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    Why Students Rush Through Work & How to Correct It

    Your child comes home from school, eyes his newest video game, and speeds through his schoolwork 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 schoolwork can lead to the following effects that hinder a child’s learning experience and overall development:

    • Reduced Comprehension: Speeding through assignments often leads to poor comprehension. Students may miss key concepts and instructions, which can affect their ability to build on that knowledge in the future.

    • Inadequate Learning: Hurried work can result in surface-level learning rather than deep understanding. Students may remember enough to get by on the assignment or test but fail to truly integrate the knowledge into their long-term memory.

    • Poor Study Habits: Over time, rushing can lead to the development of poor study habits. Students may become accustomed to last-minute cramming and not learn how to effectively plan and execute a study schedule.

    • Negative Feedback Loop: Students who rush and then receive poor grades may enter a negative feedback loop where anxiety leads to rushing, which leads to poor performance, reinforcing the anxiety.

    • Decreased Motivation: If rushing leads to poor outcomes, students may become demotivated, feeling that no matter how hard they try, they can’t succeed, which can lead to a decrease in effort.

    But WHY do they rush?

    • Lack of Engagement: If the material doesn’t capture the child’s interest or seems irrelevant to them, they may rush through it to move on to something more engaging.

    • Difficulty with Task: Sometimes, if a task is too challenging, a child may rush to complete it to avoid the frustration or anxiety associated with the difficulty.

    • Overwhelming Workload: A heavy workload can lead to children rushing through assignments to simply get everything done, especially if they are involved in numerous activities outside of school.

    • Performance Pressure: The pressure to perform well and achieve high grades can cause children to work quickly, sometimes at the expense of quality and thorough understanding.

    • Time Management Skills: Children often have not yet fully developed effective time management skills, leading them to misjudge the amount of time tasks will take and rush to complete them at the last minute.

    • Distractions and Short Attention Span: The presence of distractions, such as electronic devices, or a naturally short attention span can lead to hurried work as children quickly lose focus.

    • Intrinsic Motivation: Lack of intrinsic motivation to do the task well can result in a child rushing through work to get to more pleasurable activities.

    • Executive Function Challenges: Some children may have underdeveloped executive function skills, which can affect their ability to plan, stay organized, and work at a measured pace.

    • Reward Systems: If parents or teachers have reward systems that inadvertently prioritize the completion of work over the quality of work, children may rush to finish in order to receive the reward.

    • Perceived Competency: Children who feel confident in their understanding may rush through work because they don’t feel the need to spend extra time on it.

    • Peer Comparison: Children may rush if they see their peers completing work quickly, under the misconception that speed is an indicator of competence.

    Understanding the reasons behind why children rush through their work can help educators and parents develop strategies to encourage more thoughtful and thorough completion of assignments.

    Tips to help them slow down:

    Using a timer

    • Assess the appropriate amount of time they should be spending on their homework. As children grow older and homework becomes more beneficial for their learning, the recommended amount increases. The NEA and the National PTA endorse the “10-minute rule,” which suggests 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night. So, a 3rd grader might have 30 minutes of homework, while a 6th grader might have up to 60 minutes. Set a timer to encourage them to be consistently working for durations of 15-25 minutes at a time. 

    Picking the right homework time

    • Assess when your child works best at home. For some, this may mean right after school while they still have energy. For others, they need a break after school and will do their best work after having a chance to relax. Oftentimes, children will rush through their work if they want to move on to the next activity so it may help them ease into their homework if they can have a snack or play outside before starting to work.

    Encourage self-checking

    • If your child is rushing through their work, they are often forgetting to self-check as they go or after they complete it. Reminding your child to self-check their work and providing them a framework to do so is a helpful intervention to show them how to take ownership of their own work and spend time putting in their best efforts. Possible frameworks include identifying things you feel they did well, followed by any errors you see in their work. Lead with inquiry and hold back from telling them what they did wrong.  Using a checklist and reviewing work together is also an effective strategy for this essential phase of homework. Remember to keep it positive!


    • When your child brings home their planner from school, it is essential that you work together to create a homework plan for that day. Part of this includes prioritizing the homework tasks they need to complete. Give your child ownership in creating the order of the list of assignments. If they prefer to get the more difficult tasks out of the way first, then help them follow that order. If not, then figure out together which smaller tasks they can begin with. Choosing an order of tasks that aligns with your child’s preferences will give them agency in their homework routine, which should lead to greater ownership of their work.

    Understanding the instructions

    • Another reason your child may be rushing through their work is that they are struggling with understanding what is being asked of them. Annotating the instructions together and having your child reteach you what the assignment is asking are effective methods to break apart the task and check for understanding. Encourage your child to ask you and the teacher questions about the content and instructions of assignments they are receiving to promote self-advocacy in their work. When your child feels they have a better understanding of what is being asked of them, it will be easier for them to want to work through the assignments.

    Lack of knowledge or skill deficiency

    • 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 this is the case, encourage self-advocacy by having your child talk to their teacher about receiving extra support on the content. You can assist with this outreach and provide additional support outside school to build up those skills.

    Let’s pause and reflect on the power of patience and persistence. The race to the finish line of homework may seem urgent to our young learners, eager to leap into the next adventure, whether it’s a video game or playtime. But it’s the steady, thoughtful pace that truly enriches their learning and paves the way for academic success and a lifetime of curious exploration. Here’s to the slow and steady wins that lead to a lifetime of victories! 🌟📚