Column – Monitor work to ensure students complete assignments

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2023

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She was genuinely surprised when I told her that her son had been weeks behind in his school assignments. “He’s caught up now,” I said. “It took him about three hours, but I walked him through what is expected on each assignment, waited while he completed them, and answered questions about what some of the directions meant. Then I showed him where to look on the school Internet page for all future assignments.”

She repeated that she had no idea that he was behind in his homework and expressed hope that he would keep up with his assignments in the future. Unfortunately, hoping your student stays up to date with schoolwork isn’t an effective strategy.

The first step to an effective strategy for helping your student with school is to be aware of what homework is given and of the expectations for each class. Most schools, especially middle schools and high schools, have a website for students and a website for parents. Both of these sites can be reviewed for homework assignments, a syllabus and grades. A daily check for paper homework assignments may be needed if these sites are unavailable at a particular school.

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These websites are a great way to know what is due and when, but they only help you help your student if you monitor them frequently. Assignments can be updated often, so a review is needed often. These sites can also help you see if there is an area in which your student is struggling. A few minutes each day to review homework assignments, upcoming projects, and posted grades will help you understand where help or encouragement may be needed.

Keeping up to date with homework assignments shouldn’t be entirely your responsibility. Your student must understand how to review the needed work, how it needs to be completed and the due date for each assignment.

Middle school and high school students should be capable of learning how to review their assignments and staying up to date with what is needed. Students should be learning responsibility and understand that it is up to them to ensure they are staying up to date and completing all required assignments.

Students taking responsibility for their own work doesn’t mean that parents should take a hands-off approach. It should be a side-by-side approach. Students will need support, encouragement, and someone to hold them accountable. They may even need correction and consequences to help them along the way.

Every school, family and student is different, so there is no one way to ensure your student is staying up to date in school. However, no matter the school’s communication style and your student’s personality, it will take communication with the school and your student. It will take work on your part, and you must continually ensure that your student is doing what he or she needs to do. You owe it to your student not to allow them to get behind and to do all you can to help them reach their greatest potential.