Encourage Lazy Students to do their Homework

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What is the best Way for a Teacher to handle Children who don’t do their homework?


This case is typical- many teachers recount stories like this of their students. Sometimes, teachers are tasked with teaching lazy students- who never do their homework and give flimsy excuses –all the time about why they don’t do their homework.

The following Those Students Need you(TSNY) prescriptions are intended for guiding students who don’t do their homework. Prescriptions- 1 looks into the reasons students don’t do their homework and follow ways to mentor such students to do better. Presciption-2 looks into how to make sure that the students over time consistently do their homework even after they may have left your class.

Those Students Need You


Most human scientists are in agreement: every imperfection of man is due to lack of skills in the area of imperfection or a conscious choice. Statements like this make one thing clear- man is a creature of habits and these habits are learned.

When students consistently or constantly fail to do their homework, you can be sure it is due to a conscious or an unconscious choice (due sometimes to lack of required skills) that can be treated only by a sufficient effort on the part of the student to change.

Because old habits die hard- if the student doesn’t break the habit, the habit breaks him, a teacher must look out for ways to empower the student to break that habit or the chances that the student is broken by the said habit is high. Another way to see this is: when a student has a habit of not doing his homework, it is a sign that he is “becoming” (or already) an underachiever. And to this I say: better to work on the student in a way that guarantees that the chances that he becomes-eventually- an underachiever are low than to ignore the said student and leave the future to chance. Do this in a way that shows that you know that no human is perfect and you would have won the battle at least half way.



P-1-1 The Basic Elements of Mentoring Lazy Students as defined by the Fruit Basket Model

Just like in a basket of assorted fruits, where each fruit has its shelf-life and should be preserved differently, each student in a class is different and should be empowered differently.

The fruit basket model is a model for mentoring underachieving students. It categorizes students by their level of motivation and their level of ability in the said area in order to identify their individual needs, prioritize resources and identify individual areas of improvement over a period of time.

Well, the premise for using this model in this case is based on an understanding that these students’ inability to consistently do their homework is due to a bigger issue- their leaning towards underachievement.

The objective –of the fruit basket model- is to determine the level of motivation and level of ability of the said students (to do their homework) and use that information in identifying the best ways to encourage each student.

There are four categories of students based on their level of motivation and level of ability- Category A- have a low level of motivation and a low level ability; Category B- have a low level of motivation and a high level of ability; Category C- have a high level of motivation and a low level of ability and; Category D-have a high level of motivation and a high level of ability.


Now, once you have ascertained the level of motivation and ability of individual students it is time to provide encouragements based on the category each student falls in. Here is what I mean:

Category A needs mostly inspiration, direction and empowerment;

Category B needs mostly support

Category C needs more practice examples and competitions

Category D needs Leadership roles.

When you look closely at these empowerment needs you will realize that:

Because Category A typically have little or no motivation and ability to do their homework- due to a lack of confidence in their ability- they would need to be inspired, empowered and given extra directions on how to do their homework.


Category B with a low level of motivation and a high level of ability- typically can do their homework but choose not to for one or more reasons-need to be encouraged and motivated say via disciplinary measures.

Category C with a high level of motivation and a low level of ability usually would do their homework but may not do it correctly -should be given adequate opportunities to practice and access to resources that could make it easy for them to do their homework correctly.

Category D with a high level of motivation and a high level of ability typically are motivated to do their homework and also have the ability to do so, so you may not need to worry that they will not do it- but to be on the safe side putting them in leadership positions where they are “forced to do it always” is best, such as assigning them to teach Category C students who have a low ability. People seldom fall short of other people’s great expectations of them.



P-2 Partner with Parents and guardians 

You find out that students who don’t do their homework are usually Category A and Category B and for these students, you would do well to partner with their parents and guardians until they consistently do their homework and improve their ability and or motivation.


A simple letter to the parents of such students stating that they seldom do their homework and asking parents to “ask” them to do it could work especially for young students. For older students and in those instances where the parent is non-challant or unable to make much difference, you may just need to notify the parents and continue in your effort from your end.

P-2 Shape them into Home-Work Lovers

In my opinion, the only way to shape such students into homework lovers is to empower them to have a passion for learning by fostering their growth mindset. One reason why I like working on helping students build a growth mindset is that it could help reverse their underachievement –if at all they are leaning towards underachievement as earlier suspected.


  •           No human is perfect. Accept that your student is human and refuse to judge or lecture the student.


  •           Devote time to mentor him and teach him skills that could help him through some of his imperfections and the confidence he builds from developing those skills would rob off on his motivation to consistently do his homework.


  •           Ask yourself “What is this particular student’s level of motivation and level of ability to do the said homework”? Your answer would help you identify the student’s needs, prioritize resources and identify areas that you can mentor the student on over a period of time.



  •          Work on helping the said student develop a growth mindset. The growth mindset is a belief that you have the ability to grow, and become better than you currently are and there are no limits to the possibilities that abound for you. When students have this belief, they would over time be confident enough to see the value of home works and how it can contribute to their personal growth.

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