Should a 4Th Grader Know to Just Do Homework, or Should They Need Reminded?

Updated on February 14, 2013
M.B. asks from Colorado Springs, CO
35 answers

Do you have to manage your child's homework in 4th grade? I feel like if I don't tell my 9 yr old over and over again he won't do his homework at all. Is this normal? When should I stop reminding and let him figure out that its HIS responsibility?

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answers from Hartford on

They need to be reminded. He's normal. It's his responsibility but you SHOULD be reminding him. It's part of parenting. He's ONLY 9 years old.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

They need to be reminded. According to the personality, a child may always need to be reminded.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

Yes-it is normal-he's waiting for you to let up-so don't. Of my five children-the middle child was the toughest-I rode him like Seattle Slew-he 's in grad school now! Hang in there!

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

We're talking fourth grade here, not middle school.

He is still "learning how to learn." Telling a child "Do your homework" is like saying "Clean up your room" -- it can be overwhelming: "Where do I start? What should come first? It's too much, I can't do it all, I'll give up!"

By fourth grade in my daughter's school every child was given a daily "diary" book at the start of the year. At the end of each class day, there was a specific time, a few minutes where EVERY child together sat down and recorded their homework in that notebook and then gathered what was needed for that night. If your school does not provide such a journal, get your child one and work with him on using it. Then he has a written reference for what he needs to do and when it's due. (My daughter is in 6th now and they still get school-provided journals designed just for keeping track of homework -- your school really should try it. And the teachers prefer it too.) Some elementary schools also use online "Blackboard" types of systems where all homework is posted. If your son's teachers use one for his grade, teach him how to get on it and check assignments (they may not be doing it for kids as young as fourth).

Set aside a specific time and place daily for homework. Don't be random about it. Give him time after school for a snack and if needed, a FEW minutes to blow off steam, but don't let it linger. I find that waiting until after dinner is the kiss of death to homework for younger kids; they lose all focus. Set a timer if you must. Sit with him long enough to review: What is due tomorrow? What is due day after tomorrow? What day is that test this week? Ensure he has what he needs then leave him and check in -- maybe 10 minutes later; as he gets better at doing homework, you'll be able to wait longer. I would avoid doing it in his room or a playroom or anywhere very interesting or where there are toys within reach; that's why many folks use the dining room or kitchen tables for homework. If you need to, sit near him reading or doing a (quiet, sitting) chore like paying bills. Not hovering, but near enough that you know if he's not working.

Doing homework, studying for tests, doing projects over time and not procrastinating - these must be learned! They do not come automatically. Please do help him manage his homework through elementary school or he will have a hard time in middle school. Do give breaks as needed, do reward persistence and not only grades, do talk to his teachers for more tips.

Yes, you can let him fail some as others might say, but for some kids that only makes them give up. They need to be taught study skills., Why let them fail but then not ever teach them these skills so they can eventually succeed?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

It really depends. Have you been guiding your son in this area since he started school? Do you have an after school routine that includes homework? Or did you just expect that one day when he turned 9 or started 4th grade he should just know what to do and what to expect? Partially it depends on what he has been taught so far and partially it depends on the individual child's personality. My 5th grader pretty much completes assignments, studies for tests, and works on projects without reminders from me. My 7th grader has just recently gotten to that point. I still check in with both of them if they have a big test or project coming up. If your son is not doing his homework regardless of what has happened it the past, I feel it is your job to create the environment that supports him doing homework--i.e. time, space, quiet area--and have someone who is available for help if needed. If he still doesn't do it, there is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed--is it academic, social, too many other activities, too many distractions like video games? Whatever the issue is, address it now to get him on the right track for high school.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It's the parent's job to make sure that homework gets no, if I were you I would not just stop reminding him.

My 9y/o son is in 3rd grade (started K late, October b-day) and we have a set time every day to sit down and do homework. I think this is normal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

Depends on the kid. My older girl I still have to remind her to be working on long term projects and to study each night in her most challenging courses.

The little one came out of the womb with a day planner, wristwatch and a little tapping foot.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Sometimes letting them fail works, and sometimes letting them fail just lets them fail. I remember my sister complaining that she didn't think she should still have to check homework when her child was in 4th grade. She barely graduated 8 years later. I now have 2nd and 5th graders, and yes, I still remind them, I still help them manage. I was a college professor for years and worked with 18-21 year olds, and most of them have no idea how to manage their time. They never learned how. It is your job, starting now, to help them learn those skills.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My third grader comes in everyday and does his homework on his own, but I really think that's just his personality. I teach high school, and have some students that I'm sure still need to be reminded daily to do their homework. It is probably a good idea to start teaching responsibility. Good habits will serve him well later in life.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Depends on the child. My oldest son is 14 and I still have to help him manage his homework, but he has ADHD and learning disabilities. My SD (same age and grade) has never needed reminders to do homework. My younger boys are in grades 1 and 3. The first grader does his homework with no prompting, the 3rd grader knows what needs to be done but often chooses to not do it, or do it at the last minute, so I have to stay on top of him as well but his issue is attitude, not ability or forgetfulness.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My son had to be daughters didn't. My son didn't care about the consequences if he didn't do his homework. My daughters each had to stay in from recess *ONCE* to do homework (in 3rd grade, I think), learned their lesson and NEVER forgot homework again.

They're in 9th, 6th and 5th now and they ALL do their homework without being reminded. It's THEIR grade that suffers if they don't do it, not mine.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If you haven't developed a routine then he will still need reminding. If he hasn't learned study skills he'll still need help betting organized. I suggest that most 4th graders still need to be reminded and be helped to stay on track.

I suggest getting a book on helping children with homework so that you have a plan that you can teach.

I also suggest that you shouldn't have to nag. If you're nagging then take a couple of steps back and develop consequences for when he doesn't do what you've reminded him to do. Say, for example, if he's needing to be constantly reminded make it a rule that there's to be no TV or computer time (except for what's required for homework) until he's completed his homework. You'll still need to, for years to come, look over his work to see that he's understood and completed it.

Some families do homework after school and after a snack before playing. Others allow an hour or so time without homework. Others do homework while dinner is being prepared or after dinner. Have a consistent time in which he's expected to do his work. Develop a routine. Have consequences when it's not followed. Remind him to do the work but don't nag.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I have a daughter that is now in 5th grade, and is 10.

Now, from 4th grade, the Teacher's and grade level "expectations" of the students... increases. The Teachers try to get the kids more independent without as much reminding or whatnot.
BUT... the thing is, not all kids are efficient.
And, some kids just do, need reminding.
The point being, not all kids, despite age/grade, are... totally 100% fully efficient or independent.
So, the other point is, that you need to go by your child... and assist or remind or use whatever you need to do... so that... the child gets better, at it.
All of this, is gradually learned, skills.
And per the capacity for organizing themselves or not.
Not even some adult aged college kids, are... organized.
So, the expectations you have as a parent upon your 4th grade child, needs to be, according to your child's capacity for these skills or not.
Remembering, that this is not an inherent or inborn, skill or ability.
Organizing and scheduling and time-management... of oneself... requires practice, trial and error, and trying out methods for organizing onself. Of which the parent, can help.
By TEACHING the child things such as:
- getting them a desk calendar and various colored highlighter pens, to denote... their classes and due dates for assignments, on it
- teaching them, about priorities per assignments in light of the due dates.
- teaching them, about how to time-manage... and in light of the assignment due dates.
- teaching them about timelines... and gauging... how much time an assignment will take, in light of the due dates.
- teaching them, to block off, a certain time, daily... to do homework.
- providing the child, a place... to study and do homework. One that is a good study environment. ie: on a desk, somewhere quiet, with desk supplies they need to do it. Not just doing homework wherever. But in a certain, place. This also then, "cues" the child, into their homework and immediacy of it, etc.

The thing is: study habits are learned, it is not an automatic inborn skill, a child has. And a child's deductive and inductive skills... about WHICH homework to do first or last, likewise, is not an inborn skill a child is born with.
So, starting now at this age, it is good to help the child... about it all. Laying out a plan and methods, for them to best... tackle their homework.
And having the environment, to do it in.
Because... from 5th grade and up... homework intensity and type and assignments... increases. My daughter who is in 5th grade, has TONS of homework. And it will only increase, as their grade level, increases.

Think of your child, being in "practice" for the next grade. Practice good habits now, and teach him about HOW... to manage time/assignments/organization... so that, he will learn skills, about it.
Without being told or taught about how to manage MULTIPLE assignments and homework... a child will not always know how.

Sure, it is the kids responsibility.
But for me, personally... it is also a parent's responsibility... to give a child help/ideas about how to tackle it all. If the child, is not a natural at organizing or time-management.
Put it this way: many adults... take workshops or classes, JUST on organization of their daily life. Even if by now, as an adult, they should know how and be responsible for themselves, Right?
So for a 4th grader... these are not, inherent inborn automatic, skills or inclinations. Some kids can, some cannot.
Some need help. Some do not.
So, provide your child... by his cues, what he needs to then learn "successful" study habits and organization and time management.

My daughter is in 5th grade, as I said. Everyday, it is TONS of homework and staying up late. But, she is a responsible mature girl. But STILL... I have sat down with her, not nagging or putting her down... but JUST so that... I can teach her tips... for how to time-manage/study/plan her time/and about how to handle assorted projects that have a different or later due date. And, I got her a BIG desk sized calendar, office supplies for home, highlighters, paper etc., so that, it AIDS her, in all of this. I don't just expect her to know how, automatically.
All kids, can use tips and us giving them tips, on how to be more efficient. Not even some adult office workers, can do all this.
So for my daughter, I help her, when/if needed... or if I see her... sitting there looking perplexed. I will ask her.
And yes, my daughter, all the kids have a school planner that they write assignments in.
But still, a kid is not a rocket scientist.
You aid your child, per their cues.

My kids are 6 and 10.
They BOTH do homework after school. Sure, it is routine. But, as a kid gets older, the magnitude and complexity of due dates and projects and homework density, compounds. As such, PER age-stage and grade, you need to monitor how their self-ability for time management/organization/planning ahead/scheduling, is. And, teach them... about how.
Again, even some adults, can't always be so spot on, about it or about planning ahead or doing, things.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

By the time I was in the 4th grade no reminder for me...didn''t need one. In fact, I HAD to do my homework as soon as I got home. I just felt weird and just couldnt move onto anything else without doing my homework first.

My ADHD brother on the otherhand was getting reminders well into high school. Bottom line it depends on the child. If you don't want to continue to remind him he is at an age where he can start 'learning' to manage his own responsibilities. Love and Logic parents are encourage not to 'save' their kids, at what age that starts I think its truly a case by case situation. Good Luck :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

This question is exactly why kindergarten students get "homework" so they are used to getting straight up to the table and doing homework.

I would remind once. Then if homework is not complete they loose electronics the next day. Fyi electronics includes, phones, ipads, iPhones, tv's, video games etc

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We reminded the sks at that age. They just didn't automatically sit down. We used the kitchen table where we were around for help, but didn't hover or sit with them unless we were working something with them. My SS was better than my SD about homework.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I think it depends on the child. Some just can manage their time.. and others need to be reminded. My husband still needs help remembering, what he has to do for work the next day.. Of course he has an ipad, alarm, cell phone alarm, email and a watch..

Work with your son to see, what he thinks would help him remember. It may take some practice, some trial and error, to figure out a system that will work for him..

He will need this by 6th grade because if he does not already switch classrooms for different subjects, it is going to be even harder to get organized and keep up with all of the different subjects going from class to class.

Once our child was in 3rd grade, she knew that I was aware that she would have homework almost every day. So she would decide when she would actually work on it.

She also knew it was HER homework, so her job was to get it done.

She also knew if she did not do her homework or left it at home.. again, that was her problem, not mine.

I had told her that IF she felt like she needed help remembering, she just needed to let me know. If she needed supplies for projects, she needed to make sure to ask way before it was due. I was not going to drive around the night before looking for Foam Core or a special poster board..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

depends on the kid probably

my 6 year old is anal about doing her homework

when i was a kid i avoided it like the plaugue. i needed to be kept on top of but wasnt so i got straight a's and then never handed in homeworks and pulled low b's because of it. my parents J. looked at my test gradesand never questioned why my final grades didnt show the same numbers

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think you need to establish a daily routine, where he does his homework at the same time each day. Maybe he comes home, has a snack, plays for awhile, and starts homework at 4:00. Something along those lines. If it's a set part of his routine, he might be able to do it more on his own.

I do still think you should be checking it daily or weekly (depending when it's due) to make sure he's doing it correctly and completely.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My kids are in 9th and 11th grade and I still ask them daily if they have homework. I don't push them at that point, just a gentle reminder.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My "baby" is a college freshman. Last year, I'd still occasionally ask where she stood on homework completion. On the other hand, my #2 daughter was absolutely committed to doing hers as soon as she came home. Daughters 1 & 4 were different still. Depends on the kid.

Keep reminding.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I have to remind my 4th grader every day. He had a presentation this week he forgot to mention (until I got an email reminder from his teacher yesterday). He would have skipped it entirely if I hadn't found out.

Nagging days are definitely not over. I'm with you, though, on being tired of doing it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New London on

Each child is different. As a parenting instructor, I suggest that he does his hw at the same time every day. Of course, if there is an activity on a certain day of the week---The routine will have to be altered.

It is his responsibility. He can be reminded. At the same time, it should not be a power struggle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Get a routine of saying...what do you have for homework tonight? While i do a load of laundry, or start dinner sit at the table and si your math. My kids found it reassuring that I was doing something productive too. They knew where i was if they needed help. Homework is done right after school, no chance to forget and still a shot of returningto school if something was forgotten.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Depends on the kid. When my kids were still enrolled brick and mortar schools, my then-third grade daughter needed both a regularly set-aside homework time AND reminders, and still sometimes forgot things. By the end of his first month of first grade (and he was in an accelerated program that did send home daily homework, even at that age) my son had established a routine for himself and got it done on his own, with minimal support.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

My son knows to automatically do his homework. Now, everything else, I feel like I am always reminding him about ( he is in 4th grade ).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

My kids are in 5th & 7th grades. We've had a routine starting in Kindergarten. They come home from school and get busy on homework right away.

They have planners and folders, which I sign/check first thing when they come in the door. Non-computer homework is always done in the kitchen.

They can have a snack right before or during working, but can't do anything else until homework is done. No need for reminders, because it is impossible to forget or put off. They would have to blatantly refuse to do their work for it to not get done.

My 7th grader almost had a homework issue yesterday. He had the right papers, but grabbed the wrong book. Fortunately, all the textbooks for his classes are online so he was able to pull it up and do the work.



answers from Salt Lake City on

As much as I believe in empowering my children (believe me, I've read every book out there and applied their "wisdom"), my oldest needs to be reminded. He is in 6th grade (11 1/2). He is a creature of habit though, so it has at least gotten to the point that I only have to remind him at the appropriate time (usually 6:30pm), and he'll put his head down and do it. He also has ADD and has to apply significant effort to get good grades. He also does not CARE much about his grades (he is passive - not competitive at all). He is fine with B's and C's.

My 7 year old, on the other hand, usually does not need reminding. He doesn't have much homework though yet (and he's a bleepin' genius, so it takes him two seconds to do it), so that may change when he gets older, and has more/harder work. He STRIVES to be the smartest in his class, and is "uber" competitive.

I think it depends on the child, but I would certainly try to at least establish a routine and stick with it. That works well for BOTH my kids.



answers from Houston on

I still check with my HS senior to see if he's done his homework. Apparently that wasn't enough because he failed English last semester. It's sad that it's taken this long to get him to understand the importance of doing homework ON. TIME! I have constantly check on my 11 year old, too. I'm guessing that when they're in college I won't have to check up on much.


answers from Kalamazoo on

I don't know, but it's normal for mine - 8 and 10. I ask them when they get home and are emptying their backpacks if they have homework. Then after dinner while I'm cleaning the kitchen, they sit at the table and do their homework.


answers from Jacksonville on

Totally depends upon the kid. Some kids, you almost NEVER have to remind them. My daughter is like that. She was excited to HAVE homework in first grade. She is anxious to get started on it, and get it done, when she has it now. I never have to double check that she has what she needs or if she left it at school.

Other kids, yes, you will need to remind them. Sometimes, it can take on more of the tone of a "directive" rather than a reminder. My son was like that... he hated having homework. He would forget homework sheets or a folder with an assignment in it, or a book he needed, at school... and when I asked about homework as we pulled out of the parking lot into traffic, he would suddenly dig through his bag and say he forgot _______, and so we'd go back so he could dig it out of his disorganized desk. He always said that the teachers rushed them to pack up and get out the door at the end of the day. No doubt it was hectic. But he was disorganized and his mind was on other things when it was finally, blessedly, time to go home.
Once home, he'd need a snack. Then he really needed to unwind or run around for a few minutes to burn off some energy. Then, I'd have to "remind" him. Often, we would have an activity we would need to leave for, so I'd have to insist he sit down and get started, so he would have time to finish before we left for the activity.

As he got older, we also went through the phase where he would say he didn't have any (when he did-- but would try to do it at school, or would later say he just remembered it... because he didn't want to do it right away, I suspect). Now, in 9th grade, when the kids come home I ask them how their day was and what homework they have. They answer both pretty straightforwardly. They know in the morning before school what activities they have after school hours, so they know if they can chill for a few minutes and have a snack before starting, or if they need to knock it out quickly. And usually they do what needs to be done. Son still tries to cut corners... but, that is just him. One day, cutting corners will somehow serve him well, I am sure. I hope, anyway. LOL

But in 4th grade? Oh yeah... I had to remind him. I nearly drove myself insane trying to figure out how to "get him organized". It just didn't work. I think half of it was maturity. And half of it was that his teachers were too picky about what sort of 'system' they wanted their students to use. And half of it was that you can't organize somebody else. (And yes, I know that math doesn't add up).
He still has a messy backpack. But he rarely loses anything anymore. Or forgets to bring home work/books. He always has a pencil. Paper. His inhaler. And his ID.

Yes, you can go tough love and let him fail, so that you are not responsible to remind him of his responsibility, and he WILL learn to be responsible or he will fail. OR, you can remind him and try to teach him some strategies to remind himself. Some cues. Or play around and help him figure out what time works best for him to do homework. Some kids do it immediately when they get home, to get it out of the way, and prefer it that way. Some kids need downtime first. And do the homework after dinner. Or after a snack and just before dinner. Or whatever else system they figure out that works for them. So you can help him figure out what works for him... Give him some different options. Yes remind, but give him some control, too.

And remember, it can be difficult for them to remember homework if it is different every day, and they have a lot of other activities on various days. It can get confusing and overwhelming. It won't "ruin" him to help him keep things straight.

I suggest that, as long as you are his mom, you will have the urge to remind him, if he isn't remembering on his own and following through. It's part of being a mom. One day, you will not NEED to remind him though. And then you have done your job. :)



answers from Dallas on

Get used to it. It's an everyday question.
Do you like to ask him everyday? Do you like to keep up with random projects and due dates? Neither does he.

It's going to be this way until it clicks with him. It's easier for some than others. My HS kid knows its all on him and he will put of projects till the last min. He gets them done. As long as he does, I am good.


answers from Washington DC on

i wouldn't.
but then i believe in empowering children, which means allowing them to make poor choices when there is no danger associated and letting them deal with the consequences.



answers from Dallas on

My 7th grader has to be reminded - almost to the point of making it an order. He is a procrastinator though and will put it off until bedtime if I would let him. Thank goodness he doesn't have much homework to do !



answers from Washington DC on

Please... he is 9.
We had a hard and fast rule: You come home, you have a snack, you do your homework. You do not pass go. You do nothing until the homework is done... As they got older and had activities after school, the rule was that when you walk in the door the homework gets started.
If they had projects, we would work together to figure out what to do when. Time management is a learned skill. It is not innate. Most of the time, we would push the kids to get the projects done early and turned in early. (Get it done, and then get it out of here!) My now college sophomore learned that lesson well and is still doing it. It is impressive to teachers when the kids turn in a complete, well researched, well written project early.
I think it might have been 9th grade when we stopped overseeing every aspect of the homework. They knew they wanted to go to good colleges and they knew what they needed to do to get there. They were also surrounded by older kids who used their time well. If they had 5 min. before a rehearsal or a meeting, they'd sit in the hall and do a couple of math problems.
Spend the time.
Show your children that schoolwork is important.
Help when they don't understand something.
Set some rules and follow through.

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