8th grader who can't seem to turn in homework - HELP

mommabirdAugust 20, 2008

Hi friends,

My 14 y.o. son is super smart - scores in 99th percentile in all areas on the standardized tests. BUT his class grades don't reflect it. When he went from elementary to middle school, his grades went from straight As, to As & Bs, to last year getting a final grade of C in Algbra.

He's in all advanced classes. As a 7th grader, he took all 9th grade classes. The principal assigned him to re-take Algebra and Science because he got Cs in both. This is the kid who is a math/science whiz. I went in and talked to her yesterday. She pulled up last year's grades on her computer and saw what I meant when I said it would be a waste of time for him to re-take those classes. EVERY test was 90% or above. What brought his grades down was all the 0s on homework.

This is homework that he sits at the table and does every day after school. Our rule is - you come straight in the house, sit down, and do your homework. No TV, no computer, NOTHING until homework is done & MOM approved.

The problem is actually getting the homework turned in. I TRIED EVERYTHING!!! He has tried at least 5 different combinations of folders, binders, Trapper Keepers, etc during the past 2 years. I bought him with a watch that had multiple alarms so he could set reminders to turn in the homework.

The BIGGEST problem is the teachers ALL have an attitude of "it's not my job to remind them to turn in their homework." NOT A SINGLE TEACHER will say "Class, turn in your homework" when the bell rights. Come on, how hard would that be?? I'm 44 years old and work on multiple projects at work. Some of them have a project manager assigned who reminds me of my tasks. For others, I am the PM and I send out reminder emails to team members.

I told the principal, if I can remind people in their 40s and 50s to do their tasks at work, would it be too much to ask for teachers to remind 13 and 14 year olds to turn in their homework?

Another big problem is that they are not allowed to carry their backpacks during the school day (thanks to Colomine and other school shootings) and they can only go to their lockers before school, at lunch, and after school. If you forget a book, folder, or paper that you need you get a 0 that day for homework.

I AM AT MY WITS END with this situation! I have threatened to drive him to school and escort him to each room so I can witness him turning in all homework before the first bell. Right now, I am at work before he leaves and he takes the bus. I am not kidding in saying that I could re-arrange my work hours in order to take him to school for "homework turnin" before the school day.

I should also mention- he has ADHD but we found out last winter that he has 2 leaking heart valves. He had an EKG during his annual physcial - he's 6'4.5" and our doctor did an EKG because super tall kids commonly have heart problems. There was a "blip" on the EKG so he had a heart scan, which showed the leakages. He had to immediately stop taking his ADHD medication because they are stimulants and stress the heart. So this slide in grades started then.

Can anyone help? What has worked for you with your kids?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, the loss of the ADHD medication really can make a difference. My 5th grader low all sorts of things like that on the days his dad forgets to give him his pill (I've got DS started on remembering it on his own, and his doesn't do half bad)

Due to the ADHD, does your kid have an IEP or whatever? Can you get an "accommodation" for him to be able to turn in his homework at the end of the entire day, even if not in class? It's really not more of an accommodation than giving him extra time on the test (for that matter, specifically asking him for his homework isn't different than the other sorts of accommodations, either). The fact that this became a problem after the meds were stopped is ammo for arguing that it's part of his disability.

My DD had some of the same problems; not exactly the same, but she'd do homework and lose it in her tote bag.

I found it frustrating that the 6th grade (& 7th & 8th) teachers didn't have a "turn in the homework" moment. I think that part of what we should teach kids in school is how to organize themselves, and creating that "housekeeping" moment in the classroom is part of it.

Also, kids are such at the mercy of the teachers, who walk in and say "get out your notebooks" or simply start lecturing, so they are programmed to follow the teacher's lead, and I think that creates the habit of being passive in terms of what happens in the classroom. That's another reason why I think they need a moment for this.

Let me tell you, if I'm in a meeting where I expect people to hand me something, I create that moment.

Does your SON have any ideas? Would he be willing to walk in to school and "make the rounds" in the morning dropping his homework off w/ each teacher before his class? (do his teachers have mailboxes in the office? Can he drop the homework into their mailbox in the front office the moment he gets to school?)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 9:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had the same problem with my DD in middle school. Her problem was that she couldn't find the homework in her backpack. In her school they didn't have lockers and carried the backpack from class to class. If she did find it when class had already started she didn't want to get up in front of everybody. I made her clean out her backpack everyday and she was embarrassed that she had to be in the conference with me and the teachers and I didn't have a problem after that. I couldn't understand why her grades were dropping either.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 9:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My DS doesn't have an IEP because we've had all his testing and evaluation done privately. The school district won't accept private testing, and I'm not willing to let their "specialists" test him based on the horror stores I've heard from other parents who went that route.

I should have added - the principal did reassign him to advanced science and geometry for this coming year. She agreed it would be a waste of his time to repeat last year's classes.

The principal is WONDERFUL and she did ask me to contact her the 2nd or 3rd week of school for an IET - an intervention evaluation team. It's for kids who don't have an IEP but need a little extra help. She said it would be her, the guidance counselor, and all his teachers in a roundtable. I could explain his medical condition that precludes ADHD meds, our private testing & evaluation that he's had, and ask the teachers for recommendations for help.

One idea I had was that after he's done with his homework, he can scan and email it to the teacher. The principal thought that was a great idea!

Talley Sue, my 14 y.o. is basically a non-communicative teen. When I try to discuss this and ask him 'do you have any ideas' all I get is "I dunno." SIGH this is the sweet little boy who used to talk my ear off! Now he's 14, 6'4.5", silent and surley. I never thought I'd see it! But sometimes that sweet little boy still shines through -and when he's having an ungarded moment he still calls me Mommy. Makes me want to cry it's so sweet!

Another idea I half jokingly told the principal is that I'll make him a vest with 7 pockets and embroder each teacher's name on a pocket. His homework for that teacher would go in the pocket, and he'd have to wear the vest all day. Each teacher would unsnap the pocket and take out that day's homework. Actually I think it's a brilliant idea but she laughed.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 9:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our son and a neice both had the same problem of doing the work and not turning it in. Not sure about our neices testing, but our son always tested high an was always willing to particpate in class. The teachers and his Dad and I were at a loss at what to do to get him to turn in the work he did. Finally when a couple of the teachers started allowing the students to use their computers for their homework for some reason he started turning his in. He never could explain why he found it easier to remember to turn in work done on the computer, but I always thought he felt more comfortable with how it looked. Neater than his written word. His penmanship did leave a lot to desire. That might be something you see if his teachers will allow. Though they sound like the type that you either do it their way or no way. I worked for a teacher the last year I assistant taught that was like that to the point of if I didn't use the exact words she used when telling me she'd scream at me. I won't even tell you how awful she was to the students. The administration wouldn't do a thing about it. I think they were afraid of her to tell you the truth.
Good luck with your son mommabird. I used to be MommaBear to our son. He's grown and is a Daddy so now I'm Grammy.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 9:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Assuming your son gets his book to class, could he fold the homework and put it in the book at night - not in a folder?

I think it's pretty common nationwide that by 5th-6th grade kids aren't reminded to turn in homework. I believe the schools are trying to encourage responsibility. And I hear what you are saying about reminding adults at work.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 6:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

IEP testing is standardized and publicly funded, compared to private testing, which must sell its products and has no bearing in the public school system. It's true that evaluations can differ from district to district, but if he's in public school, I'd give IEP testing another consideration. In my district, the services offered to IEP students are amazing and very worthwhile. If it could be as simple as that, no drugs....

With an IEP, parents are involved in a more intimate manner than simply as another parent of the 160 or so students that a teacher has every day. You could require his teachers to ask him every day to turn in his homework, and you would get weekly progress reports from each teacher. He would have a resource room with teachers to assist him with any problems that develop or questions he may have about the day's assignments.

Even in the worst district, some services should be available. It may be difficult to get your district to test your son, however. Call your son's Guidance Counselor, and be insistant that you want a face-to-face conference. Perhaps the GC can offer suggestions and can personally intervene with son's teachers. Even without an IEP, s/he may even call in son weekly to discuss progress with him.

If you or he is worried about social stigma associated with being a Special Ed kid, don't. None of his peers will know unles he tells them. It is private. A kid like yours would attend his classes and probably not have an in-class aide. And, so what if they do know? He will be getting great benefit from the program.

And at 14, most kids stop babbling to their parents, so don't despair.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 8:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A teacher has a kid in her class that is getting A's on tests but is consistantly losing points because he forgets to hand in homework. So how does this teacher respond to the situation? ... By doing nothing, then when the parent investigates and finds out what the issue is, how does the teacher respond? ... "It's not my job"

It may not be in her job description but wouldn't any normal person want a top student in their class to excel. Would it really be that difficult to say "make sure you hand in your homework" at the beginning or end of class? It doesn't sound like a teacher who wants to go the extra mile. I'd be upset if one of my children had a teacher w/ this attitude.

That being said, I like the email idea. If a teacher wasn't receptive to that I would staple a folder to each copybook and have him put his homework in there. Then he will be reminded as soon as he pulls out his copybook.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 9:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I understand and am sympathetic to the idea that the teachers and system seem unsupportive-- a "call" for homework at the beginning or end of class fits into class time organization, not coddling, really, and sounds like several teachers have chips on their shoulders about that.

That said, real life is all about, don't blame someone else. My husband and I are now dealing with a few "young adult" responsibility issues, and while we thought we weren't being too indulgent over the years, and seemed to have a great rationale for various decisions we made, we think we can now see crossroads at which we made things too easy, that maybe would have made a difference. Of course a lot of that is the retrospectoscope, but we are making changes now with both kids even though we failed initially to nip some of this stuff "in the butt" as we like to say.

I don't see why you couldn't design consequences for his not turning in homework, same, or similar, to what you have in place for not DOING it. What have you got to lose? To do this, you have to get yourself to a place where you have faith that your son can do it and is not somehow impaired. That is fundamental to so many parenting issues--sending the message "we know you can do this, what are you going to do about it?" and not, oh, please try this, please try that. You have to get past the idea that the school ought to do a better job, although, that doesn't mean you can't pursue a few things, like having him go to several classes before the start bell rings, or something; it just means that, when the rubber hits the road, who's gonna make the grades happen--him or you? The homework concept is truly a great precursor to all the other much more complicated (and more important) decisions and actions he will have to make, sooner than you think.

If you want to be more touchy-feely about it, you might sit down with your son and develop the negative consequences together, and draw up a contract. You might also include rewards for various levels of success.

My daughter had a high school AP class in which the teacher did not post grades for the quizzes or tell the class when the grades were available. My daughter failed several quizzes without even knowing it. The teacher said, they can come talk with me whenever they wish. This just drove us crazy, and I think we went so far as to e-mail him and ask what was going on, but he still had his system. He is one of the toughest teachers in the school and very bright kids seldom make A's, but historically his students do well on the A-P exam and he is considered one of their top teachers. We did not go running to the principal, but did support and encourage our daughter. We did a lot of teeth-gnashing and fretting over whether things were "fair".

You might take heart from some of the parenting books by John Rosemond--he describes several situations like this.

I know advice is cheap, and you're the one in the middle of it. But likely your son is more capable (which is not the same thing as motivated!) than you're giving him credit for.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 10:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is another thought: Your son probably doesn't NEED to do homework - he already knows the subject, so for him homework is just a waste of time. He's right, but the system won't allow him to get away with that - unless he has an IEP. Just because he is bright and gets it doesn't mean that other students don't need the reinforcement homework is supposed to provide, which is why teachers assign homework.

Your son doesn't need the repetition, yet is doing his homework so you won't be mad and take away his privileges.
Since he is doing the homework but not turning it in, he has other issues. Straight zeros surely indicate that.

He sounds like a good boy. Don't alienate him over this issue, help him find out what the problem is. The problem is personal to him, and probably vague; he is probably unable to even identify the problem or that he may have one. He certainly can't talk to you about it because that is human nature, but he may talk to his guidance counselor. He is too old to tell his parents everything anymore, and as parents we have to get used to the idea.

I know you're frustrated, but so is he, over something you know nothing about. Nagging him isn't going to help; nag his guidance counselor instead, and since the principal is on your side, stay in touch with her. But don't expect to know the "reason" this is happening. What goes on in the counselor's office is private.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 11:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi mommabird,

I WAS your son!!! Oh boy, this brings back memories. I don't think I turned in homework regularly until college. I didn't have to. One of my teachers pulled me aside and told me, "I HAVE to give you an A for this quarter, even though you haven't turned in much. You have a 98% test average."

Two things:

a) Your son is not being challenged enough in his classes. He needs to be in classes where when he does the homework, he has enough questions that he has to communicate with the teacher and other students to solve his questions/problems.

He won't retain any of the material later unless he actually has to struggle with it. I am struggling with a geometry-related problem now for some shelves I'm building and boy do I wish I hadn't blown off that classwork.

b) He needs to learn and apply study skills. He will not see the point in doing this until he actually needs study skills for his coursework--which he doesn't right now.

In retrospect, I would have been better off if I had skipped a grade. This might work for your son. At his size, he won't be the smallest in his class and social skills-wise, he sounds about average for high school.
Also, have you looked at the Simon's Rock program at Bard College? It combines the last two years of high school and the first two years of college into two years. One of my classmates attended it and she loved it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Simon's Rock

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 11:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I stopped handing in homework in journalism class when my high school J teacher said it was "basically busy work."

I got a C, from incompletes.

So yes, he may feel that the homework is basically a waste of time.

(Jane, my DD will be going to Bard High School Early College II in Queens--thanks for the link to SImon's Rock)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 12:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When my daughters had trouble in school, I immediately called the principal for a four-way conference:principal, teacher (s), student and parent. We discussed the issue and usually found a solution. My older daughter was a good student until sixth grade. Honor roll, etc. Then she hit sixth grade, middle school. She carried an extremely messy backpack. No amount of nagging helped. I went to school on "Parents' Night", looked in her locker and found it stuffed with papers. I threw out everything and called for a conference. Seems she was very shy afraid to speak up in class.She was tested and had ADD. She hated homework, she insisted "I don't know how to do it. The teacher never taught me this." I asked the teacher if she had taught the subject matter (her problems were mostly with math)and she admitted she had not. I said to the teacher (with the principal present): "Homework should be for practice and reinforcement, not for learning a subject." The teacher agreed to check my daughter's work more carefully, not remind her, just make sure she had written down the assignments, and I started checking her completed homework each night. She was also put on medication, Adderal, which helped a lot. Sometimes it takes a "Team meeting".

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 1:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I disagree that struggle helps you retain. My SonIL is a doctor who seldom attended his med school classes - at the University of Chicago, no less, and he graduated Number 5. He read the books. Yes, he is brilliant, but I'm saying that people learn in different ways, and struggling may not be one of them. Neither is doing busywork.

Very few people are interested in everything, and I hate busywork. Your son is already taking advanced courses and will probably do well in them whether he does homework or not. There are a lot of smart kids in the world; most of them are not motivated the way WE THE PARENTS think they should be. There is nothing we can do about that. I also don't think it's just the lack of "challenge" some students do or do not respond to. I wish I did know what the answers are.

My high school pays tuition and transportation to the nearest public university for students who have completed all the course work the high school offers in a given subject. Your hs probably does, too. We have had several students graduate from hs and head to college with credits to cover their first three semesters. Just think what that saves you in college tuition!

Many of these students are highly motivated, but some are completely unmotivated. I know one young man - he must be about 24 now - who was riding the bus to college twice a week for math and chemistry classes when he was 15 and a high school sophomore. He stayed in high school for AP English, AP History, etc and nearly failed everything, but got 5s on all his AP tests! He was lazy, taciturn, brilliant and unmotivated. I see him now and then, and he's turned into a very funny fellow, very into politics. But, you know what? He has no interest in earning money. He earned his college degree (he says with honors. I believe him, but I have no way of checking that) and does odd jobs to support himself. And he is as handsome as he can be, if you can see past his dissheveled look! His parents are probably very disappointed in him, but he is as happy as he can be.

There is life without straight As.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 1:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think the recent posts have a lot of great ideas on how to see into the cause of the problem in order to find the best solution for the individual. It's true that just conforming to the typical school requirements may not be best and may be counterproductive. The ideas offered are really creative and trying to find what turns on learning for each different student.

It might require knowing what's in the homework assignments. Is it in fact busy work, or something better ? Might a kid be benefitting from doing the homework (since it's being done) and that is actually contributing to the test score outcomes?

Boy, I hate to be in the position of defending public schools, but one other way to look at homework vs. tests is, ideally, they are complementary. Now math usually is reinforcement and repetition, so maybe, it's a no-brainere that if you can pass the tests, you know the material, but even there, homework problems may cover a wider range of examples than are covered in a test; in other subjects, the homework might be an integral part of the curriculum, meaning, work done outside of class and not necessarily covered on exams. For example, if one were to have no homework in certain classes, then the class, and the tests, might actually be designed differently to cover the same material. So the flip side is that you could have a kid who does great homework but doesn't test well, and those are different skill sets, and possibly quite useful skills, particularly for homework that requires more than copying answers.

I thought our kids often had too much homework, or maybe it was if they are going to be in school for almost 8 hrs a day, then should have less homework, because how else are they going to have time for some other activities (given that most public schools have given up routine music and sports for regular kids); perhaps ideally should have had less sitting in class time and more projects. That to me is one of the potential advantages of home-schooling.

Okay, I'm wandering now...

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 3:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

At this point, I am not really interested in how my son FEELS about it - not to sound hard, but homework is a requirment and he HAS to turn it in!

I, myself, was a C student in jr. hi and high school I hated school, hated the teachers & the snotty kids. At the time I went to college, if you could fog a mirror you were guaranteed acceptance into Ohio public universities. I went to college and got straight A's. I got to pick where I went to college, what classes I took, and when to do it. Looking back, I realize what I hated about high school was being forced to do everything according to someone else's agenda.

I'm now a pretty with-it adult. I have a great job, make a decent living, have a great family & good friends. I realize that A's don't guarantee anything - but the difference is, even public universities are super competitive now. 27 years ago when I went to college, it was a rare and wonderful thing. Now it's expected & the norm. Every middle class kid expects to go to college. It's the norm now for kids at the HS he'll attend to finish all their HS credits by the end of their second year, then attend Ohio State University for their 3rd & 4th years, thus graduating from HS as Juniors in college. Ohio has a program where public school kids can do this tuition free, so the schools really push the bright kids to do it. AP classes are fine, but this gives the kids real, earned college credits.

And guess what - if any of my kids don't go to college (gasp!) I'll be just fine with that. Their dad graduated with a BS in computer science, worked for almost 20 years as a systems analyst, then decided about 6 years ago it was killing him, he hated it, and couldn't do it one more minute. Now he's a laborer - works behind the scene in theater building sets, running spots, electrician, fork lift, etc. And the most amazing thing - about 75% of the guys he works with also have bachelors degrees, some even masters degrees!!! He works with a former OSU professor with a PhD whodecided he couldn't take the pressure of academia any more. It's amazing - a whole community of men who went to college because it was "what was expected," were miserable in their professional careers, and had the guts to chuck it all. I admire them, but BOY do I miss the $$$ DH used to make in computers!

Anyway, we all digress. I need ideas on how to get that darned kid to:
1. be able to FIND the homework, and
2. remember to turn it in!

Any help with those two issues? Any organizational methods that WORK with kids like him?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 9:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Then the answer is, consequences. It is not uncomfortable enough for him in what he is doing and more comfortable for him to turn in the homework.

Helping to create consequences is not at odds with being supportive and sympathetic--so it can be helpful to take a moment to think about how you will go about it, and to stay or get relaxed and matter-of-fact about it, rather than shouting and tearing your hair out--it is an act of parental love and responsiblity for helping him become more mature, so that at some point we as parents become un-essential (notice I don't say obsolete or un-useful--my DH and I continue to benefit from his parents loving support), but it is at odds with continuing to feel you are completely responsible for his behavior.

The type of consequences I am talking about ARE in fact a form of taking on part of the burden, because they are in fact un-natural. The natural consequences of not turning in homework are the lowered grades, and the natural consequences of that are not getting to go to a target college or maybe not at all. Natural consequences are among the best "teachers" and a good way to avoid conflict and power struggles, and in fact these will be what our young people will face for the rest of their lives, and it is very useful to take advantage of natural consequences as much as possible, because they're so, well, NATURAL; but as parents we can choose to introduce some un-natural consequences when our kids are younger to try to develop internal disciplines that will serve them later.

I am not an expert on this and do not in any way have some kind of perfect model family; I just think the issues going on here can break down along both lines of, make reasonable attempts to individualize life, education, whatever for each kid, because of course we want them to develop their special gifts, and what's right for one kid isn't right for another (even within the same family), and then along with that, there can be some things they just gotta do, and we spend way too much time fretting over it.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 10:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, you can't relive your hs experience through your son and make it right. If your personal experience and that of your husband aren't enough to show you that it has to come from within your son, and that there are indeed natural consequences, then I have no idea what to suggest beyond everything that has already been suggested here.

I personally think your son will mature, whenever that is, just as you did when you matured at 18 or so and began getting good grades, when it became important to you. People develop and mature at different rates and ages, and it will happen for your son in good time.

In the mean time, I hope you can hold your panic over grades at bay. Ultimately, you are raising a fine young citizen. He'll find his way.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 10:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been reading this thread and decided to add my two cents. I've had ADD since childhood. There was no label for it in the 60's, so I floundered as a child (my mother died when I was 2and dad was a laborer and really at a lost as to how to be a parent) and student. Somehow I managed to graduate.

As an adult I know that repetation, habit and making lists help me get things accomplished. My suggestion would be that your son get in the habit putting his homework in the same place everytime and turning in his homework the minute he gets into the classroom. Maybe he could stop at the teacher's desk and pull out the book or folder and drop it and then go sit down. I realize that sometimes the teacher has already started the lesson and he might have to do it at the end of the class. As his mother you might check with him that it's in the proper place before he goes to school. I think that some reinforcement from home might help with his forming the right habits.

Is he back on his medication for his ADHD? Does he get counceling for it? Maybe the therapist help you help him.
His mind is going a mile a minute. I can think of something I want to do while I'm in the shower and get to the kitchen and completely forget what it was until much later.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 12:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OK, I'm quite pragmatic about this sort of issue.

My son did the same sort of thing in middle school - not turning in homework, leaving assignments to the last minute.

I contacted each teacher, and told them I was sending my son with a check-off sheet for each week. They were all amenable to signing off on the sheet. He had to present the sheet to each teacher after homework or tests. All they had to do was make a check mark that the assignment was done. He had to give me the list daily.

If he missed an assignment, his world as he knew it ended. No electricity (although this works better with girls with blow-dryers), which means no TV, no phone, no computer,and in his case, no bike-riding (his passion) until all work was made up and signed off.

You need to find out what motivates your particular child, and make that the carrot. Keep the stick (in my case, electricity, LOL) handy.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 4:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have been following this thread and mentioned it to my DH who is a special ed teacher (EH students). Get this, his administration suggested not asking for homework because it would make the student who didn't have homework to turn feel inadequate. Sounds like we are--well, I will withhold any commentary on this subject.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 8:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mustangs you crack me up! I know what you were going to say!

Mary C we must think alike. I spent some time searching the internet for a student planner for kids like him but what I found was way too complicated. I ended up typing up a simple chart like you describe. Each teacher can initial their block, and he'll have to turn it in to me daily.

His principal sent out an email yesterday to all 8th grade parents (I love this principal!). She said soemthing like, "If you 8th grader tries to tell you he doesn't have homework, he is lying. He will have homework in Geometry and Spanish every night." So the chalenge is getting that homework TURNED IN!

DS can't take ADD meds any longer because we found out last year he as 2 leaking heart valves. All ADD meds are stimulants and stress the heart. Both of his doctors say he can't take the meds ever again with his heart condition.

I did find a great plastic folder at Target today. It's a 2 pocket folder, with a clear folder on the front. He can put "to do" work into the 2 pocket part, and "to turn in" work in the clear pocket. Since it's clear, he will hopefully see it and remember to turn it in.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 10:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The natural consequences of not turning in homework are the lowered grades, and the natural consequences of that are not getting to go to a target college or maybe not at all. Natural consequences are among the best "teachers" and a good way to avoid conflict and power struggles, and in fact these will be what our young people will face for the rest of their lives, and it is very useful to take advantage of natural consequences as much as possible, because they're so, well, NATURAL; but as parents we can choose to introduce some un-natural consequences when our kids are younger to try to develop internal disciplines that will serve them later.

My problem with NATURAL consequences is, I am not willing to live with them. (In a case like this, I don't really care whether the kid is willing or not; he's a kid, and the consequences are too far away to be real).

I feel perfectly justified in creating some artificially induced ones.

(The natural consequences of running headlong into the street is getting hit by a car; none of us are willing to wait for that, either)

Of course, there's an argument for letting him not get into a good college; then he'll have the life he created for himself. But it just seems like such a harsh consequence.

My youngest was diagnosed w/ inattentive ADHD. Before he got the meds, he DID get on track, when the consequences were dire (we took every single toy away and made him earn them back).

So, at least for my kid, he COULD fight past his ADD when he cared enough. The anxiety was pretty high, but he did it.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 11:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am a big fan of UN-natural consequences for kids. I was just pointing out that we should take advantage of the natural ones whenever we can and create consequences that are as simple as possible.

If you look at a lot of parent-child interactions, you can find examples of our protecting our kids from very safe, not-that important natural consequences because WE don't want to feel the reverberations of our kids' "pain" (they usually find a way to share the pain!), and because it is very often more convenient for us to have our lives run smoothly rather than disrupted by the stuff that happens when kids don't do what they are supposed to.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 9:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had an insight while looking at Trapper Keepers today. For ADD kids, THE SIMPLER THE BETTER!!! Too many pockets, folders, etc are just overwhelming for them.

I bought my son a plain 3" binder (plus the plastic folder I described above). It's all he needs - no extra pockets, etc. It's all in sight and all in his face all the time.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 9:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I started reading this string the other day and was going to post a comment, but I was interrupted. Mommabird, you said exactly what I was going to say when you basically said, I don't care about how my son feels, it's the rule and he's going to follow it. I am glad to see that there is a parent out there with that attitude.

I have a very good friend from college who has been a 5th grade teacher for about 17 years now. Every so often I ask her if she still likes teaching and here's her reply: "The best thing about teaching is the kids. The worst thing about teaching is the parents of the kids". She has shared some unbelievable stories about parents who, among other things, threaten her with physical harm because she makes kids follow the rules.

Mommabird, I'm with the approach you are setting out. My now 16 year old niece had this same problem. My sister threatened, grounded, yelled - all that helped. But what ultimately worked best was my sister taking away my niece's ipod, something that my niece purchased for herself and which was more valuable to her than food and shelter. One consecutive month of turning in homework and the ipod was returned.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 10:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is somewhat OT but relevant to an earlier poster's comment about parents protecting kids from things that will not truly harm them.

I have been practicing pediatric ophthalmology for 13 years. I have seen a major evolution in child behavior in the office, even in toddlers whose lives have changed some, but not overwhelmingly, in response to gadgets. I can best sum it us as saying that kids don't seem to have faith that parents control the environment. Lacking this faith, they don't have corollary operating principles: you will do this because I say so, this will not hurt you because I say so.

I see parents protecting their children so ferociously from 'feeling bad', and of course this is unsuccessful by definition, and all it shows the kid is that the parent can't control anything. In fact the kid is in control. BAD idea.

Life is always filled with stupid activities and rules we wish didn't apply to us. Homework is elementary education's equivalent of 'paperwork'. Kids who don't turn in their homework are resisting the concept of "because I say so".

I am completely shocked every Fall by the staff members who won't let their kids ride the bus. Not because anything terrible HAS happened to the kid. Because of "stories". But life is a lot like a bus ride, you never know who you'll end up sitting next to and you better be prepared to deal.

Ultimately these kids end up lacking in a whole constellation of ordinary life skills.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 6:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

rileysmom, that is a great way to put it--"this will not hurt you because I say so" is as important as "watch out, this will hurt you". Or even, "this will not hurt you ENOUGH for it to be important enough to protect you from it--I have confidence that you can decide about that and what you want to do about it. You can trust me to protect you from things that I feel you're not yet able to handle and for me as the parent to be wise enough to know the difference (at least a lot of the time!). You can trust me to let you experience small hurts at times so that you can build your own strengths. Like, you won't die from missing a meal if you don't like what we're eating and you don't want to make a sandwich--suit yourself. ( I could never understand the moms who made hamburgers for their kids every night, or similar.) If you don't want to hang up your clothes, I can live with your going out wrinkled or dirty--can you?

Of course it is not always that simple. With "young dolts" (young adults!) I seem to be facing a lot of those issues recently. Such as, hmm, if the gas tank level of the car you have been driving is low, that sounds like a personal problem! But one way I approach the problems if I am fretting is not to automatically assume I must "protect," but to at least ask the question: hmmm, is this better handled as allow consequences, or at least engineer some appropriate consequences, vs. handled as move to protect? So I might ponder it a bit, discuss with DH, with friends in similar situations, or a forum like this.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 6:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

you can find examples of our protecting our kids from very safe, not-that important natural consequences because WE don't want to feel the reverberations of our kids' "pain" (they usually find a way to share the pain!), and because it is very often more convenient for us to have our lives run smoothly rather than disrupted by the stuff that happens when kids don't do what they are supposed to.

I've been mulling on this, and have decided: These situations (where *we* don't want the disruption that comes from the natural consequences) are the very ones for which we should invent some pretty stringent ARTIFICIAL consequences. Instead of just fixing stuff so nobody suffers.

Bcs what happens is, we suffer continuously in small ways.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 1:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been thinking about thelast post a lot. I agree but with one provision. Now that DS is 14, I'm realizing just how short 18 years is, and how brief a time our kids are with us. I'm just not willing to set a really bad "unnatural consequence" and squander our little time left. At the end of our life, the only thing we take with us is the feelings we sent out and took in. I want my kids to have more good than bad in their first 18 years.

And before anyone tells me I'll have 30 year old men still living at home - I've raised them from the cradle with the expectation that they will leave home at 18. The choice is theirs - millitary service, college, work and an apartment, etc - but they WILL leave. That's how my grandparents raised both my parents, that's how my parents raised me. I knew from the time I was 4 or 5 that "home" would always be there, but "home" only until I was 18. For me it was 17 because I graduated from HS early and went on to college, which I paid myself.

I hope I'm giving them life lessons they will need - cleaning, etc - except how to stay organized which has totally escaped me my whole life long!

Risking sounding maudlin, I have lost 5 friends in the last 3 years, all of whom had kids the same ages as mine. 3 were Sudden Cardiac Arrest with no warning, one was suicide, and one was a 5 year battle with cancer. So I have a very different perspective on the time I have with my kids than I did 3 years ago. My best friend died in 2005, leaving her daughter who was 11 at the time (14 now). My best friend is my inspiration because she lived her life with nothing to regret - she was the most loving person I have ever met, and the most loving mother. Loving doesn't mean she was a doormat or a sap - just the opposite. But the time she had with her daughter had so many more good moments than bad for both of them.

DS update - the school year as gotten off to a great start, the energy in the school is soooo positive this year! He's keeping to his planner every day, turning in homework, etc. So maybe he just needed a year to grow up a little.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 9:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mommabird, I meant to ask you if you'd considered the placebo version of Ritalin...?

(just kidding--or, thinking that the placebo version would inspire DS to tap into any of the organizational methods he used to cope w/ his ADHD, bcs I believe our kids get them going, along w/ the meds)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hi---i just had to comment even tho i mostly just peruse this site for helpful tidbits....
i have 3 boys-the oldest- by far- has always been my most challenging. his activity level was always extremely high, he was very bright and always did well in elem school, even tho homework notices were a common place thing! i knew he had add, but i never really worried because he wasn't a behavior problem so i thought he'd be ok.... i was DEADSET against medicating him and would read "medicine free" kid books to help me justify my decision. it wasn't until middle school when we moved and he entered that "surly, sedentary and silent" mode of adolescence that issues began to really arise re: grades....and homework.... instead of previous issues of "where was the homework that had been done" and procrastination of projects, papers, etc,etc, etc., he began to find homework worthless and stupid and began to choose not to do it at all. we sent him to a small private hs hoping that would help him.... and, in his junior year he finally began stimulant meds, which helped him focus more in classes and helped him remember deadlines, etc abit more... his grades improved somewhat.... but the whole homework issue i decided was a choice/behavior he made over the years in a very complex, probably passive-aggressive way a gaining some type of control... over us, teachers, who knows....and not doing homework sortof became "who he was"....
he did graduate in june, did get into college, is off to give that a try!!! he remains a good guy who definitely needs to figure out how to get things done on his terms. i think (hope) his being on his own will be good for him......
i know many kids with add also have parents with add....i know i definitely could be diagnosed with it....and it's hard for me to try to fit into the structure of having kids and trying to teach them how to be successful in a highly structured environment of school because i'm highly disorganized and unstructured, etc,etc,etc...but i'm also spontaneous and adaptable and work best under pressure. i've learned how to cope thru the years... well enough...and my best grades were by far in grad school when i was alittle older and married!.... but it's very difficult to watch you're own kids who perhaps march to the beat of a different drummer---especially if you live in a highly competitive area i think!!! i have attended gifted underacheiver's conferences and workshops and am "getting it" now at least! josh shaine also has a helpful essay on gifted underacheiver's on line which doesn't provide answers, but is very heartening.
my youngest son, also 14, also has add and i am insisting as he begins hs that he be involved in sports, because i think physical activity is very important for kids/people with add. he doesn't have homework resistance at this point, but should he "develop" it, i vow not to let it become such a struggle..........

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 9:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm late to this conversation, but my DS is also ADHD and in middle school. He just turned 12 at the start of the school year and he is in 7th grade. Last year was such a struggle for him in exactly the same way as the OP's DS. He has always scored in the 99th percentile(was invited to the Johns Hopkins summer program,) but was pulling very low grades in school. It turned out that he was getting 0s on hw. We would check his agenda vs the online blackboard and make sure that it was in his backpack in the morning, but it wasn't getting turned in. We instituted new organizational tools with little success. We tried talking to his teachers with little success. His spanish teacher point blank said that it was not her responsibility to ask for hw.

What worked is a combination of many things. We changed his diet. We now eat gluten-free and have eliminated red dyes and most refined sugar. He now carries an accordian folder all day to all his classes. His hw is placed in the labeled slot. If there is something in the subject's slot it needs to be turned in.(I don't know why this works better than placing it in his binder, but it does) With the help of the guidance office, his teachers sent home weekly reports the last 14 weeks of the school year. If there was a hw 0, we knew about it and were on top of it right away. By the end of the year, we were confident that we could go w/out the weekly reports in the new year.

This year he is running modified cross country as well as playing rec football and is forced to stay more organized due to the time constraints.

BTW, I do not think people who give their kids the meds are poisoning their kids or any such nonsense. It's just that DS is a 74lb 12yo and all of the stim meds are appetite suppressants. It takes so much to put weight on him. I'd hate to see the needle go backwards on the scale.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 12:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Baffled about the homework thing: I recollect that my teachers always asked for homework to be turned in at the beginning of class. I mean, they wanted it all at once in a stack. The deal was, you coudn't turn it in later with an "I forgot". What is this weird "responsibility" power play going on with teachers and kids and homework? By not asking for it, the teacher so totally devalues it! No wonder the kids don't do it!

I've read all these posts and it seems like handing in homework is the trip wire for so many kids. If the homework is asked for, then it is unassailably the fault of the child if it is not handed in. At that point consequences can be personal and severe. Instead, parents are spending lots of time and angst arranging for binders and peachies and tricks etc to get this handing in process to occur. I don't get it.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

By not asking for it, the teacher so totally devalues it! No wonder the kids don't do it!

I agree w/ this.

I also think that many kids--mine especially, who are really very obedient--follow the teacher's lead. If he/she never says "now is homework," they're going to be listening to the lecture, getting out their books, etc. He/she needs to create a moment for handing it in.

We do that at meetings--pass out the schedule. It's sort of "on the agenda." If it's supposed to be handed in apart from a meeting, that's fine, then it's on the worker/student to get it in whenever on that day.

I think my kid would probably do *better* with that, than w/ this "structure of the classroom / no, not structured, remember it yourself" hybrid.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 3:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, rileysmom, I agree that the point used to be, you couldn't "cheat" and do it during class or bring it at the end of the day, you had to turn it in then, and so I have been totally mystified by the shift to not asking for it to be turned in, unless the poster who recalled that some teachers thought it might make someone "uncomfortable" was right and the schools have gone beyond their already incredible PC, into some parallel universe.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 6:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Being a therapist, I always look for the "why". Why would a kid who participates and works hard, not want credit? Is it uncool to turn in your work? Being so tall, does he feel he stands out and gets too much attention (could make sense with wanting to e-mail homework)? Does he not like to be evaluated? Do his friends turn in their work on time? Then the next question, to me is, at what point should a parent give up? Sometimes it's not worth the arguing (if there is any) and sometimes kids just have to figure out on their own if it is worth handing things in. Most parents don't have as much influence once the kids are in college, so kids have to figure out how to get it done themselves at some point. I know that is hard to do, especially if we want our kids to get into good colleges, they need the high standardized test scores AND the grades. But I agree about your point about adults at work. Every two weeks I get TWO email reminders to turn in my time card...and sometimes I still manage to forget!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 8:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

After reading all the posts here, I gotta put in my 2 cents.

A former co-worker was called by the high school principal to let her know her son was truant. Not absent, but truant. So, the next day she drove her son to school, parked the car, and informed him she was attending class with him to make sure he was in school. She only had to do it one day and he never skipped school again.

If it was my son, I would let him know what the expectations were for him...he must complete his homework and he must turn it in. Also, I would let him know that 'tomorrow, I'm going to accompany you to school to observe that these expectations are met." You will only have to do it once. He can then decide for himself which he prefers, handling it on his own, or having you guide and help him. No doubt in my mind which he'll pick.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 11:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have two sons who have ADD, and I have also taught public school for 35 years (the end is in sight!) so have experience on both the teacher and parent end.

OP, your son should have a 504 plan, which will accommodate him where he needs it. Who is to say that all children develop lock-step in the same way at the same time? There is a large range of "normal," and many teachers are so myopic in following their own rules that the child is often lost in the shuffle.

The 504 plan is very specific. It states what the accommodation is, and who is responsible. It can include a plan for a particular difficulty. For example, maybe the child needs more time on tests. Why shouldn't a child have this? Is the objective to see what the child has LEARNED or to see how fast s/he can take a test?

The homework plan can start with teacher reminders, and gradually wind down until the child is in a routine of turning in the homework. ADD students need structure. Part of their education is for them to learn how to learn and how to compensate for a deficit. In fact, we ALL have deficits and some of us have learned to compensate and some haven't.

Some students don't test well, for whatever reason. Then there should be other options to evaluate what s/he knows. Some students have severe dyslexia and learn best by listening to their texts on CD. They have to be accommodated because of IDEA, and most likely have an IEP. But most ADD students who need accommodations are on a 504 plan. It should be evaluated at least once a year, sometimes more frequently.

Students with poor vision are accommodated with corrective eye glasses. Should we say to them, "If you just TRY harder you will see better," or "I will allow you to suffer the natural consequences of your poor vision," or "If you don't improve your vision on your own then I am going to invent some consequences so that you will change your behavior!"

A teacher who refuses to help a student improve by simply asking for his homework "because the rule is for him to remember it on his own" should be fired. These kinds of rules are meant to be broken. If the rule is not helpful, then throw it out. And yes, it IS okay to have different rules for different students. How is it unfair to Susie, who turns in her homework without a prompt, when Johnny DOES need a prompt to turn it in? Is the goal to have the homework turned in or is the goal to trip up students who may need this extra prompt? And if the goal is to turn the homework in, then why not ask ALL students for it at the beginning of the class period?

I send myself reminder emails all the time. It frees me from trying to remember everything that needs to be done (like turning in homework) and ensures that I don't forget. A student who is bright and easily distracted needs that prompt - in this case, from the teacher. The student needs to be helped in learning how to compensate. In the meantime, why should he be punished for not remembering? Any more than a student should be punished for not being able to see well!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 11:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a 14 year old... not a 4 year old!

A student that age should be able to turn in homework on his own.
It takes three weeks to learn a new habit... so the habit of turning in homework every day should be learned well before the first report card.
If he needs a visual clue... write "Turn in HOMEWORK!" in bold colorful letters on the cover of every book/binder/notebook. Bet he will catch on quickly.

These skills should be ingrained by now.
How will the student ever survive on his own in college ( a mere 4 years away....) if he does not have the basics learned?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 11:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

amntyler, bspofford, westernpaluann, and all others who feel they need to call the original poster's parenting skills into question: BACK OFF

The fact that she was asking this forum for help shows that she is an involved parent constantly looking for ways to help her kid(s) and improve on her parenting repertoire. It always astounds me when people tell me that ADHD is a made-up disorder and that boys are just boys. There are set criteria for a diagnosis for both hyperactivity and inattention ADD. My ADHD son (before we got a handle on his diet) was an absolute ping pong ball of energy, literally bouncing off walls. I had to take him to the emergency room on 4 separate occasions for stitches because he was bleeding so badly from running into walls/tables/counters. One scar in his right eyebrow, one in his left crease above the eye, one above his ear, one at the base of his skull(ran into and bounced off the wall into a table behind him) Don't tell me he's just a boy who needs some structure, if you don't know the situation. This is a child who has been in organized sports since he was 4 - baseball, lacrosse, soccer, football, karate. We also encourage unorganized physical activity(don't even have cable tv) and he still had energy to burn.

Inattention ADD means that these kids physically don't have the brain chemistry to remember to do things that other kids have no problem doing. Before we hit on the gluten-free, red dye free, etc. diet, we had dished out severe punishments regularly to no avail. I am not a pushover parent. If I say "If this, then that," you can bet your arse that "that" will happen. We had put him on lock down for a month(in his room, no friends, no entertainment-tv, etc. pulled from room,)assigned 3pg singlespaced essays, taken away priveleges, gone to school with him. He physically could not remember to do things. He was not being willful. He just couldn't get things done. Again this is a child invited to the Johns Hopkins summer program every year for his excellent test scores. It's easy to be sanctimonious from the outside looking in. Try it from the inside.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 2:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

laxsupermom.....if you will read the original post by this frustrated mother, you will see she wrote

"Can anyone help? What has worked for you with your kids?"

She admitted being at her wit's end and needing ideas.

As far as my response, she herself brought this up in her original post, and I told of the friend's experience to support that as a possibility.

This can be an emotionally charged issue, and I think it hits close to home for you because of your situation. However, she knows her kid better than anyone else, and she should be able to ponder, pick, and choose what she feels might work for her child.

I think your 'back off' is inappropriate.


    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"amntyler, bspofford, westernpaluann, and all others who feel they need to call the original poster's parenting skills into question: BACK OFF"

How 'bout if you "BACK OFF"!

I NEVER called the OP's parenting skills into question. Quit trying to stir up trouble where there is none.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 4:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh my! What a lot of anger this poor person stirred up without trying to-...
If I may put my experience in.

About the same time- maybe it was more like 6th grade, my advanced classes daughter started doing some of the same- homework would not get done no matter how I swung the pendulum- being absolutely strict- on her every move, thinking that she needed to be responsible for herself, to not doing a thing- let her suffer the aftermath... This was with the assistance of the school counselor. Nothing worked. The straight A kid had C's and a D.
Finally, she seemed to get a bit better, then did well in high school.
I tell you this,NOT saying that your child has the same problem, but just letting you know what can be out there.
My daughter is a compulsive liar now, and has been for several years. She is in middle adult life, and I have talked several times to a psychologist about her- describing what has happened in the past and currently. The psychologist believes that she is a sociopath. She has gone over with me all the things that I missed as a parent- that I should have picked up on, but thought my daughter was just being a stubborn child/teen. My daughter is very bright- holds a very good job with a large corporation- but I missed the signs. Obviously it is more complicated than just this part.
The lack of motivation except if she wanted to do something, lying, being as nice as can be were a very small part.
I just want you to not do as I did- pass up the signs of something deeper than a lazy kid. I hope this is not your case- be careful though- get some professional help to see if it is just a phase or if something else is starting to show up.
Good luck- it is a difficult time.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 12:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

westernpa, bspofford, etc: I apologize if I jumped the gun and read meaning that wasn't there. Comparing a 14yr old to a 4yr old seemed like a slap in the face, though I'm sure now that that wasn't the intent. The written word can often seem harsher than the spoken one. It is often difficult not to become defensive when hearing what your child "should be able to do." To use bmrbabe's analogy, you can't tell a sight impaired child that they "should be able to" see the board and leave it at that.

My 13yo has a 100 average in trig this year(thank you, modified diet) and many of his friends are still struggling with algebra. I would never think to say that they "should be able to" do trig if they just studied harder. I would never tell a size 16 woman that she "should be able to" fit into my size 2 jeans if she'd just get off the couch, because I don't know if she has a thyroid problem or may be taking prednisone for an auto-immune disease.

ilmbg, thanks for your post. I'm glad you're daughter is doing well, though what a scary proposition. My heart is with you. We have in the past had concerns of the same regard with our 13yo. His psychologist assures us that he is not a sociopath or even borderline personality disorder. Just the ADHD. I oftentimes compare him to schizophrenics/bipolar/etc. as far as med compliance. We don't use the meds, but he is on such a strict diet that every now and again he'll go off the wagon. He/they start to feel so normal and in control that they think they can handle the disease all on their own. They go off their meds/He has 2 slices of pizza and a couple of hohos at a friends. After semi-crazed behavior than a crash he/they realize they need to get back on the program. The upside of all this is that my 13yo knows how to decipher a nutritional label better than most adults.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 5:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"The upside of all this is that my 13yo knows how to decipher a nutritional label better than most adults. "

See... HE learned what he needs to do!
The same can be said for a 14 year old needing to turn in homework....

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 6:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm going to pretend that was said tongue-in-cheek and that you just left off the emoticons. To do otherwise would be to admit that there are adults who are so dense or uncharitable to have not been able to understand the previous explanation of inattention ADD as a disorder characterized by the inability, not unwillingness, to do items in a sequence due to atypical brain chemistry. Learning is not a problem with my child or many other ADHD children. Organized sequential action, however, is very difficult. The inspiration for the absent minded professor was probably an ADHD person. Brain scans of ADHD children, in fact, show significantly different blood flow patterns than that of a typical child. Due to a heart condition, the OP's son can not take the drugs that would normally correct the brain chemistry difference.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 7:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As a constant lurker this post has drawn me out and I feel compelled to respond. In my career as both a middle school regular, special education educator and currently a supervisor what the OP is describing a very typical behavior of both regular and special education students regardless of their disabilities. Middle schoolers do all sorts of silly, frustrating, or just plan dumb things, and as a supervisor I have found that adults often do the same things. We can look for reasons to blame, to punish or we can choose to help and remember we ALL have something we find difficult and challenging. As an educator and a supervisor it is unbelievable that h.w. isn't requested to be placed in a designated spot as the students enter the room. That is just good practice and removes yet another conflict point that abound in our students. Arent we all involved with the Organizing Forum because we have some challenges?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 8:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mommabird, how is it going for DS and the homework issue. Your post of 9/2 was very positive. I hope he has maintained and even progressed in resolving this issue.

laxsupermom, thank you for responding.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 10:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

laxsupermom - I have also read studies that MRIs of brains of ADD people show that they have a different ratio of white matter to grey matter. ADD people's brains have more white matter & less grey matter than "normal" people's brains. So now researchers think ADD is a combination of brain chemistry & brain structure.

And good point about sequencing problems. DS also has Sensory Integration Dysfunction, which involves motor planning dysfunction. SID is common to premies (he was 2 months premature). People with SID are litterally missing brain synapses that form in late term gestation, and cannot form after birth. For many people with SID, the motor planning centers of their brains are missing. That means instead of automatically walking up to a door and reaching out to grab the knob with the hand closest to the door jamb, people with SID have to make concious decisions about which actions to take "now I'm at a door - do I reach out with my left hand or my right hand?" type of stuff. It is a very real disability and takes A LOT of energy to just get through the day that those of us who have these automatic sense take for granted. Sometimes he has comical moments where the absense of motor planning ability results in something funny, but mostly it's just painful to see. Also add in that he wears a size 14 shoe and it's a lot for him to cope with.

Anyway, I didn't mean to spark a philosophical debate about the reality of ADD on the forum - I am WAY past that argument! If you haven't lived it, you just can't even imagine. I just wanted hints on helping my kid out. Thanks to goodness, this year he's doing better - so another year of maturity has helped.

And please give middle schoolers a break - they are little kids in big bodies. 12 to 14 is still very, very young and it seems adults tend to forget that only having 12 to 14 years on the Earth isn't much experience.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 9:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"The upside of all this is that my 13yo knows how to decipher a nutritional label better than most adults. "
See... HE learned what he needs to do!
The same can be said for a 14 year old needing to turn in homework....

Western_pa_luanne--*HE* didn't learn what he needs to do *on his own,* without help.

I have to say, I had much the same reaction as laxsupermom.

Fine, sure, scold. It sure didn't help my kid. Medication did.

When you've *lived with* a child who has one of these problems, then you can pronounce nice, harsh, blanket statements.

Like magic, almost.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 10:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Western_pa_luanne--*HE* didn't learn what he needs to do *on his own,* without help. "

Didn't say he did... just said it was learned. He was able to develop that skill.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 8:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well back to the OP's O topic...because school issues come up so often in my practice I read books like John Rosemond's "Ending the Homework Hassle". I have lots of kids with attentional disorders in my practice too. Since kids with and without attentional disorders can display "homework truculence" or "homework apathy" it is not entirely correct from a scientific perspective to say that all homework problems in kids with ADD/ADHD are attention-related. Maybe the flip side is what I am trying to get at, which is that the homework management methods that work for non-ADD kids may very well work with ADD kids.

Rosemond's system is based on the concept of personal responsibility backed up with persuasive consequences. He would applaud the mom who went to school with her truant son. Copies are available used on Amazon for 1 cent. If anyone else has read this book I would be interested in your opinion.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 5:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi mommabird. I am not a teacher but I have worked with many teachers as well as parents to develop solutions for students' problems. First, I want to tell you that I am impressed with the time and energy that you have invested in helping your son cope with his ADHD and (probably related) school problems. If you will allow me, I'd like to share some of my thoughts with you.

Often, kids who are very intelligent can coast through the first several years of school without paying much attention and without learning effective study or work habits. When they get into the middle and upper grades and success becomes more dependent on using effective strategies, they don't have the necessary skills.

The teacher who recommended a 504 plan makes an excellent point. However the IET offered by the school can have similar results. While an IEP would modify instruction for a student with learning problems, a 504 plan would provide accommodations once a disability has been documented. A school can accept your physician's report or choose to provide their own evaluation. It would not be at all difficult to obtain testing. They can't exactly refuse, especially since you can document interventions that have been attempted. However, sometimes the formal testing process tells us nothing new, but might defer solutions until the IEP meeting, thus wasting valuable time.

When a parent says "The BIGGEST problem is the teachers ALL have an attitude of "it's not my job to remind them to turn in their homework.'",I often wonder if something has been lost in the translation, especially since you haven't told us that a teacher actually used the phrase "it's not my job". It is my opinion that most teachers would like to help kids learn good organization strategies but their hands are tied administratively and by the need to follow a demanding curriculum. If most of their students are turning in homework, you probably would have some trouble blaming the teachers. I will, however, state emphatically that to lower a grade is never, never, never an effective way of dealing with missed homework. They need to find a better way. Also, most teachers will not dismiss homework as busy work. They are answerable to a supervisor or department head and must be able to justify all assignments.

I like the story of the niece won back her ipod in a month. One suggestion I would make for most kids is to let them win it back gradually with a reward of 30 minutes for each day of homework increasing daily. Many kids can't wait very long for reinforcement. And justgotabme gives us some insight with her comments: "He never could explain why he found it easier to remember to turn in work done on the computer, but I always thought he felt more comfortable with how it looked."

You say that you "TRIED EVERYTHING!!!", and it appears that you have. Just make sure that you try any strategy for at least 2 weeks before you think it has not worked. Sometimes kids refusing to complete or turn in work is a form of rebellion that they're not aware of themselves. I truly hope all this helps.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 2:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Blanche - I have had more than one teacher say directly to me, It's not my job to remind kids to turn in their homework.

Overall I'm thrilled with the middle school. His 6th grade year was the principal's first year. He's in 8th now and the principal is starting to make some very effective changes. One of the changes she made this year is a blanket rule for all teachers that all homework assignments can only be worth 1 point, and that not turning in homework can only lower the final term grade by 1/2 a grade. So the situation where my son got 100's on every Algebra exam last year, but missed a bunch of homework so he got a C, cannot happen this year. The principal wants to make sure the kids are actually learning the subject, which is evidenced more by tests than homework. Homework is reinforcement work, tests are evaluations.

I just LOVE this principal. She is very into evidenced based education, not just doing things the way they have always been done.

Did I mention I have 2 younger sons also, and the youngest makes the oldest look like he as a long attention span! I dread middle school when the youngest gets there!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 10:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, mommabird, I'm sorry that teachers have chosen those words because it sounds so defensive, doesn't it? I wish teachers would find better words to make that point. But then again, they are correct in that they are not paid to nag the students and they know that chronic reminders usually don't pay off. The fact is that most kids are expected to have certain skills by certain grades, and the mechanism often doesn't exist for teaching those skills to kids who didn't pick them up along with peers, especially the more intelligent kids. I have at times asked system-wide administrators exactly how and when they teach homework skills, and seen them stammer out an awkward response.

It's great to hear that you love the current principal, and that "all homework assignments can only be worth 1 point, and that not turning in homework can only lower the final term grade by 1/2 a grade". That policy may be key to turning things around.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 1:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"It's great to hear that you love the current principal, and that "all homework assignments can only be worth 1 point, and that not turning in homework can only lower the final term grade by 1/2 a grade". That policy may be key to turning things around."


I can see someone complaining that their child does not test well... and that homework should count for more!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 4:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know what point western pa luann was trying to make by LOL-ing my comments. The reality is that there are plenty of kids who reportedly "do not test well". But the answer is certainly not for homework to "count for more". Rather, the answer is to identify the underlying cause and to treat that cause. In the short term, the student can be allowed to use other means of demonstrating (in a measurable way) that they have learned the material while strategies are being used to treat the underlying problem, but the alternative means of measurement is not a substitute for intervention.

For kids who don't test well due to anxiety or other problems as well as those who can't turn in homework, an organized and predictable environment is always an important component of successful interventions. This is true for the school environment as well as the home environment.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 12:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I quoted your comment.
I LOL'd my own....

Sorry that wasn't clear!

But while I am here...
"But the answer is certainly not for homework to "count for more". Rather, the answer is to identify the underlying cause and to treat that cause."

Curious as to why that should not be the case for the OP.
Why should the homework now count for less, rather that ID the cause and treat that cause? Why change the entire system for all the kids?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 1:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You know what... never mind the above post.

This is an organizing board, and no place for educational debates.
I'll keep on-topic now, rather than risk getting this thread deleted.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 1:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, luann. I also am sorry for the confusion. Yes, it seems pretty much off-topic, but there is indeed a direct relationship between organization at home and homework completion problems. Lack of organization in our home or office often affects our performance. Organizational problems like losing keys, documents, etc will at the very least slow us down, but can also result in poor performance or inability to complete a task. And there is a relationship between organization and anxiety. If we can't find something we need or must knock over a bunch of boxes or rifle through papers, we can become anxious. May not be true for everyone, but is true for many people. Lack of predictability can also create or increase anxiety for some kids. That's why I stated that an organized, predictable environment is so important.

Also, if you don't mind, I'd like to address your question about homework. I feel very strongly that kids must not be penalized for missing homework to any significant degree. A poor homework record must never affect a grade more than a little. What often happens is that the kids get discouraged and give up, causing them to fail. Giving "zero" scores for missing homework is a too punitive and a very bad policy. So, homework "counting for less" is for the benefit of all students. I did not advocate changing the system for one kid. And yes, you are correct in that they need to ID and treat the cause.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 5:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just wanted to say that I agree with Frankie's line of thinking. My nephew sounds so much like the OP that she could be my sister posting a couple of years ago. She was able to get help thru my nephew's coaches- ie if he did not get a good enough grade, then he was benched or had to run laps, etc. However, it did nothing to teach him responsibility for himself. This lack of self-initiative showed its ugly head first semester of college, in which he failed and lost out on his scholarship. He was directionless for several years and just last fall finally woke up and realized he could be successful or a failure...his choice. He is back in college now, and I hope he has finally grown up. Again, I agree w/ Frankie in that we need to let kids see the natural and un-natural consequences so they can be responsible adults.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 8:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am with you 100%. My son too is in the local APP program, In 7th grade and doing pre collage things. Very smart but will not hand in homework, I watch him do the homework but when I get his progress reports there is all these NHI (not handed in) on the report. I have taken things away, I have put him on restriction, and nothing seems to work. When you ask him why he doesn't know why he cant hand the assigements in?? I had him read your letter and he still insist that he has no idea why he does not hand in homework. I too need help, because like you it is starting to effect his grades.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 4:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My son had the same ADHD problem, along with a heart murmur that kept him from being able to take his medicine. His high school years were terrible! I was constantly logging into the grading system to track what was going on. The good news is that he is now a very successful professional at the age of 25.

I think you should meet with the guidance counselor and make an arrangement in light of your son's disability. For example, could you buy a scanner for his homework and scan it into a PDF document at night, and email it to each teacher in the evening? Then, they would have it "on time" and he could work on remembering to turn the hard copy in the next day. Don't be silent about this because it will only get worse. The school needs to work with you on this. Also, I remember that we did try a blue-green algae supplement for a while from our natural foods store, that did help my son's concentration skills while not affecting his heart. You might do some research on that.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 1:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I realize it's 5 years later, but I am posting my experiences for anyone else who may be reading this thread.

I am a parent of a middle-school boy with attention-type ADHD. He was diagnosed in 4th grade and has been on medication since the last marking period of 4th grade.

Yes, middle school teachers in general expect a student to turn in homework without being reminded. The students also have to take initiative to discover what work was missed during an absence (classwork and homework) and make up that work as well. All without teacher reminders. For my son, with ADHD and braces, who missed a lot of classes for dental appointments, this could have been a *disaster*.

Medications can help. They can help enormously. And there are a whole class of stimulant medications that wear off by the end of the day, thus appetite returns and growth is not inhibited. Metadate is one; my son takes this with very positive results.

Another thing that helps is ORGANIZATION. I have really got to hand it to our school system here in Maryland. Our 6th graders are assigned a binder system. The school has created a layout for how the 6th grade binder should look - where the notebook paper goes, how many tabbed dividers there should be and how they are labelled, where the pencil pouch should be and what is in it, sections for each school subject. Fantastic. They also are given an agenda book that they are required to fill in every day. It covers homework for each class and a section for brief notes or reminders.

Our schools also have a program called AVID that begins in middle school. During AVID class, the binders are checked for neatness and adherence to the organizational system. Students are graded on their organization! The agendas are also checked to make sure they are being filled out properly and consistently. The kids are also taught how to take notes, how to study, and how to work through a problem that you don't understand, be it math or ancient Egypt. They work in small groups to work through these types of problems and answer each other's questions. I highly highly recommend it!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So much said earlier but this kind of question really arises in our society and it will clearly define the way you want to do this things and mentality of person.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 1:09AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Large closet advice
I'm turning a spare bedroom into a dressing room and...
Why I look in the box before tossing
One of the boxes I recently sorted through was marked...
Where to donate a 15yo nebulizer
Years ago, when my now-17-y-o was a little one, he...
The ultimate organizer
Two words: WORKSHOP PEGBOARD !!!!!! :)
Anyone know of good boxes (plastic?) for storing papers?
I've been purging DD's school work and paper crafts...
Sponsored Products
Persian Heriz Red Veg Dyed 3' X 12' Geometric Hand Knotted Wool Serapi Rug H5247
BH Sun Inc
Super Chill Hot/Cold Party Set
$149.95 | FRONTGATE
Alchemy Glass | Pure Gold Drop-In Oval Sink
$5,800.00 | YBath
Vistosi | Moris PP 40 Flush Mount Ceiling Light
$333.00 | YLighting
Tech Lighting | Baxter Ceiling Light
$350.40 | YLighting
Authentic Models MF077 Stateroom Armoire Ivory
Beyond Stores
Woodson Leather Sofa - Brighton Black Black
Joybird Furniture
Crosley Archiver USB Turntable - CR6001A-BK
$179.99 | Hayneedle
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™