Do your homework! Check out what the research says about homework's efficacy.
How much is too much? Study our grade-by-grade guide to appropriate homework.
Looking for ways to reduce your child's workload? Get some tips from this anti-homework activist.
Study time vs. family time: Parents sound off on finding a balance between homework and home life.
A case of procrastinitus: Our expert weighs in on a girl whose homework foot-dragging is making her fall behind.
"What's the point?" One teen flat-out refuses to do her homework. Can our expert bring her around?
Scattershot syndrome: A surprising diagnosis for a student struggling with disorganization and distraction.
By Chris Colin
Delicate parents, peer not into Tim Campbell's backpack.
Somewhere along the way, the 13-year-old eighth-grader from Connecticut developed a habit whose roots are complex but whose consequences couldn't be clearer: utter disorganization. At its worst, Tim is as likely to produce his evening's homework assignments — forget about a finished product — as to recite War and Peace.
"It was late in seventh grade that I started noticing a pattern where I could never find anything," he says. "I'd always have papers scattered everywhere in my backpack and never knew where anything was. I wasn't getting my work in, and I started getting worse grades."
To hear his mother describe it, this isn't a case where the student loses his homework because secretly it's too hard. Tim's problems didn't seem to be about comprehension — somehow they orbited exclusively around the more practical aspects of schoolwork: taking note of his assignments, bringing home the necessary material, and going through the concrete steps of getting them done.
"We gave him folders, but he wasn't using them," Tim's mother says. “And he would lose things. He wasn't writing down his assignments, so we wouldn't even know about them until they were late."
Like so many homework problems, Tim's snowballed. What might have been a containable issue mushroomed until he felt wholly overwhelmed — the prospect of ever catching up on old assignments seemed impossible. Soon D's began appearing on his report card. Meanwhile, efforts by Tim's parents only seemed to make things tenser.
"Sometimes I'd take things out of his book bag and have him put them back neatly. But he'd just get upset. He'd say he has his own way," his mother says.
Indeed, he did have his own way — it just wasn't one that worked in the context of middle school. So says Marc Hoffman, the academic coach Tim's family hired to work with their son. His organization, Hoffman Education Group, offers something beyond subject-specific tutoring: a broader look at how to approach schoolwork more effectively. What Hoffman found — which was confirmed by tests Tim took — is that the disorganization problem was rooted in what psychologists call executive functioning.
"In layman's terms, this means understanding the steps necessary to complete a task. It involves planning — a child with executive functioning issues doesn't understand how to estimate how much time it will take to do an assignment, or what the steps are in, say, writing a paper," Hoffman explains. "'Write a paper about Ben Franklin.' The dilemma would be, Is it supposed to be a biography? Or a thesis-driven paper? What exactly is the teacher asking for? These questions then lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed: How am I going to get this written down?"
Sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you
more just like it every week.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.