Lesson Tutor: Homework hints and tips: The Dog Ate My Homework

Homework Help: The Dog Ate My Homework!
by Katherine West

Does your son or daughter have problems turning in homework on time? Is every night a chore? Do you pull your hair out when trying to help your child do school assignments? Do you get notes from little Johnny or Sally’s teacher complaining about sloppy handwriting, daydreaming, or fidgeting in his or her seat? Here are some creative tips, innovative strategies, and commons sense approaches to one of today’s biggest problems- homework. With teachers giving more homework than ever, we really must be armed for the task!

Homework Help:

How can I teach my student good study skills?

1. As young as nine or ten, your child should begin keeping an assignment book. In this book, the child needs to write each and every assignment given by his or her teachers. By instilling this habit into your child’s daily routine, he or she will learn to be much more responsible. Less homework assignments will be lost or forgotten, and a good habit has been formed when you employ this technique. Be sure to make very specific rules about missing assignments. Also be firm and clear on the punishment that a child will face as a consequence of his or her missing an assignment.

2. Your child and you need to decide on a place that is conducive to study. This should be a quiet place that is well-lit and free from distractions. Once you have decided on a place to study, this should be the only place that your child does his or her homework and studies. There should also be a very specific time for homework to be done. Usually, as soon as the child gets home from school is the time for the homework to be done. This also goes for the kids who are involved in after school activities. Of course, it is a good idea to allow your child the opportunity to have a healthy snack before the work begins.

My child forgets his or her assignments, books, hats, gloves, and even coats at school! How can I help make my ADD/ADHD child’s memory sharper?

1. This is a very common problem with ADD/ADHD kids. For duties or other things that you want your child to do, give your child a very short instruction. Make them repeat it back to you. Give the instruction several times, reinforcing the memory.

2. For schoolwork, have the child write down each every homework assignment, including reading assignments. Even have them write down the page numbers and reminders to bring the book home.

3. Get the child used to using a highlighter not only for homework instructions, but also for use in the assignment notebook.

4. I still have no foolproof way of insuring that my child does not lose her gloves, hats, and other personal items. The best thing that I can tell you is to teach them to keep specific items in a specific place. Her gloves go in the coat pocket. The hat goes in the sleeve. Her coat gets put in the locker. Good luck with this! I recall visiting the lost and found area weekly when Caitlin was very young. (kindergarten – 3rd grade)

5. Another great idea is to have your child keep a journal. This not only helps the child to remember things, but also write down thoughts and feelings. By writing things in a journal, your child will become much more adept at writing as well.

Getting the Homework Done:

1. The first thing to remember about homework is that it needs to be done as soon as the child gets home from school. If the child is on medication this is especially important. Since many parents do not give evening doses to help the child sleep at night, the homework MUST be done first. If the child has after school activities, the homework should be done as soon as they get home. It is fine to allow for a snack break and also to allow for stretching breaks. ADD-ADHD kids really need these little breaks.

2. Also remember that it is the child’s responsibility to do his or her homework. Some children tend to depend on Mom and Dad for a roadmap. I try to let them struggle with it first. Chinese psychologists have found that this is the reason that Asian countries do well in math and science testing than American countries. They put the work up on the board and just let them struggle with it! By doing this, they get a sense of accomplishment from mastering the material.

3. After allowing them to struggle with the material for a bit, it is a good idea to ask them questions about the material. Perhaps this will jog memories and help them to help themselves. If this doesn’t work, you might want to ask them questions that are usually provided in the back of the book or guide them to pages where the formula is if it is a science or math problem.

4. Keep tabs on your child while he or she is doing homework. If they are looking away, ask them to continue working. Setting time limits often helps with this. You can have short, productive sessions at each sitting. An egg timer or oven timer is great for this! Talk with your child and decide on a fair amount of time that is age appropriate. 10-15 minutes is good for a child that’s age 6-8. A time of 20-30 minutes is about right for a child age 9-12. Kids can achieve 30-45 minute intervals of study at age 13-15. This, of course, depends on your child’s abilities to concentrate and stay on task.

What ideas can I use to help my child write better?

Boy do I have ideas on this topic! My oldest has so much trouble with writing, so we developed a few creative approaches. She is a beautiful song and story writer when she does these simple things:

1. If your child has problems with written expression, allow them to use a tape recorder to record ideas and stories. Later they can play the tape, and write everything down. This makes writing so much easier for a verbal child.

2. If you have a computer, and you do if you are reading this article, then allow your child to type out his or her homework. Since many children, not just ADD kids, view this as more fun, they get their writing assignments done much quicker! Since many kids are very visual, this is also a great idea for helping them to retain the info longer.

3. You can also foster your child’s love for writing by encouraging and purchasing them a diary or journal. This is possibly the best gift that you can give them.

My child studies the material, but forgets it when it is test time. Help!

This is something that my daughter does too. She is so smart, and this is the most frustrating thing for me. We study something, and then she is unable to retrieve the information when she is under stress, during the test.

Test Tips:

1. Use flashcards
These give the child visual clues, and hasten the retrieval time for memories.

2. Space your study sessions out

This means that you should study a small amount every day in each subject. This helps the child from falling behind.

3. Study and do homework in the same place everyday. Make sure this place is well-lit and free from distractions.

4. Using Mnemonic devices

A mnemonic is just memory aid. I hope that word didn’t scare you. These are rhymes and acronyms that many times that help students to remember things.


“30 days hath September, April, June, and November…”
“I before E accept after C”

You can also create your own. In the future, look for other articles on mnemonics and test-taking strategies.

In later issues, there will be much more about homework help, so subscribe by clicking the banner at the top of this article. I will explore the newest controversy with ADD-ADHD in my next article. Investigating the link between immunizations and this disorder I hope that these tips will help homework time go better for you today and every day! -Kat

Here are a few of my other articles on Education and ADD/ADHD:

Classroom Tips for Your ADD Child
The Positive Side of ADD
26 Positive Things about ADD and 46 Famous People With ADD
This is a great list of all the best attributes of ADD people. This article also includes a list of famous people like Einstein and Edison who were ADD!
*This is a perfect gift for a unresponsive teacher*

Living with ADD/ADHD 

10 Steps to Higher Grades for Your ADD Child
**A Note From the Author

If your child experiences more problems with school, emotional issues, or increasing problems with peers, psychological counseling may be needed. Therapy can do a world of good for any child with a learning disability, even if the child is not having additional problems. I highly recommend that ALL children with ADD/ADHD have some form of psychological counseling. At least have the child evaluated by a psychologist and then go from there. Too many people are only concerned with what “other people” will think. Some people do not want anyone to think that there is something “wrong” with their child, so they resist psychological help. Please, keep your child’s best interest in mind! Attention Deficit Disorder is a neurological and psychological problem. If your child has any of the above symptoms, please get help.

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