My Son Doesn't Write Down His Homework Assignments
By Debra Collins, Family therapist
My son is in fifth grade, and he takes a long time to write down and copy assignments. Most of the time he doesn't get all of his assignments written down and I have to get it from the teachers. When I spoke with his teachers they said it was due to him talking and daydreaming. The fifth grade involves much more homework and tests than any other grade so far. What should I do?
Is this new behavior? Was your son able to copy his assignments off of the board in previous grades? Is he only "slow" with this task, or does he have other academic challenges? There are processing problems that might explain his difficulty with retaining the information from the board to the paper. If that is the case, he might have shown signs of this difficulty before fifth grade.
Children avoid what they don't like doing and also what is hard for them. You and his teacher should further discuss if she believes this issue is purely behavioral, or if he may need an educational evaluation. Some teachers have various methods for assessing this and dealing with both behavior and educational concerns. Here are some approaches teachers use:
- Have students write down their assignments in the morning when they are fresh, to avoid rushing at the end of the day.
- Posting assignments online so both parents and students can check them from home.
- On Mondays, provide students with a homework list that includes all assignments for the week.
- Have a student in the class read the assignments aloud from the board, in addition to copying.
- Provide a standard homework form with blank spaces to fill in. Some children do better filling out a few things instead of having to write down the whole assignment.
- Ask your son what ideas he has to make this easier for him.
- Ask him how he feels about homework and the assignments. Could you make some adjustments at home that would help him feel more successful with the new challenges of fifth grade?
Also, some children regress in fifth grade because of their fears about entering middle school. It would be helpful to explore this issue as well. Some schools offer workshops for both students and parents about transitioning to middle school which can begin to address these issues.
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.