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!
Mark Trifilio, principal of the public pre-K-5th grade Orchard School in Vermont, sat down with the school’s 40 educators last summer to discuss the soon-to-start new school year and homework — how much kids were getting and whether it was helping them learn.
Trifilio had been pondering the issue for some time, he said, concerned that there seemed to be an uneven homework load for students in different classrooms within the same grade and that the differences from grade to grade didn’t make sense. He had looked up research on homework effectiveness and learned that, generally, homework in elementary school isn’t linked to better academic performance — except for after-school reading.
So at that meeting with teachers, he proposed an experiment: stopping all homework in every grade and asking students to read on their own at home — or, if they were not ready to read on their own, to do it with a parent or guardian. He said he was surprised when every one of them — classroom teachers as well as those who work with special-education students and English-language learners — signed on to the idea.
“All 40 voted yes,” he said, “and not just yes, but a passionate yes. When do you get 40 people to agree on something?”
So they instituted the policy, as this page on the school website shows:
No Homework Policy
Orchard School Homework Information
Student’s Daily Home Assignment
1. Read just-right books every night —
(and have your parents read to you too).
2. Get outside and play —
that does not mean more screen time.
3. Eat dinner with your family —
and help out with setting and cleaning up.
4. Get a good night’s sleep.
What’s the result?
Six months into the experiment, Trifilio says it has been a big success: Students have not fallen back academically and may be doing better, and now they have “time to be creative thinkers at home and follow their passions.”
Students are asked to read every night. Families are provided book recommendations, but kids are not required to fill out logs (because, he said, “we know that we all make up logs”).
Trifilio said he conducted a family survey asking about the policy, and most parents at the nearly 400-student school responded. The vast majority supported it, saying their kids now have time to pursue things other than math work sheets, and many report that students are reading more on their own than they used to. He said a small minority of parents are concerned that students are missing learning opportunities from doing homework and won’t be prepared for middle school.
The Burlington Free Press recently quoted parent James Conway as saying this about his son Sean, who is in kindergarten: “My son declared on Monday that he can read now and that he doesn’t need any help. So, something is working.”
What does the research say about the value of homework? While academics continue to study the subject, a meta-analysis of research on the subject, published in 2006 by researcher Harris Cooper and colleagues, is often cited. It found that homework in elementary school does not contribute to academic achievement and has only a modest effect on older students in terms of improving academic performance.
Homework: An unnecessary evil? … Surprising findings from new research
Homework: The useful and the useless
A new wrinkle in the research about the real value of homework
(Correction: Earlier version mistakenly said kids were being asked to read at school when it was supposed to be at home.)