Effective Strategies to Help Students Complete Difficult Homework Assignments

There are several different reasons why your student is having trouble completing his homework. One of the the most frequent reasons I observe is that they perceive the homework as too difficult. Similarly, the homework may be too advanced for his academic abilities.

Here are some homework strategies to motivate your student to complete challenging homework:

  1. Encourage him to try to solve the first problem independently before helping him with his homework. I always tell my student that I can only help him if I see how they’ve solved the problem first.
  2. If they say it’s too difficult, ask him what about the problem is difficult. Encourage him to be specific rather than saying a general sentence such as “It’s too hard.” This will promote critical thinking and problem solving skills.
  3. Connect the homework to real-world applications. I’ve had students complain about doing multiplication, but, when I show them the alternative of doing repeated addition (ex: adding 7+7+7+7+7+7+7 versus memorizing 7×7), they become more willing to solve the problem.
  4. Have the student hold the pencil or pen at all times even when you’re explaining to him how to solve it the problem. This way the student takes ownership of his work.
  5. Also, when you check homework and explain to him what the corrections are, make sure he is making the changes on his own. Remember let your student hold the pencil or pen at all times.
  6. When giving a student feedback, keep it specific. Instead of saying “Great job completing your homework!” you can say “I like how you kept focused on that one problem even though it was challenging.” Praise the specific strategy he used and his effort.
  7. Avoid contradicting praise that incorporates a negative and positive feedback in the same sentence. For example: “I like how you multiplied those two numbers correctly, but those weren’t the correct numbers.” Another example: “Those two numbers were added incorrectly, but at least you found the correct numbers to add!” Contradicting praise will confuse the student.
  8. Be positive and keep the session light-hearted! If the student keeps getting every single question wrong, just let him know that mistakes happen to everyone and that you’re there to support him and help him learn more.

What other strategies do you use to help your students complete their homework successfully?  


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