My Son Rushes Through His Work

By Dr. Michelle Alvarez, Consulting Educator


No matter how hard I try to instill in my son the value of quality over quantity, he does not get it. He constantly rushes through his work and makes careless mistakes. He understands the work. It's the easy, silly things he messes up on because he doesn't read the directions fully or thinks he could solve that math problem in his head. Please help!


The first person to consult with is your son's teacher, who can give you an assessment of what might be the root of any academic issues your son might have. The teacher should be able to provide instruction in a format that will allow your son to be successful.

For example, the teacher might have your son fold an assignment sheet so that only the directions are visible. Your son can go through and underline the words that give him direction on how to complete the assignment. Then he can unfold a portion of the assignment and complete these tasks, checking the underlined words as he is working. Then he can move on to another group of tasks. This method of working on an assignment "chunks" it into workable amounts.

The more strategies your son can learn to help him improve his school work, the more successful he is likely to be. He will quickly learn what helps him and what does not. The same strategies used at school can be used at home to complete homework. As soon as he finds what works for him, help him incorporate it into homework time.

Another issue to consider is whether the work is challenging enough to hold his interest. Again, his teacher would be the one to best assess this. Students who are gifted may not work to their potential because they are not challenged by their assignments. Finally, look and see if there is a pattern of careless work in first through third grade. If there is, perhaps the school psychologist could observe him and see if there are other factors affecting his academic performance.

Dr. Michelle Alvarez is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Indiana and project director of Safe Schools/Healthy Students for the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation. A former school social worker in Pinellas County, Florida, she is co-editor of School Social Work: Theory to Practice and chair of the National Association of Social Workers, School Social Work Section. She is also the parent of a special needs child.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.