My 13 Yr Old Is Not Turning in Homework!!

Updated on October 07, 2010
A.S. asks from Albertville, MN
35 answers

Moms, I need some advice!!! My 13 yr old son, in 8th grade, has (already 2 times this year) had missing assingments in different classes. I am so frustrated by this because his school provides planners for the kids every year but he refuses to use it. I don't want to have to be the parent who goes onto the school website everyday to find out what homework he has to get done but I'm willing to and I'm about at that point. I want to trust that he is telling me the truth when he says, "I don't have any homework" or "It's done".
Should I not be checking to see if he is turning in his assignments? When I was in school my parents didn't have the option to check in on me until mid-term or report card time. I am sure I slacked off at some point without getting "busted" because I would get caught up before "report" time. What would you do? Do you think I should just trust him and not worry about it until report time or should I be checking and making sure he gets it done?
Little about my son, he is in football and according to him he forgets about the stuff that needs to be turned in but he says he needs to figure it out on his own. He also said he was going to try to get A's all year so he could get a PS3. Whoops!

Thanks in advance for your advice!!!

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answers from Grand Rapids on

My Grandma watched us as kids, and my brother tried this around the same time. She ended up holding his hand into class for about a week because he wasn't being responsible enough to hand in his homework and "acting like an elementary kid". About a week of that and he started handing in his homework. Then even if he tried all she had to do is ask if he needed his hand held. She was a GREAT lady.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

Maybe get him a folder to put all his homework in when he gets done with it and remind him to put it in his backpack That way you know it's at least getting to school.

Gently remind him that if he doesn't pass his classes he doesn't play football.

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answers from Dallas on

Just my two cents, but I think it would be awesome if you would help him (work together) on coming up with a system that will keep him on track. Not in a nagging sort of way, but more as a team effort. As the parent, it is your "job" to help your child learn skills that will help him succeed in life.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My son is 12 and in 7th grade. He was forgetting to turn things in so I "forgot" to take him to his afterschool activities. After a week of missing his afterschool activites, his memory has improved. It is all about priorities and he needed to learn what comes first-schoolwork. We also put all of his homework into one folder that he keeps with the assignment book. That way, it is all together. You could also try contacting the guidance counselor for him. They have alot of good tools usually. Good luck to you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Not alone! I have a 13yo daughter in 8th grade...when she started Jr. high, I would go onto the website to check hm and correspond w/teachers via email and such. But...this year, I told her I was not going to do that because she will be in High School next year and she needs to learn to be more responsible as the teachers will not baby them. Her grades will be her grade, whether I like them or not. I tell her that it has to mean something to her because it benefits/affect her future not ours. She's in band and volleyball, so if she doesn't keep her grades up that can affect her being able to play. It's hard to let go and let them make mistakes, but I understand we can't continue to following behind them forever making sure that they are doing what they should. It's hard to know when to let go!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

A couple of things.. First of all 8th grade is still a safe place for HIM to fail this 6 wks grade period.

If you think YOU can handle this.. Call his teachers AND Coach and let them know you are going to allow your son to fail so he can have this wake up call . That you want to he Teachers and the Coach to let your son suffer the natural consequences.

If your son can experience the awful grade, not being able to play on the field during games.. he may finally realize this is not moms job to chase down the homework for him.. The HE is is charge of his grades.

My nephew is now a Sophomore in High School was going to be the Quarterback on the Varsity team this fall (he now is out for a fractured shoulder). Last year he was the Quarterback for the JV team and one 6 weeks failed a class and got pulled till he could bring his grades up.. EVERYBODY knew his business, when he could not suit up for a game.. He could not even sit on the bench. "No Pass no Play" would not allow him to be on the field at the games.

He was pretty embarrassed and got his act together real quick.. He did make up work. The head coach (Coach is a calculus Trig teacher by trade) sat down with him to work on organization (I am also sure had a "conversation" with him) and this year, nephew is doing a lot better.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it needs to be a combination of you checking/reminding and then he suffers the consequences if he "chooses" not to do/hand in his work. Easy to say, tough to do I know.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I tend to agree with Regina. You should work together to find a solution and each be expected to hold up your end of the bargain. In addition, just because he has a planner doesn't mean he knows how to use it. Schools hand these out and teachers ask that students use them with very little instruction over why they are useful and how to make them useful. Teach him by showing him how you use your planner to keep your "to dos" organized. In our house we keep a large dry erase calendar on the wall with family appointments and individual obligations that we all need to be aware of as well as homework assignments and project due dates. The kids have been putting things on the calendar since before they could write (telling me what important thing we all needed to look forward to). Make time to look over your schedule and deadlines for the week each day and let your son do the same with you.

You did not indicate whether or not your son plays football at school or with an outside league. If it is at school, the coaches can be an excellent resource for keeping kids on track. Talk to his football coach about your concerns. They are usually more than happy to give your child a little extra encouragement (consequences) to keep them on track. I disagree with the responses that encourage you to take your son out of sports for having difficulty following through at school. Often, athletics provide an otherwise disinterested student a reason to "buy in" and stick with school. Athletes have a lower drop out rate and tend to be better students and more involved in positive campus activities. Same goes for involvement in any extra curricular activities (fine arts, band, choir etc.). I teach high school and see evidence of this everyday.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Allentown on

I have a responsible 11 year old who HATES homework. She does hand it in though. Because she hates homework Im ake it a point to check the school website to see what homework she has. That way when I ask her I already know. Not doind homework is not an option in my home. I think it is ok for you to check his school website until he gets on the ball of things. Another option is NO Football until he takes homework as serious as he does football. I would check until he proves himself. Or you can check without him knowing give him the benefit of the doubt. But if you realize that is not working step up and let him know you have been checking and what he is doing is unacceptable. Hope this helps Bonnie

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I would check in the short run - sort of a "trust but verify" situation. I also think you have to figure out if he is really forgetting or if he's just making that up. "I don't have homework" could be forgetting. "I did it" is either true or not true, not a mistake.

Then, make it very clear that if he is too young to remember his responsibilities, he is too young for the privileges that go to a 13 year old. Don't make it all about a long-range goal like a PS3. Make it about short-term privileges, like TV or computer or whatever. You absolutely have to tie his responsibilities to his luxuries. Remind him that he has one job - that is to get an education, and to have a great time doing it. Teach him that he will earn far more privileges in less time than he spends lying or making excuses or "forgetting."

You will not regret reminding your 13 year old that you are in charge. When he is 16 and even more rebellious, you'll be glad you asserted yourself!

If you think it would work to "forget" to do things too, fine. Forget to do his laundry, pack his lunch, etc. Or, since he says his homework is "done" then give him things to fill his time. "Oh great, then you have time to vacuum the family room and clean the toilets." See if his memory improves or he rededicates himself to homework.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Drives us crazy, doesn't it?

my daughter doesn't use the planner, so she came up with a plan to use a piece of paper for her assignments that she can use as a bookmark (she reads a lot). We haven't been perfectly successful yet, but we are modifying the plan as we go so she can come up with something that works for her. I am checking the websites, but not nagging, except we look at it together and we made a list to talk to her teachers, when she was quite off - she said she turned some in that were listed as zero so I told her she had to talk to her teachers or she could not go to the dance and gave her a list that the teacher had to sign off, so I could confirm that she had done it. Going into high school next year, I think it's important for her to be able to talk to her teachers.

I tried to simplify things this year. The kids have 4 things to do when they get home that are required - homework, one chore daily (I came up with a master plan for getting the work done during the week), music, and exercise (they both do water polo/swimming, so that one is easy). I posted the master plan so they can check it daily.

This time frame (middle school) is really hard, I think, no matter what we do. He does need to figure it out in a way that works for him. With my son, we are probably going to let him use an electronic planner - he will be excited by that and actually use it. You have to talk to the tecahers, though. I actually set an alarm for my daughter on her phone to remind her to talk to her teachers.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Football is an extra, If he can not get his work in then football is out- talk to him about what is important to him. Then explain that school is important and ask him how he plans to get his work done- Let him have his input as if he makes the plan and is he sucedes then you both win. However if he fails then it is like a natural consqence and he had a chance to get it done. People (even teens) eventually learn from their mistakes. It part of growing up. Let him know when he does a good job and when he doesn't encourage
him to do better. He will need to know that inspite of his mistakes you support him. Best wishes!

as pre teens need that extra encouragement

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Davenport on

Should you be checking the website? YES, YES YES! That is what it is for. I understand that you want to teach him to be responsible on his own. But he is still a child. Checking the website doesn't mean that you have to nag at him everyday to do his homework. When you slacked as a child, do you really think that you retained anything from the class by catching up at the last minute (probably by doing extra credit)? Obviously, football is more important than his classes (no surprise). Maybe the PS3 can be a reward at the end of the year if he gets all A's AND turns in all his homework!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Here's an underlying factor you need to know: Around 8th grade, boys learn that it's not cool to do homework or be smart. In co-ed schools, adolescents think that boys are supposed to be cool and that girls are supposed to be the hard workers. Boys are not girls--most boys have no interest in making YOU happy by complying with your (or the teachers') demands.

You may want to look into going to an all-boys' school. When girls are removed, then boys who score high grades are not seen as "girly." Nothing devastates a boy more than to be seen as girlish.

Get some advice from a male counselor. I'm guessing that 99% of people who give advice on Mamapedia have no experience being a 13-year-old boy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son is 11 and we are having this issue in 1 specific class. I took away the computer and TV from him last night. His teacher has been willing to work with him but he never will approach her. I told him until he corrects the situation he will remain without these privileges and possibly more if it continues. He was not happy at all about it, but he was given fair warning and this morning was able to tell me what is game plan was. We'll see this evening if he follows through.

I am not sure what it is about boys but out of 2 boys and 1 girl...the boys have been the worst about this.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I teach 8th grade...I know how you feel! It's frustrating and you shouldn't have to "hold their hands" especially when they are preparing for high school!

Maybe your son isn't a planner guy...he just might need a different system. Maybe he would do better if he used Post-Its to put in his locker or on something that he always takes home with him and then at the end of the day get in the habit of putting the Post-Its in his pocket when he leaves...or (at the end of the day) calling his cell phone and giving himself a reminder of what he needs to do that night for homework.

Especially being that he plays football, he really needs to practice time management--he might be able to slide by with missing work and possibly lower grades due to missing work this year, but in high school that will definitely change--missing work or low gpa=no playing or practicing. Maybe he needs to miss a practice or two, which could result in loss of playing time for him to learn his lesson now and not next year.

He'll figure it is a hard age for all the boys! And you're not alone...but you are absolutely right about not wanting to hold his hand and keep checking up on him and/or the daily assignments. He needs to be held responsible for his lack of organization and forgetfulness! It will all work out :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I have the same age boy and the same problem. No matter if I check up on him or not, he still doesn't remember to turn in all his homework. It really effects his grades.
I've talked to him, I've left it up to him, I've gotten him totally organized and then it only lasts a week, I've taken things away, and I have not found a solution that works. My son is smart, he just doesn't seem to care that much. He seems to like to work under pressure rather than do the daily grind. Maybe that will be the key to their success in life (it's just not so great for school) Hopefully our sons will find what works for them. Sorry that I don't have a solution, but you are not alone.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reno on

Tie privileges, including sports, to his having his planner filled out AND SIGNED by the teacher. That way you know if the 25 days of "no hw" in every class is accurate. If he fails to do this, he earns no privileges but lots of household and yard chores. If he's really fussy about it, pull him out of football.

Does your school offer online grade programs whereby parents can check their student's grades? If so, make sure you check it daily and confer about what you see with your son. Don't hesitate to verify his answers to your questions with the teacher.

Trust but verify. Actions speak louder than words and his actions suggest he needs a push to learn how to behave responsibly in an academic setting. If he thinks 8th grade is hard, 9th grade is worse and if he doesn't pass his 9th grade classes, he may not pass his exit exams, his classes or even graduate. Do I sound shrill and alarmist? It's probably because I've watched way too many freshmen "crash and burn" because they didn't master good "student skills" in grades K-8. If he's bright enough to master the plays for football and remember all his gear for practice, he's bright enough to remember to fill out his planner and turn in his assignments.

And, yes, I do all of this with my jr. high aged son. Sixth grade was pretty bad, but 7th grade is going so much better. Last year, he didn't get to join the ski team or the track team because his grades weren't up to par. This year, 7th grade, he's done so much better because we've pounded the planner/turn-in-your-work bit. He might just pull off the grades to try out for basketball, ski this winter and play soccer in spring.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Let me know when you figure it out. I have a 12 yr old 7th grader just like that. Except he doesn't say he needs to figure it out on his own. He just says he doesn't mean to, and just forgets or loses it. Or some other excuse (I turned it in late and she hasn't put it in the computer yet, or some such). Only our school website doesn't give homework assignments, only grades. So I don't know anything is due until the grade (the zero) is recorded or shows up as missing.

None of his teachers this year actually keep a website with what is going on in class. And really, like you, they shouldn't need to. We didn't have that when I was a kid, and I NEVER forgot to turn in an assignment or lost one. Seriously. My daughter is just like me too. She's only 9 but I don't even need to ask her about schoolwork, because she already has stuff done and worries if she thinks she might have forgotten something (even if it isn't due yet).

Very frustrating.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from McAllen on

The smartest thing that I heard one set of parents do is require homework every evening---even if their student says he/she has none. For 30 minutes to an hour or so, your son/daughter HAS homework every night. If it isn't a written assignment in math or another subject, the student would have to bring a book home to read. If no book, you can have them look up and define 10 new vocabulary words from a dictionary or the internet.

Also, some educational internet sites have work that you can assign. All of us watch too much TV or use the internet for purely entertainment purposes, so an assignment for a time would be educational. Let your student choose his/her favorite time since some children prefer to complete homework right after school; others prefer 7 p.m.

You should definitely be checking daily until you can be sure that you trust him. Of course, he needs to figure it out himself, but he has to prove it to you that he has.

I wish I had thought of this when our underachieving son was in elementary school. He finally got his college degree!

I too would require a planner, or he could not use the computer, watch TV, or talk on the phone. Also, it's a good idea if he wants something or to do something, set up a program whereby he could earn it. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Make him show you his homework when he gets home from school or after dinner. If he doesn't bring it home, he loses his tv time or video/computer game time for the night; he's thirteen, he needs to get his stuff in order and do what he's told. Also, you can request that his teacher do progress reports before report cards where he or she sends you a weekly log of homework turned in. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Questions to ask him: Does he understand the homework? Is he being challenged by the work? Is he overwhelmed with his schedule? Speak with him first, hear him out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sioux Falls on

Let him be responsible, but assist as he will let you.

He wants to be responsible for his grades/school work, let him.
You can ask him about anything that needs to be done, get his answer, and find out it is wrong (no done) two days later.

Since it wasn't done, his eligibility to play should be compromised due to natural consequences. He still has to practice, but maybe miss the next game.

You can try to assist by lookin gin his planner and adding a few things on your own.

Lunch date with you on a Saurday for not missing any homework assignments that week.
Movie purchase on Friday for notes in his planner that are legible and homework completed. (this way you can read what he is suppose to do and not have to complain that you can't read his writing.
Special breakfast one week.

You can tell him that these things will be added to his planner. Now his planner is a tool you both use.
You can even write good job or nice game or other positive things for him.

If you work the planner as a team thing, it doesn't look so much like nagging.

By the way
I have a son in the 8th grade also.
His planner is similar. :)

I also have and overachiever for a daughter.
Thing is
this is about your son. Renmeber to work with him as it works for the two of you, not how it worked with a different sibling. We all have our own way of thinking, remembering, and processing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I say at 13 they can make their own decisions about homework. He will have to suffer the consequences. I haven't checked my daughters homework since 3rd grade. If she chooses not to do it she gets the bad grade....I have 3 kids and I tell them all they don't have to do their homework. They just have to explain to the teacher why they don't have it. I started that in Kindergarten. Most of my friends still struggle with homework, but they constantly badger their kids to do it. Better they learn consequences now than when they are on their own.

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answers from Omaha on

2 assignments this year? Count yourself lucky, honestly- my son started not completing assignments- or completeing but not turning in assignments in the 1st grade- it has been a struggle for 4 years now- but gets better- or seems to get better every year. I would suggest looking into it- so you know what's going on- but let him handle it & if he can't- then he pays the consequences of poor grades and no ps3.



answers from San Francisco on

Easy answer, ask your 13 year old if he would like to remain in football. In addition yes, you need to check his work and planners because he has proven that you can't trust him or at least trust his memory.

If he doesn't get on track in the next two weeks, yank his behind from the team.




answers from Madison on

School and all that goes along with it should be first priority. I tell my kids that that is their job and they should treat it accordingly (explain what happens to you at work if you don't turn in your projects). Sports are second and should be treated as a privilege and not allowed unless school work is completed on time and efficiently. Period.



answers from Des Moines on

I would think that this might subside after football season. I can understand how a sport might be crowding his brain right now. Give him the tools he needs to keep track of his assignments (planners, calendars, lists, whatever will work for him) And then let him take care of it. Give him a trial run and tell him that you'll be checking in every couple of weeks to make sure he's on top of it. If he's not, then let him know that you will be checking his assignments every night.

But ultimately if Football makes his school work suffer than football has to go. That ought to motivate him real quick. He's old enough to realize that sometimes you need to do what you have to do in order to do what you want to do. Let him know that you are serious and trusting him to pull it together. Also let him know that you are there for him to help in anyway he desires. A third option would be hiring a study coach (sylvan learning center) to help him get a plan together for assignments and homework. They can teach valuable skills that will help him throughout college.

BTW a couple of C's in 8th grade will not affect anything life long. Don't let him know this but you can relax a little.



answers from Omaha on

If he isn't passing in homework take everything away or limit his time on anything. I wouldn't let on the computer at all, if he has his own I would take it away and if he needs it strictly for homework I would be right beside him. He's obviously, in my opinion, broken the trust at this moment and he needs to be handing in his assignments. If it was my daughter I would make sure she was passing her homework in or I would take everything away. He shouldn't be awarded for something that he doesn't do.

And it'll keep him focused because quite frankly, he's going into high school. Slacking isn't much of an option because high school is the doorway to college and I slacked off in high school and I'm struggling in college.



answers from Milwaukee on

It is very frustrating when your kids give you the run around. My daughter will wait unitl the last minute and tell me on Sunday she has a 10 page report due. I have talked to her teacher and he now sends me home things to sign such as.. "Your child did not complete such and such an assignment..." so I have some idea of what she is not doing. Every week I have to check to see if she has something due. She cannot do sports or go by friends houses til all of her work is finished. Last year I had several parents ask me how my daughter was doing on her report. I would often say "What report?" This year the teacher and I have better communication and so far so good.



answers from Atlanta on

Ummm -he's 13 and he's violated your trust already by not turning in required assignments. Tell him if he wants to keep playing football (much less get a PS3), then he has to keep up with the planner and turn in all assignments. Until that happens consistently over at least a month, you will be checking online to see what his homework is every day. YES, you should be checking to make sure he gets it done! If he is consistent with doing what you ask, then you can back off, but he needs to understand that if he makes the choice to lie and not do his homework, not only will his grades reflect it, but he will not be doing and getting things he wants.



answers from Milwaukee on

I will make him bring home a progress report every day with a list of his homework each teacher sighn off that he turned nd home work evertyme they recive his homework nd you sighn off every tyme you check his homework .we have to remeber education is the key to life.



answers from Harrisburg on

My nephew had the same problem, and my sister organized his binder by teacher/dates and put them in one of those sheet protectors and he was able to go right to the one due that day and take it out. Boys seem to not be naturally organized, so that seem to help him.



answers from Minneapolis on

Is the homework he's not doing, typically in the same subject(s)? There also may be coorelation with your situation going on -- not doing the homework for it, because he does not enjoy the subject. Or, maybe he does not like or connect well with the teacher at all. He needs to find the reason behind not doing homework and figure out a plan that will help him get it way or another. Sometimes we have to think out of the box! If he doesn't understand the subject, you could suggest he buddy up with a friend after school to work on it. If he doesn't understand the subject matter...then it reallly will always be hard to complete homework on time. Is the teacher giving him time to write homework assignments even down? Some teachers, tend to 'speed teach'....and the kids get seconds to write homework assignments down. Maybe getting another person's teaching skills on the subject...will help. Or, maybe help him out by getting a tutor, specific to that subject? If he's having a personality clash with his would be super helpful to then find someone (tutor, friend, etc) with a positive personality to get him thinking more positive about the subject matter again. OR ... is it a matter that he's sitting by buddies that distract him from getting his homework stuff accomplished...have the teacher move them apart or have him put by kids that are better role models. Specifically, find out what his 'hold up' in in completing the homework assignments. There is always a reason behind this happening! This is indicative of an avoidance technique...some shape or other. And its just a matter of figuring it out...and then the kids need to learn this about themeselves. Sometimes the kids get stuck though and need to be pointed them in the right path to get past the road block... Homework still has got to get done though! Not doing homework is a signal or a cry out for help -- they need 'something' so they can stop procrastinating.

My son is younger, but we were encountering the same thing. Our son started hating to write and read. After talking quite a bit to him...and knowing his personality. First, he had too many distractions in the classroom...tended to have squirrely kids in the classroom. Figured out a way to fix that. Then, we quickly realized that its been a simple case of not connecting with the teacher. The teaching style did not reach him. He never felt like he was a good enough for the teacher in the class, etc. We know he is a smart boy...but we enlisted the help of a tutor anyway (part-time teacher that also tutored). Specifically sought out a much more charasmatic, up-beat personality....someone that was able to put a fun, positive spin on the subject matter. And obviously also someone that could get him caught up from all that he's missed out on in class previously. Nice otpion for this too, because tutoring is devoted one-on-one time. No friends around to be distractions... He has a much more positive attitude now around the subject matter..that he previously held in such disdain. :)



answers from Las Vegas on

I would DEFINITELY be going on the website and finding out what the assignments are due and when. Forget about how you don't want to be one "the parent" who goes online each day.. The kids of "those kinds of parents" are kids who are turning in their homework. Your son already broke down the trust, now HE needs to earn it back. IF after 6 months of your going online and you see that he is NOW telling the truth, then yes... let him be, but for now... no way... I would even consider taking him out of football....In my opinion, school work ALWAYS takes precedence.... Oh sure, some might say.. "sports" will keep him well rounded and while I do enjoy sports myself, NO.. school school school... Also, don't get that Ps3 UNLESS he earns it with those A s he is talking about.. sounds to me like you need to practice a little tough love here..

best of luck

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