I’m sure most, if not all students, have at least a few times (or more!) during school where they’ve handed in a homework assignment late, and so as not to get into trouble, given an excuse to their teacher as to why they couldn’t complete their homework on time. Be careful not to use the same excuse too many times, or your teacher may not be so sympathetic next time!
If you’re like me, and often forget about their homework (oops), then maybe this list of excuses can help to bail you out:
- “My dog ate my homework!” – Hmm, perhaps not the most subtle or workable of excuses, but if you really do have a dog… There may be more than a 0.0001% chance that it could work?! If all else fails, you could always bring a stool sample as proof…
- “Homework? I don’t remember getting any homework?” – You probably DO remember getting your homework, but your teacher doesn’t know that, right?
- “Ahh, I thought it was in my bag, but it looks like I’ve left it at home by accident!” – Of course you left it at home by accident! This one is a great excuse, it’s worked a fair few times for me, anyway…
- “I didn’t understand the homework, could you explain it to me so I can give it a second go?” – This excuse works better more for maths or question based homework rather than essays. However, it’s a good way to hit two birds with one stone (you get help on your homework, and a deadline extension!), especially if you actually don’t understand the homework assignment!
- “My computer crashed and I didn’t save my work/my printer stopped working!” – With more and more people using computer based software to complete their homework, a whole new spectrum of excuses have been opened to the desperate, homework-lacking student.
- “I had too much homework from my [insert subject name] class to complete the homework you assigned,” – Poor you, clearly you’ve been given way too much homework by all your other teachers to do this piece! A homework overload is never a good thing.
- “Oh, I think I was absent when the homework was given out…” – You were obviously ill when the homework was handed out in class, even though your teacher is looking at your ‘tick’ of attendance in the register!
- “I’ve been busy with extra-curricular activities and volunteering work outside of school,” – If you’re doing any work or activities outside of work, hey, why not use them as an excuse for not doing your homework! It’s a pretty believable one (especially next to excuse 1.).
- “I’ve been so ill over the past few days, so I haven’t been able to do any of my homework,” – Bed ridden, feverish and unable to distinguish your cat from your sheet of homework, how on earth can you be expected to work in this state?!
- Tell the truth – After using all these excuses, perhaps it’s time to pull out your triumph card – the truth. On the occasion, your teacher may appreciate your use of the truth rather than the usual bombardment of (unbelievable) excuses. Use this one when you’re feeling especially sincere (and desperate).
I hope these excuses have been helpful, just remember that the more you use them, the more unbelievable they’ll become to your teacher. In fact, it may just be better (and easier) for you to hand in you homework on time!
Why Students May Not Complete Homework
What's the deal with homework?!
Although there can be many reasons why students don’t always complete their homework, some seem to be universal. Luckily, alert teachers can manage these. Try some of these suggestions if you find your students (and yourself) struggling with homework.
1. Students did not record the assignment when you made it.
• Allow enough time for students to record the assignment at the start of the class. Have them copy it from the board instead of just writing it down as you say it. Monitor them as they do this.
2. Students don’t seem to take the assignments seriously.
• Make sure students know the purpose and benefits of each homework assignment you make. Take a serious stance when discussing the work. Collect it and check it for accuracy. Enact your policy to involve parents or guardians.
3. Students leave their books and materials at school.
• First, allow your students sufficient time to gather their belongings. Be sure to stress the importance of the work and then problem-solve a solution with students. If the problem persists, even after you have worked with them, contact a parent or guardian.
4. A family crisis keeps a child from being able to complete the assignment.
• Be compassionate and offer assistance. Allow parents to write a note to you when a child does not finish an assignment. Ask them to include a phone number where they can be reached if necessary. You will find that parents will greatly appreciate this simple act of understanding and cooperation on your part.
5. Students “forget” to do their homework frequently.
• Talk with individual students to determine the underlying causes and offer assistance. Check to see that they have recorded the assignments so that they know what to do. Communicate with parents so that they know what the assignments are and can offer support.
6. Students claim they do their work, but leave it at home.
• Sometimes this can happen, but a student does this frequently, contact parents.
7. Students have other assignments that are more pressing than the ones you assign.
• Talk to the other teachers involved to see if you can avoid schedule conflicts. Be as flexible as you can.
8. Students are overwhelmed by homework assignments.
• When you make an assignment, ask students to estimate how long it will take them to complete it. This allows you to adjust an assignment when necessary and teaches students to become good project managers. Offer help to students who may need extra assistance in doing their work. A bit of extra time with you after school will often clear up problems and boost students’ confidence.
9. Students don’t really see why they have to do homework.
• Focus their efforts by showing them how to set long-term and short-term goals. Make setting goals a part of your classroom and you will give your students a steady purpose for doing their work. Make it a priority to build in motivation as often as possible.
10. Students have other interests (sports, video games, television, etc.) that they claim are more important than homework.
• Work with students to set goals, hold them accountable for the work, and call home when necessary to ask for support.
11. Students say they don’t know how to do an assignment.
• Take this seriously. Remediate the instruction and allow students extra time to complete the work. Avoid assigning a new skill as homework before students have had an opportunity to practice in class.
12. Students don’t have access to technology and other resources at home.
• Show them how they can find what they need at school, but be sensitive to the type of homework assignments that you make.
13. Students are capable of doing the work but just don’t get around to it.
• Often underachieving students are not lazy, but are paralyzed by a subtle fear of failure. Talk with the student first. If this does not succeed, then involve parents and the counselors at your school to help your underachieving student.
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Julia G. Thompson
Julia Thompson has been a public school teacher for more than thirty years. Thompson currently teaches in Fairfax County, Virginia, and is an active speaker, consultant, teacher trainer, and workshop presenter. Her most recent book, Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher, Second Edition, written with busy high school teachers in mind, has just been released. Author of the best-selling The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide and The First-Year Teacher’s Checklist, she also publishes a Website (http:juliagthompson.com) offering tips for teachers on a variety of topics, maintains a Twitter account with daily advice for teachers at TeacherAdvice@Twitter.com, and a blog at http://juliagthompson.blogspot.com.
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