All kids rush through homework once in a while so they can get to the things they’d rather be doing. But for kids with ADHD, rushing can be an ongoing challenge that results in sloppy, incorrect, or incomplete work.
Why does this happen? A key reason is that kids with ADHD struggle with executive function skills. They often have a hard time staying focused, managing their time, waiting, and monitoring their work.
Other factors may come into play, too. Kids with ADHD may be worn out after school. Or they might have “medication rebound” if they take stimulants for ADHD.
Here are some of the most common reasons kids with ADHD race through their homework assignments.
1. Trouble holding on to information
Trouble with working memory can make it hard for kids with ADHD to keep information in mind as they do their homework. Instead of taking their time to think through their answers, they might scribble them out as fast as possible before they lose their train of thought. That can mean incomplete or even incorrect responses.
2. Poor time management skills
When kids with ADHD have multiple assignments, they may have trouble gauging how much time to spend on each one. They also may hyperfocus on one task and then have a hard time moving on to the next. Having spent an hour on one assignment, they might speed through their remaining homework.
3. Difficulty staying interested
Kids with ADHD have trouble with focus and often tune out quickly when tasks are tedious. Faced with a worksheet of 25 similar math problems, they might zoom through it carelessly because they’re bored.
4. Difficulty with self-monitoring
For kids with ADHD, doing homework may seem endless. So the idea of sitting even longer to check over their work for mistakes can be unbearable. They may also think it’s OK to just turn in their first effort, rather than spend more time making sure it’s correct and complete.
5. Trouble with self-control
Kids with ADHD can have a hard time putting off what they want, even if it’s better for them to wait. If they’re itching to play their new video game or watch TV, they might rush through homework without even thinking or caring about the fact that taking their time can result in better grades.
6. Learning challenges
Kids with ADHD often have learning challenges like dyslexia and dyscalculia as well. So on top of the challenges that ADHD presents, they may struggle with the work itself. That can lead them to rush through homework just to get it over with.
7. Feeling defeated
Struggling at school can wear kids down and make them lose confidence. Over time, they may come to believe they won’t “get it.” Or that they won’t do well no matter how hard they try. If kids believe the outcome will be the same whether they spend 20 minutes or two hours on homework, they might not think it’s worth it to take the time to do a careful job.
If your child races through homework, knowing the reasons why lets you find strategies that can help. Observe your child during homework and look for patterns. Get tips for helping kids slow down on homework in grade school and middle school. And download a free homework contract that your child can follow.
Rushing leads to sloppy, incorrect, or incomplete homework.
Kids with ADHD often also have learning differences that can make homework so difficult that they rush just to be done with it.
A medication “rebound” effect can make some kids get very tired or sluggish after school. Fine-tuning ADHD medication can help.
About the author
About the author
Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.
Andrew Kahn, PsyD is a licensed psychologist who focuses on ADHD, learning differences, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, behavior challenges, executive function, and emotional regulation.