Should I be worried if my child’s homework is messy?

That is an excellent question. I think it all comes down to what is the homework for? Is this an assignment that was just given for practice, or is it going to be some sort of an informal or formal assessment? Knowing what the final result of the homework would be the key to being concerned about whether it is neat or a total train wreck.

We would all probably love to have nice neat work being produced by our children, and if you are a teacher, I know you would appreciate it. But, we all have had that one child, or one student that just seems to always has a very messy product.

As a parent, I would ask your child what the assignment is for. If they say it is just for practice, I probably wouldn’t get overly concerned, unless it is something that requires alignment like math. For instance, if it is a long multiplication page with multiple steps, then it probably does need to be neat. Or at least neat enough for it to be readable by the child and potentially the teacher to read. If it is a set of notes and the only eyes on it will be the child’s then I wouldn’t worry about it. They can probably make sense of it. However, if you ask them to read it and they cannot make any sense of it, it is most likely time to have a talk about the quality of their work. It would also be a time to discuss the audience of the piece of work. If it for your teacher to see, make it legible.

What do you do when your child’s teacher cannot read it and you suddenly realize things are worse than you thought. Your child’s teacher isn’t able to assess your child’s work with accuracy and then your child may not get assessed appropriately due to lack of understanding of the text. I would then say that you need some help. I would definitely consider doing some diagnostic work.

You can purchase handwriting pages for your child. These can be found in many stores and on Amazon. If you need a link, this one may work for your child. (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”) Be sure you know which way the letters are supposed to be formed. Have your child practice writing both manuscript and cursive. Be sure to practice numbers as well. Be sure you pay attention to spacing between letters and words. Be sure you emphasize capital letters and punctuation.

If this still doesn’t work, then you may want to consider getting professional help. Sometimes a tutor can step in and take over where you were working. However, there may be some other issue that only an Occupational Therapist can help with. It is okay to get help. If your child’s teacher hasn’t suggested an evaluation and you are still not seeing progress with your personal interventions, then consider asking for help. An evaluation can be set up after an initial observation is done. Sometimes a brief intervention at school is all it takes. Other times you’ll need an IEP (Individual Education Program) that must take place via the school to get help.

Remind your child that they are not in trouble. Remind them that even when things are hard, they can do it. You just want to ensure that your child is able to communicate in writing and that is why you are practicing.

Something else to consider would be to allow typing of written work. While this won’t work for all subjects and lessons, it will work for many things. We are living in a digital world and this may be a good way to tackle the problem. If your youngster is too young for digital responses, consider building up hand muscles by playing with clay, playdough, digging in the dirt, playing with small toys that have moveable parts. All of these things help to build muscles to support writing.

I hope this information has been helpful for you. As I always say, don’t feel badly asking for help. Sometimes a short intervention is all that is needed to build skills and confidence. Feel free to share this information with anyone needing it.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl go to

Published by Tutoring with Sheryl

I have 32 years of experience teaching in public schools in Nebraska. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincon. I hold a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane University. I have 2 Google for Education Certifications. I have been tutoring online for 1 year. I have worked with countless students of all ages to support their education. I also support teachers with planning and management in their classrooms.

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