Getting Kids to Do Homework Independently

Dear Teacher

(page 1 of 2)

How do I get my fourth grader to do homework on her own?

This task is much like getting a child to want to set the table or clean his room without your help. Like these chores, homework cannot be classified as something that’s genuinely fun to do most of the time. However, a child can gain a lot of satisfaction from handling a task by alone and building pride in her efforts when she accomplishes a goal.

The sooner homework becomes your child’s responsibility rather than yours, the better it will be. By the time your child is in fourth grade, you should not need to hover over him or her during this task. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to use a homework contract (see ours at It can spell out the time and place where homework will be done. You also might want to include a reward clause in the contract as your child works toward homework independence.

At the fourth-grade level, you can look over your child’s homework assignments at the start of homework time and help her decide which work will be done first. During this time, directions for doing the homework should be discussed. It is also helpful to show children how to use their textbooks to answer questions about homework assignments. For example, in math, children can rework problems that are similar to those in the assignment. Following these steps gradually teaches children how to handle homework by themselves.

Homework is easier for children to do if they have an assignment notebook to write down all assignments and a calendar to write down long-term assignments so that study time can be planned. Have a calendar for each child and make sure they consult this on a routine basis to form good study habits.


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