know what to do, but why cant the teachers tell me what he has to do........"
"This story is like looking into a mirror! Thank you so very much for the advice given here. I did this last year and finally I really put my foot down and demanded a different approach, I 1st asked for a male teacher to see if that were the case due to the fact that the school was saying I was making it a racial issue (hard to do when the majority of my family & me are bi-racial LOL)at any rate, the male teacher made a difference. This helped my son as well as other male children in class as well as some of the girls, there were a few from single parent households. The other thing I was told was my son was being lazy. Again, the male teacher, moving of the seat and my increased participation helped my son to excel. I just wanted to share this little bit in case someone needs an additional avenue. Have a remarkable school year all! "
"Hi, This is Mary Rowley, 5th and 6th grade Inclusion Teacher. This appeals to be a loaded issue, especially to me as a parent and a teacher. I am experiencing the same problems w/my 15 year old and with my SLD students. Partnershipping with the teachers and offering a reward system for the child can be effective. One thing we must always remember and that is, an old fashion medical screening is a very good place to start."
"We are having the same issues with our daughter. She actually seems to NOT care at all if there are consequences. Any other suggestions. We haVe a plan with the teacher, she has gotten three written 'violations' already this year. ??? "