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.
Problems with executive functioning are often to blame. They can affect everything from how long a child can hold on to information to how well he can monitor his own work. Medication can also play a role.
Here are some of the most common reasons kids with ADHD race through their assignments.
During the school day, kids with ADHD often pour all of their energy into concentrating and trying to meet multiple demands. By the time they get home, they may be mentally and physically drained. Tackling homework without an afterschool break can cause them to rush through it simply because they don’t have the energy to focus.
Some kids who take medication for ADHD may come home from school and suddenly be very tired, restless or sluggish. If their medication is working well at school, they may be experiencing “medication rebound.” This produces a “crash” that can last for a short time or for several hours. If that seems to happen on many days at the same time, a child’s prescriber may be able to adjust the medication.
Trouble Holding On to Information
Kids with executive functioning issues or ADHD may find that their thoughts move more quickly than their ability to capture them in words. Let’s say a child’s history homework asks him to explain the causes of the Civil War. He may not be able to hold on to his thoughts long enough to organize and expand on them. Instead, he might scrawl his answers down as fast as possible before he loses his train of thought. That can mean incomplete or even incorrect responses.
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 difficulty moving on to the next. Having spent an hour on one assignment, they might speed too quickly through their remaining homework.
Difficulty Staying Interested
Kids with ADHD often tune out quickly when tasks involve doing the same thing over and over. Research shows that people with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine in their brains. This can make it hard for them to deal with tedious work. Faced with a worksheet of 25 very similar math problems, for instance, a child may zoom his way through carelessly because he’s bored.
Not doing well in school can wear kids down and make them lose confidence. Over time, they may come to believe that no matter how hard they try or how much they study, they still won’t get a good grade. If kids believe that the outcome will be the same whether they spend 20 minutes or two hours on homework, they might not feel it’s worthwhile to take the time to do a careful job.
Kids with ADHD often have learning issues as well, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyscalculia. So on top of the challenges that ADHD presents, they may struggle with the work itself. As a result, they may rush through homework just to get it over with.
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. This can be a bigger problem if they know their homework will just be checked off as completed, rather than be graded.
If your child with ADHD is rushing through homework, there are strategies you can use to help him slow down. You may also want to make a homework contract for him to follow. And work together to create a homework station that fits his needs.