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Why kids don’t hand in their work (even if they did it)

By Amanda Morin

At a Glance

  • Even if you saw your child’s finished homework, that doesn’t mean it got handed in.

  • There are a few reasons kids might not hand in homework on purpose.

  • For other kids, it’s not a choice.

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You find out your child is getting a bad grade and has detention at school. Why? For not handing in homework. But you know it got done. You signed the assignment notebook, or your child showed you the finished work. Somehow, though, it never made its way to the teacher.

It’s a frustrating situation. And it can be even more frustrating if your child doesn’t have an answer to the question, “Why didn’t you hand it in?”

So, what happened? Why do some kids not hand in their homework?

Is your child not turning in homework on purpose?

It’s not unusual for kids to forget to turn in their homework from time to time. And some kids choose not to hand in their homework, even if they did it.

Middle-schoolers and high-schoolers may want to seem cool in front of their friends. And to some kids that age, caring about getting their homework done isn’t cool. 

Some kids might feel like they’re just “not good” at a class or school in general. Maybe they had a bad experience with an assignment or a teacher in the past. Or they might think their teacher is unfair or just doesn’t like them. So they don’t even bother handing in their work — even if they did it and showed it to you.

For other kids, though, getting homework to school is a different kind of challenge. It’s one thing to do homework. It’s another thing to put it in your backpack, bring it to school, find it in your backpack, and remember to turn it in. 

You may think that your child is being lazy or not trying hard enough. But challenges with organization are real. The routine to get out the door in the morning is already hard for some kids. Managing to take their homework with them adds another layer.

It doesn’t mean that your child doesn’t want to get it right or isn’t working hard. Kids can want to get organized and still struggle with it.

Other kids may get their homework to school but forget to turn it in. Maybe they can’t find it in their messy backpack. They might be distractible and get sidetracked by something before turning it in. Or they just completely forget to turn it in. Forgetfulness isn’t uncommon, especially when kids are stressed or tired. And it’s more common for some kids than others, like kids who have trouble with focus or with following directions.

What can help

There are lots of ways to help kids who have a hard time handing in homework. Download a homework contract to use with your child. You can use it to outline the ways you’ll help with homework, including how much you’ll help your child get it to school.

You can also give your child a homework folder to bring to and from school. Download and fill out a backpack checklist so your child knows to check every morning to make sure the folder is there. (You can also watch this video on how to help organize your child’s backpack.)

Try creative ways of getting homework from your child’s backpack to the teacher, too. Put a sticky note that says “Did you turn in your homework?” on your child’s lunchbox or something else your child uses every day. Some kids even put their completed homework inside their lunchbox to make sure it gets turned in.

Keep in touch with your child’s teacher, too. Make sure you know the policies around homework, like whether it’ll be accepted late. And ask about how homework is collected. For example:

  • Does the teacher ask for it?

  • Is there a specific place your child needs to put it each day?

  • Is there a way for your child to turn in homework online? Some schools have online portals, use Google Classroom, or have student email accounts that can be used for this purpose.

Once you start using some of these strategies, you may start to hear less about missing homework. If it continues to be a problem, though, talk with your child. Ask specific questions about how school is going. Does your child feel uncomfortable handing in homework? Is something going on with the teacher?

You can also look into what can cause organization challenges. Some kids need extra help building the skills to be organized.

Key Takeaways

  • Kids might accidentally not hand in homework because they get distracted or forget.

  • If that happens a lot, what you’re seeing probably isn’t laziness.

  • Try strategies, like a homework contract. If they don’t help, talk with your child and the teacher to find out what’s going on.


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Share Why kids don’t hand in their work (even if they did it)

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom