8 Tips to Help Grade-Schoolers Slow Down on Homework

By Kate Kelly

There are many reasons grade-schoolers with learning and thinking differences may rush through homework. Kids with and may be especially prone to speeding through assignments. But there are ways you can help your child slow down. Try these strategies.

1. Designate a set amount of time for homework.

Set aside a specific amount of time for homework every weekday. You can even use a homework contract to create a schedule. Having a set time for homework can help your child get used to the idea of homework. It also takes away the incentive to speed through her work so she can go play.

The rule of thumb for grade school is 10 minutes of homework per grade every night. So if your child is in third grade, she should spend about 30 minutes a day on homework. If she finishes early, she can read, write a letter to her grandparents or play educational games online.

2. Use a timer.

You can use a computer, a phone app, a stopwatch or even an egg timer. Divide your child’s homework into timed segments. Set the timer to go off at the end of each homework task, and re-set the timer for each one. Encourage her to work without stopping until the timer goes off. Having a visual and audible reminder gives your child a sense of how much time homework tasks should take. It also reminds her that she has a set amount of time, which could help with focus.

3. Help her get in the right mindset to do work.

If your child is tired or stressed out from the day’s events, she may rush through her homework just to be done with it. When she seems fatigued or restless, consider letting the homework wait a little while. Let her run around outside or play quietly for a set time so she can decompress. When it’s time to tackle homework, she’ll have more energy to give it her best effort.

If your child takes ADHD medication and tends to crash right after school, let her doctor know. You and the doctor can discuss whether or not her medication needs adjusting.

4. Step in if she needs to slow down.

If you notice your child rushing, don’t wait until she’s done to step in. Try to slow her down in the moment. Check in during homework time by asking questions like, “Are you doing your best work?” or “Will the teacher be able to read that?” It’s easier for both of you if you have her correct problems before she finishes—rather than ask her to redo her work later. It can also help her develop good habits going forward.

5. Encourage her to look over her work.

Remind your child to check her work for careless errors and sloppiness before she considers it done. You can even create a checklist with her: Did she follow the directions? Are the words spelled correctly? Did she use capitals when appropriate? Can she read her writing? Getting her in the habit of checking her work helps her set standards for good work. And that can help her feel a sense of pride in what she’s about to turn in.

6. Help her break down projects.

In fourth and fifth grade, homework starts to require more time management and organizational skills. Instead of a single worksheet that’s due the next day, kids get more and bigger assignments. And the assignments may have due dates that are further away.

Help your child figure out how to leave enough time to get challenging projects done over a longer period of time. Create a study calendar that breaks down the project into small daily tasks. This helps her see that she can get the project done in time if she works on it little by little, at a steady pace.

7. Get her the help she needs.

Some kids leave homework questions blank or rush through it because they’re frustrated by the work itself. They may have learning differences that affect their reading, writing or math skills. If you think that could be the case with your child, you may want to meet with her teacher. Share your observations, and ask the teacher what he’s noticed.

Together you can decide what the next step should be. You may want to request an evaluation. Your child may need specialized instruction in a skill area or to help her succeed. The sooner she gets the help she needs, the sooner she can focus on learning.

8. Remind her of her strengths.

Kids who haven’t had a lot of success in school may not be confident about their ability to do homework well. So they may rush through it, thinking it’s not worth the effort. Remind your child of her strengths. Talk about a time she worked hard at something—big or small—and succeeded. This could help boost your child’s confidence. And that could help her approach homework with a more positive outlook.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Kate Kelly has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Rayma Griffin, MA, MEd has spent 40 years working with children with learning and thinking differences in the classroom and as an administrator.