Homework challenges and strategies

By Amanda Morin

Expert reviewed by Jim Rein, MA

Homework Strategies for Struggling Students. A boy does homework with parent in background.

At a glance

  • Kids can struggle with homework for lots of reasons.

  • A common challenge is rushing through assignments.

  • Once you understand a homework challenge, it’s easier to find solutions.

Most kids struggle with homework from time to time. But kids who learn and think differently may struggle more than others. Understanding the homework challenges your child faces can help you reduce stress and avoid battles.

Here are some common homework challenges and tips to help.

The challenge: Rushing through homework

Kids with learning difficulties may rush because they’re trying to get through what’s hard for them as fast as possible. For kids with ADHD, trouble with focus and working memory may be the cause.

Rushing through homework can lead to messy or incorrect homework. It can also lead to kids missing key parts of the assignment. One thing to try is having your child do the easiest assignments first and then move to harder ones.

Get more tips for helping grade-schoolers and middle-schoolers slow down on homework.

The challenge: Taking notes

Note-taking isn’t an easy skill for some kids. They may struggle with the mechanical parts of writing or with organizing ideas on a page. Kids may also find it hard to read text and take notes at the same time.

Using the outline method may help. It divides notes into main ideas, subtopics, and details. 

The challenge: Managing time and staying organized

Some kids struggle with keeping track of time and making a plan for getting all of their work done. That’s especially true of kids who have trouble with executive function.

Try creating a homework schedule and set a specific time and place for your child to get homework done. Use a timer to help your child stay on track and get a better sense of time.

The challenge: Studying effectively

Many kids need to be taught how to study effectively. But some may need concrete strategies.

One thing to try is creating a checklist of all the steps that go into studying. Have your child mark off each one. Lists can help kids monitor their work.

The challenge: Recalling information

Some kids have trouble holding on to information so they can use it later. (This skill is called working memory.) They may study for hours but remember nothing the next day. But there are different types of memory.

If your child has trouble with verbal memory, try using visual study aids like graphs, maps, or drawings.

Practice “muscle memory” exercises to help kids with working memory.

The challenge: Learning independently

It’s important for kids to learn how to do homework without help. Using a homework contract can help your child set realistic goals. Encourage “thinking out loud.”

Get tips for helping grade-schoolers do schoolwork on their own.

Sometimes, homework challenges don’t go away despite your best efforts. Look for signs that kids may have too much homework. And learn how to talk with teachers about concerns.

Key takeaways

  • Some kids have a hard time doing schoolwork on their own.

  • It can help to tailor homework strategies to a child’s specific challenges and strengths.

  • Sometimes, there’s too much homework for a child to handle. Talk to the teacher.

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