My Fifth-Grader Rushes Through His Homework
By Kathy Glass, Consulting Educator
My son is smart, but he rushes through his homework and then gets some of it w rong. When I ask him about the problems, he is able to tell me the correct answers. How can I get him to not rush through his homework?
It sounds as though you are speaking of math in particular. If your child is able to get accurate answers when asked, but shows incorrect work because he rushes, then he might not be challenged. You probably wrote to "Ask the Expert" because you have monitored his work for a while and noticed this recurring behavior.
In my consulting, I collaborate with teachers extensively on differentiating instruction so that all students are challenged. This means that in a given classroom, students are working on different assignments that each meet the same overarching goals. If your son's teacher gives all students the same assignment, then she may not be serving the needs of your son (and probably others) if the assignments are repetitive and easy for him. Students who are continually given work that's too easy at school exhibit the behavioral characteristics you have described.
Request a meeting with your son's teacher and explain that he consistently knows the final answer to problems, but he is not interested in taking the time to show his work correctly. Request that your son be assigned more challenging problems within the same unit of study. Hopefully his teacher will agree. If so, discuss this new option with your son. Explain that you understand he might have been frustrated by doing work below his ability level. But by working on more complicated problems that offer a challenge, you expect that he will take the time to work through them carefully and show more effort. Collaborate with his teacher to monitor how this new approach works.
If he is appropriately challenged and still rushes, then put a timer on his desk at home where he does his homework. Tell him that he cannot move on to the next problem until the timer goes off. Reward generously with many hugs and praise when he takes the time to show his work correctly and arrive at the right answer.
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.