Have you ever had trouble with your kids turning in their homework?

By the time all our kids were old enough for school, we had established a pretty good homework routine after dinner. It included looking at agendas, answering questions and/or explaining lessons that were still unclear from school that day. Once their homework was completed, it was put away to be turned in the next day. We were far from perfect, but we tried hard to have this be our rhythm Monday through Thursday.

I(Kelli) remember feeling pretty good about our parenting as it pertained to homework. That is until the day we received a call from Tavita’s teacher. Apparently, he had not turned in much of his homework (which we knew he had done) and so his grades were suffering.

Later that day, I couldn’t believe what I found when I was going through his back pack… I was appalled!! He had a binder in his backpack with a handful of papers in it. But the majority of the papers, including all of his completed homework assignments, were literally wadded up and smashed at the bottom of the bag.

I tried to stay calm (I’m not sure how well I did), “Tavita, why isn’t this homework turned in? Your teacher called today. She said your grades are slipping because your homework isn’t turned in! We knew you had finished it… so we couldn’t understand. Now it all makes sense!” (continued below)


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(continued from above) It quickly became apparent we did not have a homework completion or routine problem. What we had, was an organizational problem!! Being an A-type personality, first born, I could not believe I had a child that was not organized!! So I began asking questions, “Do you not know how to organize? Are you in too much of a hurry to put things where they belong in your binder? How can we best help you? Do you know the consequences of receiving bad grades because your work isn’t getting turned in?”

So… we had a “master” session, that included all my elementary children, around our table. We covered the merits of binder organization and explained how much time they would save, and how they wouldn’t lose privileges. Finally, we came up with the trigger, “No loose papers”.

The front pocket of their binder would be for work to be turned in and the back pocket for papers I needed to see. I encouraged them to put the rest of the papers behind the tabs we created for each class. We even gave them a binder hole punch so things could be punched and put away immediately.

I offered to keep teaching for a while on the importance of organization and then each Friday I checked their backpacks to make sure all papers were in their binders. We connected this checkup to their weekend freedoms, so they were pretty motivated to comply.

The rally cry, “No loose papers!” became a fun way to stop and have the kids work on their backpacks – not because they were in trouble or not turning in work, but because organized backpacks and homework turned in is a win-win for everyone!!!

What were your biggest organizational struggles with your kids?