My Smart 11 Year Old Boy Won't Do His Homework

Updated on March 28, 2008
K.M. asks from Anaheim, CA
6 answers

My son is in 5th grade, is very smart, gets A's on tests, raises his hand to participate frequently in class and has the right answers most of the time, yet, when he gets home, he won't do his homework. We have dealt with this for the last 3 1/2 years and have come to our wits end. We have talked to the teachers & the principal, have researched on the internet, and still cannot find a solution to getting him to do his homework. He is even lying about what he has to do now, and even when he does do it, he doesn't turn it in to the teacher. He is currently working on his State Report and has very little done. I took him to the Cerritos Library yesterday and pulled some books off the shelf with him. He went through the books while I did some research for my college essay. In the end, he hadn't written anything down. We went to another library to check out books (Cerritos charges $100 for membership if you don't live in specific areas) and I'm going to have to sit with him today to get him to do the work. Can anyone give me some help in getting him to do his homework? We've tried rewards, punishments, etc., and nothing seems to work.

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So What Happened?

Thank you to all who responded. I am doing an essay in my own English class on the topic of Homework because the subject with my son is so near and dear to me. As it stands, I have talked further with his teacher about his homework troubles and we have decided to change them. He will still be doing homework, but for math, she is giving him some pre-algebra work to try "IF" he feels he is comfortable with what she has taught for the day and feels the need to be challenged. For spelling, he still needs to do the work, but we are changing some of the rules so that he does it differently. As for the state report, we are going to try having him record some of his research findings on a small digital recorder and then he and I will work together on translating in into text and I will type up what he wants to say in his report. There isn't very much research, that I can find anyway, on statistics regarding homework and kids. It seems a good topic for study and there needs to be additional options in the elementary schools for kids so that they can continue to love the learning and not grow weary from the homework.

More Answers



answers from Reno on

I can't disagree more with the other teacher. As a sixth grade teacher, I believe homework is to practice the lessons from school AND to teach these children responsibility. As a college student, you know the responsibility to write down assignments, work on them, complete them and turn them in. A state report does not sound like a repetitive, boring assignment. That sounds like something a bright student could use to do something very special. I would say someone needs to sit with your child daily right after school and work on the work until it is finished. Then, you need to help you child organize the work so it can be easily found and turned in. If this still doesn't get the job done, one of you needs to make a commitment to continue the organization and walk him to school daily and turn in the work. I've done that to students and believe me, mommy and daddy coming into the classroom is enough to motivate most 10-year-olds to take care of themselves.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.,

If your husband is home, why doesn't he sit at the kitchen table each day with his son? (I don't know if the injury is a brain injury, so I hope I'm not saying the wrong thing) You sometimes have to participate to show him your support. Make sure this is done right after school ever day, do not let him on the computer, watch TV etc. Also let him know how important school is. All the people he sees on TV, lawyers, Doctors, the President, also most actors, let him know that they all went to school and did their work and that it's really cool to be smart. Have him get all his books out. Go through each subject. Find out what needs to be done. Show him how to set up his work, organize and study. Give him a little help, a few ideas etc. Make up stories, anything to make it more interesting and fun. You can do this with math, science, English, history etc... It's amazing how much you learn from all of this!!! You have to take the time, even though you are tired and would like to relax, it can be fun, and believe me they know if you are not willing to do this and they will play on it and be gone, and if you give up they give up.
Another idea is to have a small notebook that he or the teacher can write down his homework every day. Make sure that you sign the page when he's finished and have him hand it in, if the teacher is a good teacher have her or him make sure it is looked at every day and have them sign off on it and make a note so you can see what's going on.. This way you or your husband know exactly what he needs to do
He's going into middle school next year, as is my younger one. So you better nip it in the bud now.
Good luck!




answers from Los Angeles on

I was having the same problem with my 8 year old and was given the advice to hire a tutor/mentor from the local college. I sent out an e-mail to the local college which happens to be UCLA and got a great response. Our tutor is young, energetic, excited to be around my daughter and happy to have the extra a result my daughter finds joy in working with her to complete her assignments and actually looks forward to seeing her!! It's affordable to hire a college student and so rewarding for my daughter. I usually encourage some "non-homework" time, too, where they can just enjoy each other.



answers from Las Vegas on

I totally agree with Anjel. What's important is that he is learning--not how much homework he is doing. My 10 yr old goes to a school that rarely gives homework because they have small classes and get a lot done in class. He is ADD as are most in his class (only 9 students). He is reading at an 8th grade level and is very bright and creative. Because he is not forced to do busy work every night, he loves special projects and gets so much from them.
You will probably have a battle in traditional schools though.
It also occurs to me that maybe the attention he is getting for not doing the work is what is driving this. Has he always been reluctant to do homework or is this something that has started recently? You are busy so maybe it's his way of getting your attention. And believe me, I totally understand that you are working and going to school and need to do that.
Best of luck to you!!



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.,
I agree with the teacher, he is probably bored. I was sooo that way in school. In reality (and I say this humbly here to make the point) I am brilliant. Homework was repetitive, and even stupid to me sometimes.

The other thing is, if he is really smart as well, and has any ADD (you did not say) then he may need a noisy environment vs. quiet for homework or it is REALLY aweful. I remember taking hours and hours to do my homework (easy homework) as I got so easily distracted. I learned as an adult writing my first book I had ADD. Just listening to my Ipod as I worked made all the difference in being able to focus. Sometimes children are forced to do the work in silence, the kiss of death for a true ADD child. Inability to prioritize & focus can be traits.

If he must do his homework, then I would make it fun. Give him assigned times, then let him have a fun break then back to homework again. Or, set a timer & let him see if he can beat it (still do "fun" breaks.) You might even sit down with him sometimes. Reward his honesty (whether or not he has completed the homework) since you have that problem with him now. Explain why it's a problem since it dilutes trust (he is smart, he will get it.)

Having said all that, I still turned out very well. I own my own business & have a presence around the world. ( ) All that and I still didn't do all my homework!!




answers from San Diego on

As a teacher, this might sound like I'm giving weird advice...
But why does he have to?!?
Think about it.
He's getting by just great without out homework. It is nothing but a hindernance, NOT a help
and my guess is he s bored - because it's too easy, unsocial, or repetitive.

I would not worry about his academics. I would however be concerned that he is now lying due to the stress of this, so honestly - I think it is not worth it.

If his grades drop (tell him) he is SO doing homework.


Can you maybe get the teachers on your side with that?

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