I REALLY like the responses from Courtney and Verruca. I want to add my opinion that positive communication with teachers and the kids is very productive. Also, as the mom of a 19 yo college student (who was in gifted track) and 13 yo seventh grader, MOST elementary school and middle school students have issues with organization, keeping track of assignments, and turning in homework. The schools in my county have some terrific tools and procedures to help all of us - students, parents, and teachers. Maybe you could suggest some of these:
1) Homework Hotline - teachers record homework assignments every day, or for the week, parents can call in to check on assignments
2) Fridge magnets the school gave out with homework hotline and attendance line numbers
3) EVERY student gets a planner, and EVERY teacher checks EVERY student's planner to make sure their particular assignments are recorded correctly. teachers check things off with a stamp, or check mark in different inks, something like that.
4) The very first parent-teacher meeting is held within 2-3 weeks of school starting, and parents get to circulate to classes their kids go to. Each teacher explains their class and homework policies, curriculum, special projects, and best times to get in touch with them with questions or concerns.
5) More and more teachers have their own webpage that they post assignments on, that you can send email, etc. When younger DD has to miss school because of illness, she emails her teachers and they email her back. Amazing!
Teachers do have a lot of students, and I have found the old proverb, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" is true. When we have had problems in certain classes or with getting homework in, things like that, I call or email teachers weekly to let THEM know what DD is doing and her progress, and then they let ME know how things are going on their end. I ALWAYS express my appreciation for their help. Teachers like positive reinforcement, too! And I try, tho it's very, very hard, to remember that my kids have responsibility and ownership of their grades - and if they choose to not work so hard, and then not get as good grades - that is their responsibility.
As a mom who deals with reminding my seventh grader to do homework, I can certainly emphathize. I take the positive reinforcement approach, and try to avoid micromanaging. That means telling my kid she can spend an hour when she gets home doing whatever she wants - TV, internet, talk with her friends - then it's time to do homework. If she gets homework done by a certain time, we can watch TV together. MONEY is also a motivator - she gets money for A's and B's, nothing for C's, and SHE has to pay US if she gets any lower grades.
Weekends are fun time, we don't worry about homework at all. We do spend some time on housework, but we ALL do housework at the same time, and make it a race, so it gets done quicker. Those neat battery-powered scrubbers are really fun and motivating for getting kids to do the dishes, too.
Best wishes, and remember that you are definitely NOT alone in the ongoing challenges of parenting preteens and teens!
Joy in Virginia