Completing Homework – 4 Secrets

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How to get Students Completing Homework on a Regular Basis

If you have no clue what it means to be frustrated by students who make a habit of not completing homework, then this blog is not for you. However, if you have often wondered what else you can do to get your students completing homework on a regular basis, then these 4 secrets are for you!

Completing Homework is ultimately about Compliance. The dictionary defines Compliance as "the action or fact of complying with a wish or a command". As Teachers, I think we have all wished that we could command our students to comply by completing homework as assigned.

As a Foster Parent to special needs children, my goal is to get them to do what they are supposed to do. I am going to share with you some secrets that I learned from fostering over 115 children in the past 14 years.

Completing Homework Secret #1 - Compliance Through Choice

Completing Homework on the CouchSome children like to be in control, or at least feel like they are in control. These are often the children who, when asked to do a simple task, will simply say "no". Why? Because you told them to do something, so automatically they don't want to do it.

Compliance Through Choice involves simply giving the student a choice. "Would you like to complete 3 pages of homework this week or 4?". It becomes their choice, not yours.

At home, this choice could be "Do you want to complete your homework on the couch or at the table?"

Completing Homework Secret #2 - Compliance Through Challenge

Completing Homework - ChallengeNot every child responds to positive praise and encouragement. Some children only rise to a challenge.

Compliance Through Challenge involves challenging (or betting) a student - pretending that you don't think that they can (or will) do it. "I bet that you cannot complete 3 pages of homework this week...and there is no way in the world that you can do all 4 pages!"

The child then becomes determined to prove you wrong. (Be warned - they might come to their next lesson with 6 completed pages.)

Completing Homework Secret #3 - Compliance Through Competition

Completing Homework with StickersSome children like to win, even when it is not a race.

Compliance Through Competition involves allowing a child to simply compete with themselves. So, make a game of it!

My studio wall is covered with construction paper - each shape has the name of a student and for every page of theory completed, they get to put a sticker on their paper.

There is no competition. I don't count stickers. But I sure do know my students who do comply through competition as they know exactly who has the most stickers and you can bet they are going to do their best to catch up.

Completing Homework Secret #4 - Compliance Through Compromise

Completing Homework - With SupportFor many children, having to complete even one page of theory all by themselves at home is just too much for them to handle.

Compliance Through Compromise involves helping the child work through one or two parts of each question with you - you will do some questions together and then they get to do some questions at home.

By compromising, you are understanding and supporting the special learning or emotional needs of the child and building up their self-confidence. One day they won't need you to compromise and they will be completing homework without any help.

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”

Ignacio Estrada

P.S. - Join the Conversation. Please share any tips that have worked for you to Achieve Compliance for Completing Homework!

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Keep on Learning... With a Smile and a Song!

Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren

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5 thoughts on “Completing Homework – 4 Secrets”

  • Alice says:

    Excellent post! I’m going to be sharing it in my studio newsletter. Alice

  • Betty says:

    FABULOUS insights – some of which I’ve used successfully! Betty

  • Aimee says:

    Nice ideas, Shelagh. Thanks, Aimee

    • Cynthia says:

      I agree with Aimee. The ideas do work. One of my favorite lessons is the introduction to natural, harmonic and melodic minors. We get to veer off and discuss the “fives and twos” of whole and half steps in Major, natural minor and other modes. When the kids see it as a recipe – they get excited to do their homework. This is especially true if we make time to improvise a bit with the modes. So- I guess some respond to a creative element they control in their theory and to “secret insights from the past”. Cynthia

  • Dorothy says:

    These are going into my “implement immediately” file! Dorothy

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