Ask the Horizons Team: Homework Battle


Ask the Horizons Team: Homework Battle


My 9-year-old son has a really difficult time with homework and it becomes a battle every night.  I feel like from the minute he gets off the bus we are trying to tackle getting it all done, and it’s making me crazy.  Do you have any suggestions of how to make this better for both of us?

Shelley in West Virginia


Hi Shelley,

Ah yes, homework can be a major issue for families and you are far from the only parent to feel like it’s making you crazy! Homework can an issue for any child, but especially children with ADHD, autism, or another learning disorder.  I’ve got a few tips that should make things easier for you and your son:

  1. Make sure your son has some downtime after arriving home from school.  I know it can be tempting to try to get the homework stuff done right away, but it’s a lot to ask of any child who has just spent 7 hours at school.  The majority of kids need at least 30 minutes (often longer) to decompress after a day of sitting and focusing in the school environment.  Give him an opportunity to have a little snack, get some physical activity, sit and relax, or whatever is helpful for him.  This should help him recharge his batteries a bit before tackling the assignments.
  2. Work with the school to ensure that homework is appropriate in content and length.  I am a firm believer that kids should not be spending hours on homework each night.  It is detrimental to their engagement in family life, and doesn’t do anything to improve their learning.  I could write an entire essay about why homework is not very productive, but I won’t get into that here!  The bottom line is that your son shouldn’t need to spend more than 20 minutes to get the assignments done.  If the amount of work coming home is taking longer than that, talk with his teacher(s) about reducing the assignments to a more reasonable level.
  3. Provide a motivator for your son to finish his homework.  You likely know what is motivating for him, but things like spending 1-1 time with you, watching a little television, playing a game, etc. can be incentives for sitting down and getting the assignments finished.
  4. As with everything, it is important for you to stay calm during the homework process.  Try to avoid getting into arguments or threatening.  Quietly and firmly remind him about what needs to be done and stay with him until it’s finished.  The more you can stay emotionally regulated the easier it will be for him!

Wishing you happier homework times,


  • robin
    March 12, 2012

    Nicole has the right ideas. Bus rides home can be very overwhelming/stimulating for students and make it difficult to settle down following. Tell me more about your son and school. Does he get work done in an age appropriate time frame during the school day? Does he do his work independently at school or need guidance from the teachers? Breaking homework into 5-8 min chunks may be better than 20-30 minutes at a time. Work with the teacher and even cut up homework pages and do one section at time. Sometimes a high school student can help out and take the emotion out of homework time for you.

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