I am curious about how many folks who are chiming in on this thread have children who are in the upper grades (middle school to high school). If anyone has kids in those grades, and they have become accustomed to thinking that homework doesn't matter unless it is something that interests them, what does your student (or you if you need to step in) say to the teacher when all the F's start showing up on their grade ledger?
Well, mine are 2nd year university, 12th grade, and 10th/11th grade (nominally 10th but with all academics at the higher level). And I have a 7th grader who doesn't go to school. Now, my kids were all unschooled until 9th grade or thereabouts, so our situation is a little different than most. But unschooling means largely what you described: they didn't study unless they wanted to, they didn't use curriculum unless it was their choice, no one gave them academic assignments or tests or any such thing.
When they started school despite the fact that I took absolutely no role in supporting / reminding / structuring their homework we never had to deal with uncompleted work. For two reasons. First, when they found the assignments to be nothing but busy-work, they were able to successfully persuade their teachers that they already understood the material well and negotiated ways to test out of the garbage, or replace it with more meaningful and often more challenging work. (We're lucky to have a school that believes very much in individually paced learning, so they were pretty sure this would be a successful strategy.) Secondly, when they found that the assignments did matter and the learning was engaging, they did the work. Why wouldn't they? It's their education, their future, their success at stake, and it was their choice to go to school. This current year our school has moved to an experimental highly self-paced approach for all academics. Out of a high school student body of 42 kids, my kids are two of only five students who are "on pace" for all their courses at the end of Term 1.
So my suggestion above, that we leave off trying to establish the homework habits until they actually matter, was based on my experience.
Edited by moominmamma - 11/5/13 at 9:23pm