1. Let him teach you (or someone else) everything he knows about this assignment.  Sometimes teaching it reveals clarity and answers.  Explain it to a younger sibling.  Teach the family dog.  Explain it to a friend.

    Just get him thinking from the teacher’s view.  This shift in perspective may give him the answers he needs.

  2. Explain everything he DOES know about it.  OK, so he doesn’t know the answer to question number two.  But how much of the answer does he know?

    He can’t spell a word…how much of it CAN he spell?  Can he get the first letter, the first two letters?  How far can he get?

    At this point, focus on what he does know, NOT what he doesn’t know.  Finding out what he does know may give you some real insight in getting him to what he doesn’t know.

  3. List what he DOESN’T know.  This is sometimes very revealing.  Have him tell you, SPECIFIC doesn’t know or understand.

    Students, in frustration, often say they don’t get “any of it.”  But that is seldom true.  It’s time to get specific.

    Is he unclear about what the question is asking?  Or is he unclear as to what the answer is?  What part of the answer is missing?

    Does he not know the first letter of the word?  What letters is he “missing” from the spelling words?

    Can he get the math facts for the 7’s but not the 8’s? Is it all the 8’s or just a specific group?

    Make a list of what isn’t know.  Sometimes, the question isn’t understood and this exercise will help bring that out much better than asking, “Do you understand the question?”

    This will help “zero in” on what pieces are missing.


Use any of the strategies whenever you find yourself at a “homework roadblock.”