8 tips to help grade-schoolers slow down on homework

ByKate 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 work so they 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, your child should spend about 30 minutes a day on homework. If kids finish early, they can read, write a letter to their 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 reset the timer for each one. Encourage your child 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 them that they have a set amount of time, which could help with focus.

3. Help your child get in the right mindset to do work.

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

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

4. Step in if your child needs to slow down.

If you notice your child rushing, don’t wait until they’re done to step in. Try to slow your child 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 your child correct problems before they finish — rather than asking them to redo work later. It can also help your child develop good habits going forward.

5. Encourage kids to look over their work.

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

6. Help kids 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 kids see that they can get the project done in time if they work on it little by little, at a steady pace.

7. Get kids the help they need.

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 their teacher. Share your observations and ask the teacher what they’ve 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 them succeed. The sooner they get the help they need, the sooner they can focus on learning.

8. Remind kids of their 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 their strengths. Talk about a time your child worked hard at something — big or small — and succeeded. This could help boost your child’s confidence. And that could help your child 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.