By Dr. Stacie Bunning, clinical psychologist
My son is totally unfocused when it comes to school. When he can't figure something out on his homework right away, he gets frustrated and wants my husband or me to do the work for him. He never reads the directions and will do assignments wrong and then gets upset when he has to do them over. Besides that, for the past two years he has had a ton of late assignments, and no matter how many times we remind him or discipline him, it does no good. The idea of another school year of fighting with him makes me want to just go into hiding. Any ideas on how to help him get more organized and focused and maybe even (gasp!) enjoy school? He just seems to dislike every subject because he has to do work. Help please!
When completing homework is a problem for children, it can make family life very unpleasant. Add late assignments to the mix, and you've got a recipe for disaster! It sounds like you've tried lots of different tactics, but you son continues to struggle. It's time to reach out for help from experts who can take some of the pressure off you. The purpose of homework is to practice skills and apply concepts learned in the classroom, not to learn how to do something new. While a fifth-grader might need a reminder or two to hit the books, he should no longer need much guidance from his parents. Unless your son's teachers have specifically identified a learning problem, then I suspect you are dealing with a pattern of behavior that has developed out of a combination of his desire to avoid work and your desire to be helpful.
It sounds like you are ready to find a different way. Since your son will begin middle school (where the workload is heavier) next year, now is the perfect time to make some changes! Here are some suggestions: