Your child comes home from school, eyes his newest video game, and speeds through his school work to “get it over with” and start playing. Does this scenario sound familiar? Many students rush through their schoolwork, doing the absolute minimum required, and make careless mistakes along the way. Rushing through work in this fashion can harm students’ grades and negatively affect their overall performance in school. Help your child slow down and improve his homework skills with the ideas detailed below.
Use a Timer
Identify a specific amount of time that your child should spend completing homework in a given night, and set a timer for that period of time. A general rule of thumb is 10 minutes of homework per grade per night. Thus, if your child is in first grade, she should spend roughly ten minutes per night on homework; if she is in third grade, she should spend about 30 minutes per night. When she sits down to begin her homework, set a timer for that specified amount of time. If she finishes before the timer rings, have her do another academic activity, like writing in a journal or reading a book.
Find the Right Homework Time
Children tend to perform best at various times in the day. For some children, completing homework as soon as they arrive home from school is best. Yet others many feel frazzled or overwhelmed after a long day of school and, if expected to do homework right away, may rush to “get it over with” and relax. Rather than forcing your child to work at a time that is not ideal for him, try to assess when he works best. He may need some down time after school to play outside or have a snack before beginning his homework. This approach can help him slow down and feel both focused and refreshed when starting his homework.
Many students rush through their assignments and neglect to go back to self-check their work. Rather than telling your child to simply “check” her work, provide her with tools for doing so. The COPS checklist, for instance, is a useful one for self-checking writing assignments. Once she is done writing a paragraph or essay, have her go back and check individually for C (Capitalization), O (Organization), P (Punctuation), and S (Spelling). You can create similar checklists for math sheets, book reports, projects, and so on, and individualize them as much as possible to common errors that your child makes.
Encourage your child to prioritize his assignments. Some students prefer completing longer, more arduous tasks first. Others enjoy the confidence and momentum they gain by starting with smaller, easier tasks. Try to understand your child’s preference and help him order his assignments each night accordingly. For instance, if he prefers the harder assignments first option, help him number his assignments in order from most to least arduous, such as: “1) Complete essay; 2) Answer reading comprehension questions; 3) Complete math problems.” Encourage him to prioritize assignments in a manner that suits him best.
Talk to the Teacher
Some kids rush through their work simply because they are challenged by it. Rather than trying to grasp a confusing topic, they may choose to rush through the assignment just so they can be done with it and put it aside. If you notice this pattern, talk to your child’s teacher to see if she is noticing these patterns at school, too. If so, help your child (or seek outside support) to truly understand the content being taught.
Many students experience slipping grades and poor work products as a result of rushing through their work. Use these tips to help your child slow down, stay focused, and ultimately excel in school.
Dr. Emily Levy is the founder of EBL Coaching, a tutoring program that specializes in one-on-one home and on-site instruction for students in grades preK-12 in NYC and NJ. She is also the author of Strategies for Study Success, a study skills workbooks series emphasizing test taking, note taking, reading comprehension, writing, and summarizing strategies, and the Flags and Stars Orton Gillingham student workbook series. These workbooks are currently used at schools nationwide. To learn more about Emily Levy and EBL Coaching, visit eblcoaching.com!