9 Tips to Help Middle-Schoolers Slow Down on Homework

ByKate Kelly

A lot of kids rush through homework. But kids with learning and thinking differences—especially ADHD and executive functioning issues—may be more likely to zip through assignments. This can cause problems in middle school, when assignments get more demanding. Here are ways to help your child slow down.

1. Designate a set amount of time for homework.

The rule of thumb for middle-schoolers is to spend about 60 to 90 minutes on homework each weeknight. This time frame will vary depending on your child’s courses, teachers and study hall schedule. With these factors in mind, work with your child to set an amount of time he’ll commit to homework every night. Using a homework contract can make it easier to set and keep to a schedule.

If he finishes early, he can check over completed work or read. This way there’s less incentive for him rush—which may mean he spends more time doing his homework well.

2. Time it right.

Your child may be tense, stressed out or exhausted from the school day. So make sure your child has enough energy to work on assignments before he dives in to homework time. Let him have a break, a snack or a nap if he needs it.

If your child takes ADHD medication and tends to crash right after school, let his doctor know. Together you can talk about whether his medication needs fine-tuning.

3. Help him prioritize.

Learning to juggle the demands of different classes can be challenging. Your child may feel he has to rush through a difficult assignment because he didn’t leave enough time to do it properly.

Help him come up with time management strategies that work for him. For instance, encourage him to allot more time to subjects he finds harder. Is it easier for him to do hard assignments first, when he has more energy? Or would he rather warm up with something simple to build his confidence? Answering questions like these can help him prioritize.

4. Break down the steps.

Some kids finish homework too quickly because they leave things out. They may not remember all the steps involved in solving a math problem. Or they may unintentionally skip sections of a writing assignment.

Help your child come up with a list of steps so he can cross them off as he completes them. For some kinds of homework, like math, you may need to ask the teacher for an example of a solved problem, showing each step. Breaking down assignments can also help kids work on long-term assignments at a steady pace.

5. Put away the phone.

Texting and checking social media while doing homework can be a major distraction. This is especially true for kids with attention issues. It takes away time he could be spending on homework. It also means he has to re-familiarize himself with the assignment every time he comes back to it. This may cause him to skip steps and speed up to finish it.

Make it a policy that your child charges his phone—in another room!—during homework time. And set a good example by putting your phone away when completing tasks of your own.

6. Encourage him to check his work.

In the rush to get homework over with, kids may skip over the important final check for careless errors, misspelled words and illegible handwriting. If your child does this, look over his work when he says he’s finished. If you notice typos or other mistakes, remind him that the homework isn’t done until he fixes these issues.

Work together to set up a checklist he can review. Can I read what I wrote? Did I use capitals and end punctuation? Did I spell-check my work? Did I complete all the examples? This can help him get into the habit of checking his work on his own.

7. Get him the help he needs.

If your child rushes through homework or just leaves answers blank, it could be a sign of a bigger issue. Talk to your child’s teacher about what you’re seeing. You may decide that your child needs an evaluation. This could lead to formalized supports for your child.

If he already has an or a , talk with the teacher about your child’s current supports. You may need to review his to see if he needs new or different ones.

8. Explore apps.

If learning differences make a specific aspect of an assignment hard for your child, he may rush through it out of frustration. Kids with dysgraphia, for example, may struggle with the mechanics of writing. Apps like ModMath can help kids work on math problems without using a pencil. You can search for apps for your child in Tech Finder.

9. Focus on your child’s strengths.

When kids struggle with school and homework, they may not be confident that they can do homework well. As a result, they may rush through it thinking, “What’s the point?” Explore ways you can boost your child’s self-esteem. Remind him of his strengths and of his accomplishments in areas outside of school. A reminder that hard work pays off could motivate him to slow down, check his work—and reap the benefits of a job well done.

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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.