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4th Graders and Responsibility


Senior Member
What do you tell Johnny's Mom when she demands to know why Johnny didn't write down his spelling words or copy the important weekly reminders from the board? And what if said weekly reminders are on the board all week? AND what if I write on the board each morning to copy the reminders and homework for the day right when the students come in the door? As it is, I already write on the board what books/supplies the students need to take home with them, so they don't forget to take home a certain book for homework or studying for a test...yet they still forget their books. Why is it MY fault? I can't walk around and make sure everything is done, and better yet, I don't feel I HAVE to. Thoughts??


Full Member
I know I know

I get the same thing and I'm sure we all have at one point or another.....My keep the peace response - is this - I have 22 students in the room and I can't possible check to see that they all have everything they need, but I can do this, How about if we give him a buddy that will remind him and check to make sure he has everything done correctly?

Usually this works and I will partner up the student with a VERY responsible and helpful child............


Senior Member
Assignment notebooks

Giggle's idea sounds like it would work. But you're right, it ends up falling on us as teacher's to parent these kids.

My mom teaches 3rd/4th looping and she has found a solution that works. Each year the students are given assignment notebooks. The notebooks go home every night and must be signed (not intialled) by a parent, every night. This trains the parents as much as the kids to check every night. Usually by the 3rd week of school, most if not all of the kids are brining their notebooks back signed.

She checks for signatures each morning. In the afternoon, each student brings their filled out assignment notebook up to be checked. (She puts a sample page that is filled out for the day on the overhead projector) They must have everything they need for the night with them at this time. If they have math homework, they must have the worksheets, same with science or social studies. After you send about 3 kids back to their seat because they didn't have the notebook open to the right day or all the materials they need for the night, the others get on the ball mighty quick.

There is also a place in there for spelling words. Once they have been checked (she has a list with all their names photocopied so she can easily check them off) they immediately go to their bookbag and put everything inside their bookbag. They MUST do this before they get to go out to afternoon recess, so that encourages speediness. :D

By the time she gets them their 4th grade year, she can have another student "check them out" as well as fill out the sample page. I would think after you get them trained, you could have another student check them, too. By 4th grade, they're ready for the responsibility.

It takes some time at the beginning of the year, but when you have the kids trained and in a routine she can get through everyone (even the dawdlers) in about 5 minutes.

That is what works for her, it takes some time at the beginning of the year to train the kids, but for her, its two years worth of training and well worth it.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. :s)


Senior Member

When I taught 5th grade I had a bunch of students with the same problem. Luckily we had studyhall at the end of the day. I had an agreement with each parent to sign their homework agenda each night and I would sign it each day to be sure it was correct before it went home. We both agreed that it was the child's responsibility to make sure he had all he needed to get his homework done.

As far as spelling words, I send home a weekly newsletter with my students that lists the spelling words. The parents know to contact me Monday if they did not receive the newsletter the previous Friday.

Good luck.


Senior Member
Same old song and dance

My fifth graders have the same problems. I post everything on the board, check that they write it in their planners, and post it on School Notes and still parents complain and cover for their kids. I simply encourage the parents to subscribe to the School Notes notification, grin and bear it. I know that I'm doing all I can. They have to do something on their own even if their parents don't think so.
I gave the parents a goal list for fifth graders on open house day. Number one is that students will learn to work independently.:)


Senior Member

I've talked to moms like that before, when I've taught 5th, 3rd, and 4th. There's always one that thinks it's my responsibility to make sure Johnny wrote everything down. Instead, I tell them that I'll check him for 2 weeks, to "get him in the habit of it". At the same time, mom is to make sure she's signing his folder/planner every night. Invariably, I do my job, but mom doesn't do hers. I keep records of it all, though. In the end, I get Johnny more responsible, but I never get mom that way! LOL :)


Ask Johnny

Has the mother asked Johnny why he chose not to write down his assignments?

There are a couple of kids in my class for whom I sign assignment pads, but that's it. I have done an occasional unannounced spot check of ALL assignment pads (just to keep em' on their toes). I also post all the homework and other important info on the internet. This is all I can do. There are 26 kids in my class. These kids are responsible for writing down their homework and bringing materials home. The administration supports (and encourages) this.

What does your administration think?

ITS NOT YOUR FAULT! ITS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY! Don't give in to this parent. When and how does she expect her child to learn to be responsible?


Senior Member

If Johnny cannot do it when he is asked to, have him do it during quiet time and do the work he misses as homework. I bet if mom notices more homework, she will make him become more responsible. If her time is taken from her, I bet she will demand that he gets on the ball.

I have 5th graders and a few are very irresponsible. I ck each assignment notebook at the end of the day. They cannot go home until I have checked their notebook. I will not check their backpack but do take the time each day to check 19 students assignment notebooks. Then there are no excuses.

Also my school subscribes to www. schoolnotes.com. I don't know if there is a cost or not. I type my classwork and homework assignments each day onto the website. Then the parent has no excuse nor does the child.

On Wednesday, my team (myself and 2 other 5th grade teachers) send home a note to the parents listing all the tests for the next week. Any ideas, project dates, etc.

They know to look for the note and can email me for any reason 24 hours a day.

I also bring in the parent and child for conference. I let the child explain their laziness to their parents and then together come up with ideas on how together we can fix it.



I have a relatively small class, but I pretty much refuse to check backpacks. It is not my job to do that; it's the students'. I don't check assignment pads every day, but I do it randomly, so the students don't know when it may be. I teach 4th, by the way.

I did have one parent ask me to make sure his daughter had everything when she went home. I explained that I would help at the beginning, but then it's her responsibility. I haven't had any complaints so far.



It's not your fault, this child needs to learn responsibility. Can you and the parents make an agreement? Perhaps you don't remind him, but everyday at the end of the day, he comes up to you and has you initial/sign his assignment book or whatever the book it is where they are suppose to copy down the weekly reminders, spelling words, etc.? Then when he gets home, one of the parents has to sign the book, so you know that she saw it? If he doesn't approach you or ask his parents, then he loses recess if it's not written down? Just a suggestion, hope this helps!