I Forgot My Homework

We have an occasional problem in our house. When it is time for the 8-year-old to start his homework, sometimes an exasperated cry rushes out of his mouth, “I forgot my homework!”  he wails, with all the drama of an actor trying out for the Spring Play. Those four words turn our household upside down within a matter of minutes. I remind him to be more responsible. He admonishes himself for being forgetful. Then we all take a breath and try to figure out the next step.

The parents in his class stay connected through Google Groups. At least once a week, a parent posts that their child forgot a worksheet and kindly asks if someone can scan it and e-mail it. While this strategy comes in handy, especially when some children don’t start their homework until after dinner, I know that if my son knew it existed, he would expect me to take care of it for him. I have already helped him established a few bad habits (that I am trying very hard to break him of) and do not need him to start another one, especially when it is related to his education. What to do, what to do?

I decided that he might be less likely to forget his homework if he has to “work” at getting the information that he needs. I provided him with the telephone numbers of students in his class and coached him on telephone etiquette. Then it was his responsibility to call up his peers, explain the nature of the call and kindly ask if they could help him out.

This strategy killed two birds with one stone. He learned a bit about responsibility and how to conduct himself over the phone. Oftentimes, the child’s parent would help out over the phone, but still I wasn’t making the call for him. I did have to give a little explanation later about why he was calling instead of me. He actually enjoyed chatting with his classmates about other topics and later asked if he could call that person again.

Will he never forget his homework again? It’s doubtful. He is human. Now, we need to work on the proper protocol when someone you phone is not at home  and the answering machine picks up instead. Which reminds me, I need to send an e-mail to a classmate he called last night to explain that it was us who did not leave a message after the tone.