What To Do About Too Much Homework

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homework helpI don’t have to tell you that your kids have too much homework. It’s a rare parent that thinks that the nightly chore of reviewing and previewing and rehashing the day’s work is as necessary as the government seems to think it is. Throw a dose of ADHD into homework time, and…well, it can be a nightmare.

My kids and I both loved school. We generally had great teachers, good instruction, and lots of fun. But I still dreaded the start of the year because of the homework. (Okay, and because we couldn’t sleep late, but don’t tell.)

There is supposed to be a homework standard. Children should only take 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. Honestly, that seems reasonable. But we all know that for an ADHD child, that 10 minutes is often tripled.

And a recent study by The American Journal of Family Therapy found that on average, grade school children have more homework than is recommended by the NEA. A lot of the homework load seems to be in preparation for the constant barrage of testing.

So what’s a parent to do. Well my gut is to say that we will all rise up together and refuse to stress our families out for something of dubious efficacy. But I never was willing to change the world at the expense of my child.

There are a few steps that you can take, however.

1. Communicate. I know that goes without saying, but if homework is overwhelming, let the teacher know where the problems lie.

2. Reduce. Ask for a accomodations and modifications in your next 504 or IEP meeting. This could be as simple as saying that your child only has to work for a certain amount of time. It could mean that your child only has to do every other math problem, or that they could dictate their spelling sentences to you and let you write them.

3. Equip. Make sure that you have everything you need for homework. There is nothing so frustrating as getting all settled in to do science homework, and discovering that you don’t have the required ruler, or finding out that the math book is at school. Make a list now of all the school supplies you think you might need, and gather them while they are on sale! (Order from Amazon.com, and we get a small commission from your purchase.)

4. Connect. If your school communicates homework electronically, then log on! Ask if your child can take a picture of the homework board. If your child loses their homework, see if the teacher will allow you to email a scan of the night’s work. Just get really familiar with the ways that the internet and other electronic means can help you. If you use a paper calendar, take a look at our PAC-kit, that has helped so many children get organized.

adhd planner

5. Relax. I know. Homework doesn’t lend itself to relaxation. But remember your Lamaze breathing and breathe through the stress. Make a resolution now to make this a better year in those all important hours that children are at home with you.

In fact – that’s your homework assignment.

PS If you’ve not read our Waking Up from the Homework Nightmare…now’s a great time. AND you’ll get extra credit on your assignment.

*See Homework and Family Stress: With Consideration of Parents’ Self Confidence, Educational Level, and Cultural Background by Pressman, Sugarman, Neman, Desjarlais, Owens, and Schettini-Evans.


About Kayla

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys, three of whom have been formally diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD. When she started “Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?” in 2002, her sons were ages 8 through 14, when her life was a “progression of dirty laundry, lost homework, misunderstood Algebra, and a whole lot of love and fun”.

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