Time Out for No Homework

Updated on December 08, 2010
J.U. asks from Williamsburg, VA
15 answers

I have been helping out in my child 's school and I noticed a couple of teachers - not my child 's- that when they notice a child has forgotten to bring in homework they give that student a time out. I am torn as weather or not I agree with that. I don't ever remember being punished that way for no homework when I was growing up. This is first grade. It certainly makes me wonder what other "tough" practices might be going on in other areas of study and what would I do if my child ever gets that type of teacher.

Any suggestions on how to handle it? or Opinions on this being a good idea or not to "punish" for forgetting homework for a young student?

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So What Happened?

Suz T. --they are not working on any assignments when they are given the time out. If they forget it they don't give them a blank one to start over on. They are pushing them for something that is slightly above their ability as young people.

Well I am still leaning that it is just totally wrong. Last week while I was a little busy preparing for the Holidays I forgot to put my son's, grade K, reader in his backpack. I wasn't the only one, I got a note that afternoon that 7 kids forgot their readers and all had to pull a yellow card. Which meant 5 mins of recess was lost. I told my son I was sorry but at least he wasn't alone.

Susanne H. I hear what your saying. The first time I talked to the teacher about something her response was....well other parents complain the opposite. What kind of answer is that? I don't care about other parents. The system is here. They give 4 pages of work to 1st grade on Monday and told to turn in on Thursday. For grade K it is 5 or more things and told to bring in on Friday. They will not except anything early. So all week long I have papers hanging out on my kitchen counter hoping I don't forget or spill something on them. Definitely more stress for me than student. They are not going to at this age make a plan and work on it each night or all at once and keep track of it all week, but other parents complain that one page each night is to much. (boo freakin hoo) :(

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answers from Richmond on

My 14 yo stepson has been allowed to slide his entire life b/c the parents rule the roost at the schools around here so the teacher's feel tied down and unable to make any demands or exact any punishments for fear of the parents getting upset (we've asked for punishments - such as staying after school to finish assignments, etc. - to no avail). I don't think there is anything wrong with a "soft" punishment such as a timeout for not doing homework. How else will they learn if everyone constantly says, "it's okay, you can do it next time?" When is next time??? That only teaches procrastination and gives them a sense of "I don't have to do it / I'm better than everyone else / it doesn't matter what I do and don't do / etc." Take it from someone trying to deal with a now spoiled and selfish 14 yo who thinks he's too good to do any work whatsoever!

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answers from Williamsport on

I would speak to the teachers and or principal about it all friendly like, "Hi, Hey, I noticed some time outs being given to kids for forgetting their homework. Could you explain this policy to me? I don't remember being disciplined this way as a kid-is this a blanket policy in this school, and why is it believed to be good?"

Try to keep your tone positive and genuinely curious, not critical. Let them know you really want them to explain and hear them out about it. If you find out it's only some teachers, and they feel strongly about it, and you aren't satisfied with the reasoning, you can respectfully request to have a different teacher for that reason. If everyone does it, you may need to rethink the school or file a complaint of some sort or request that isn't done to your child. But hear them out first. maybe it's something you can avoid easily by telling the teacher you don't approve of it.

It does seem strange to me too. I wouldn't want more than a note letting me know my child's work was forgotten-not discipline for this. It's often the parents fault the homework isn't done and it seems wrong to discipline the child, but my kids are younger and Im not familiar with the big picture, so I would ask first.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I would be upset to learn that my daughter's teacher did this (she's in first grade). Really the parents of the child should be the one in time out, not the child. I don't think at this age they should be held responsible for that. Of course my daughter would forget to take her homework in sometimes if I didn't remind her. She's 6!

I think I would mention it to your child's teacher if you have a friendly relationship with her/him. Or even the principle. I would love to know the reasoning behind them doing this. A simple note to the parents would work fine! Now, if the child was not doing their work during class I think that would be a different story. Time out would be appropriate for that situation. I know in my daughters school if they don't do their work, they cannot go to recess and have to stay in class to finish it.

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answers from Chicago on

Speaking as a teacher... I'll bet those teachers are at their wits end with students who don't do homework. And, yes, they most likely realize it is the parents who aren't following through and making sure the child completes & returns assignments.

If you're a volunteer, why not ask the teacher if you can pull those students aside & help them finish? That way, it is a win-win... the children learn the importance of school work, the teachers are less stressed, and you feel warm & squishy for helping the children!!

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answers from Dallas on

I don't understand this policy either. I thought the "punishment" for missed homework was a low grade or a non-passing grade on the assignment. To me, the parents give the punishment for forgetting homework. Take Amy's advice about how to approach the school, as curious will get you much farther than defensive/accusative. Good luck!

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answers from Seattle on

It's one of the reason's why when my son was in school I instituted a "No Double Jeopardy" clause. For everything he does "wrong" (missing HW, talking in class, being disruptive, fights, pick an infraction - any infraction) in school... he would get punished in a way deemed appropriate by the teacher &/or school. To turn around and have him be honest with me about what happened and then get in trouble AGAIN seemed both unduly harsh and a BRILLIANT way to encourage that he NOT be honest with me about his day.

I distinctly remember getting in trouble at school, then turning around and getting in trouble at home. It taught me to lie to my parents to avoid a 2nd round of punishment.

For the 4 years my son was in away school No Double Jeopardy worked equally brilliantly. I got to actually HEAR about his troubles and HELP him through them. Because he wasn't afraid of the consequences I got to be much more influential in his life than my parents were in mine. His teacher was actually floored about how honest and how detailed his explanations of his day were with me.

It's in part due to my own memories of childhood... and in part do to that I trained horses and dogs for years, and helped to raise many kids. It does very little good to punish hours after an infraction with either animals or young children.

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answers from Portland on

I agree that a disciplinary shaming, on top of a failing grade for the missing work, is harsh. The poor grade would be the logical consequence, and logical consequences tend to be the most effective.

I've been involved in education in one way or another for most of my adult life, and I feel real despair for children and families when I hear how much homework some schools assign elementary-age children. There is NO RESEARCH that shows this work actually benefits children before high school, and many developmental specialists believe its actually detrimental. There are also schools with outstanding educational records that do not assign homework.

I'm not sure what I'd do if I were in your shoes, but I may get a chance to find out, because my grandson will be starting K next fall, and I don't know what the homework policies will be at his school. In his case, I think he'll groove on doing "big-kid" work up to a point, but not all children are so academically-oriented, nor should they be expected to be. If the burden were to become onerous, I expect I would join with my daughter and son-in-law, talk to his teacher, talk to the school administration if his teacher can't make adjustments, and ask for a change in homework policy.

I've worked inside the school system, and know this can be somewhat risky, making your child a possible target for teacher or administration resentment.

On the other hand, teachers sometimes are forced to go along with ill-advised policies and are incredibly grateful when parents speak up, especially if it's an organized group of parents arguing for a change. So I'd do my best to connect with other parents concerned about homework, too, and present a united and reasonable front. I stress "reasonable," because hysterical or enraged parents get dismissed pretty quickly.

Do your own homework. There's lots to research on the web, and some well-written books on the subject. Here's one good starting point; a talk at this link by Alfie Kohn, a very thoughtful educator. ttp://www.alfiekohn.org/books/hm.htm

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answers from St. Louis on

I would think at that age, they would either give the student a second opportunity to bring in the homework (for a lesser grade) or make them sit inside during recess or something like that to work on it. I do not think time outs are necessary at school. I would definitely have a problem with this if that were my children's teacher.

As far as the parents go, I think it's up to each parent to check the student's papers/folders/assignment notebook at night to ensure they do/do not have homework. Obviously if the child has not written anything down, then that is different. Here is where an open line of communication with the teacher is priceless. And I think some schools (not sure if in elementary) put the homework assignment up on their website.

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answers from Washington DC on

As someone who has taught 2nd grade in the past and worked in other capacities in elementary schools for many years, here is my take. You and all of the parents who responded are mature, responsible parents/grandparent who are the best parents you can be, raising healthy, responsible future contributing citizens. In a classroom of 25 students, most children are coming from homes with parents like you. The problem is MOST, not all. What a double edged sword for the teacher. She is responsible for educating the ones who are not from homes where there is proper parenting, as well as the ones who are. Only rarely have I come across an elementary teacher who doesn't care deeply about the children in her charge and doesn't do all in her power to ensure success for each little one. You've noticed an action taken by teachers that you question, but unless you have all the details as to why these teachers have taken this action, you don't have the whole story. That's most likely why you're torn.
Education is hard to instill without responsiblity being taught at home. The 15 minutes of homework is brought home so that the concept being taught can be reinforced by the parent and so that the child can learn accountablilty for his/her assignment. If the parent does not do their part in these early years by encouraging the child to tend to business, the teacher strives to fill that gap. Maybe he/she can, maybe not.
It's likely that your child will come across a teacher whose consequences you may view as harsh. What you have going for you is that your child is unlikely to have to suffer unpleasant consequences since you are teaching responsibility and positive behavior. Of course, at some point, your child will make a mistake and have to suffer the consequences whether they are deemed "right" by you or not. The best way to help your child through that is to be supportive of his/her feelings without being emotional yourself and to NEVER be negative about the "punishment" inflicted. If you have doubts and disagreements with the teacher, address the teacher in private, without involving your child at all. (Of course, if anything is WAY out of line, address it immediately with the proper authorities) It is important that your child see you and the school as a team who only have his/her best interest at heart.
Hope I've helped. It's wonderful and very healthy for your child that you help out at school. Keep up the great parenting job you are doing!

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answers from Chicago on

At the school my daughter used to attend if they didn't bring in their homework they had to do it during either recess or gym. Kids that young are not motivated by receiving a lessor grade - they don't really even understand the concept. what they do understand is that if they don't remember to bring in their homework they lose something they like to do. - which is not a bad lesson.

As far as the debate about homework and whether or not its useful...... we just use it as a way to build study habits and routine. So, even on nights where she doesn't have something "assigned" by the school she still has "homework time" where she can read a book or write a story. Or we take previous homework and do more of that some concept - so if she was working on reading comprehension I would just ask her more information on the story that was assigned etc. I buy into the whole 'let kids be kids' debate.... but I also think "homework" is a great way to use the silly little worksheet that would come home as a way to build a behavior for the future - even if what she is doing that night isn't really important.

In terms of making you wonder what you will do if your child gets that type of teacher..... you will find that your child will get all sorts of teachers - some you will agree with and some you won't. It will be important that you, as the parent, back what the teacher does (unless it's just out of control - not just a difference in 'style') so that your child begins to learn that s/he won't agree with everything that people in authority do, but s/he needs to follow the rules. That is life. In the workplace there are all kinds of policies we don't agree with..... but we do them or we lose our job. This is a GREAT opportunity for you to teach your child how to not let this type of stuff frustrate her/him.

Good Luck

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answers from Washington DC on

i HATE that first graders have mandatory homework but since they do it should be down on time. wonder if i can find a school that allows a six-year-old to be a child for a while...


answers from Washington DC on

how about if you don't look at it as 'punishment' but as a 'natural consequence'? if the teacher allows the child to work on the homework during the time-out, that's exactly what it is.
i do agree that strict policies in first grade seems a bit oppressive, but my heart goes out to public school teachers, who never ever ever seem to get a break. the assumptions are ALWAYS that they are just mean, or have it out for so-and-so's kid, or are clueless about what kids really need. it's a herculean task to juggle society's demands, the board of ed's requirements, and a teacher's natural inclination to give each individual child what he needs.
remember, few people get into teaching at public schools, a job with low pay, huge stress and long hours, because they dislike kids and want to torture them.
i suggest you talk to the teacher, find out the motivations for this rule, and work with her on how to make this a positive experience rather than a punitive one.



answers from Washington DC on

My daughter is in first grade. The first time they forget homework they let it slide if they bring it in the next day. The next time they loose 10 minutes of recess where they are supposed to work on the homework. they have a color clip behavior system and they have to move their clip down a level at that point. When I was in school I remember having to go to the office during lunch and do your homework for a second offense. I will tell you that my daughter is very aware of her homework being done and in her folder because she doesn't want to loose recess or have her clip moved down, so it does work.



answers from Washington DC on

I am a 5th grade teacher and keep students in at recess sometimes to complete homework (ususally if they are repeat offenders). I do not keep them in the whole time though, because I know they need that time to relax. First grade, however, is a different story. If I taught first grade, I don't think I would be giving students a "time out" unless there has been contact with the parent. They are young and have not really learned how to be independent/responsible on their own. The teacher should probably contact the parents first to report the missing homework (since it should be the parents' responsibility at this point) to remind them to check for HW each night. As a parent, I would probably ask the teacher why my child was kept inside to try to understand the reasoning behind the decision. Then I would request that the teacher inform me first about missing HW instead of giving my child a time out, unless this policy is school procedure. If it is a repeated problem, then the parents and teacher need to have a conference and work out a plan to correct the problem so that it does not become a bad habit for the child. Hope this info helps some. Good luck.



answers from Cumberland on

Shame is a powerful tool that is pretty much unused today-and there is an entire generation of entitlement as a result-my kids included. We would have rather gone blind in one eye than not have our homework done-now you get a time out-when they get older-it will be no credit-I made the children do their homework -even if it didn't count. Time out will not work unless it is used to give the child time to do the assignment that they didn't do at a time when they won't miss instruction for the next nights homework.

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