Snowy Valleys School

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Getting kids to do homework is a challenge for all children, not just kids on the spectrum. There can be a variety of factors causing kids to what to avoid homework, but the first question to ask involves identifying factors which may inhibit students from completing homework.

The following is homework advice that can be found on the autism discussion page on Facebook:

  • For some kids, they connect school work with school and will resist doing school work at home. It is something they do at school, period! These children are very stimulus bound, meaning the activities are very connected to a specific setting or location.
  • If school work is very hard for them, and/or they do not feel competent doing it, then they will resist doing it when at home.
  • Many of the students have executive functioning skills, making it difficult to organize their work, know where or how to get started, and be able to break it down and sequence the work to get it done. Often times they do not know how much time it will take to do it, or know when it is "good enough." When they think of doing it, they get overwhelmed.
  • Like with all children, there are often more fun things to distract them, which they do not want to leave. Trying to get the kids to leave a preferred activity (video games) to do a non-preferred activity (homework) can result in strong resistance.

There are several things you can do to increase responsiveness. Depending on the child you may need to incorporate several of these strategies.

  • Schedule set times to do homework for the same time every day. Also, pick a spot that is distraction free to do their homework. It is important to set up a consistent routine that stays the same each day. If the child doesn’t have homework for that day, have extra work that can be done at that time. This way the child has homework time every day.
  • Most kids do not have the attention span to do homework for long. It is recommended that children have no more than one hour of homework a day. That hour may need to be broken down into two 30 minute sessions, one before dinner and one after dinner.
  • Try to do the homework before a more preferred activity. For example, doing 30 minutes of homework after coming home from school, before doing a fun activity (however, many kids need 30-60 minutes of downtime or physical activity to rebound). Then set aside another 30 minutes right after dinner before free time in the evening. If the child is resistant, do not argue. It can be important to validate a student's feelings with positive reinforcement phrases such as;  "I can understand how you might not feel like doing it right now. That's ok. Take a break and do it when you are ready". However, all fun activities cannot occur until the homework gets done. This way it becomes the child's choice.
  • Always have a set time, so the child knows exactly the beginning and end to the homework session. Kids on the spectrum do much better when there is set time (e.g. 30 minutes) that is predictable and easy for them to see. For children who will simply avoid doing much work during this time, identify how much work needs to be done as the criterion for the session ending. Only put out what needs to be completed for the session to end. This way when the work is completed the session is done.
  • Break it down, keep it simple. Break homework down into simple portions so it does not seem overwhelming when they look at it. It is better to break it down into small easy to do parts, so it does not overwhelm them. A good rule of thumb is no more than 15-30 minutes (depending upon how easy the subject is for the child) for each subject. A little bit of homework done well with interest is better than a lot of homework that was done with confrontation. You want the sessions to be successful and fun for it to be perceived as positive.
  • Set up a consistent sequence, so the child knows when to move from one task to another, sometimes using a visual timer to notify the child when to move on.
  • Help the child get started since Initiating activity is difficult for many kids. Help them get started and if the task is hard, do it together, scaffolding the activity to make it successful.

Make sure when the homework is completed it is placed in the child's folder/backpack, so it gets to school. Also, make sure the teacher is reminding the child to hand it in. Many children struggle with being organised and will forget to bring home the work, put it in their backpack when completed, and to turn it in. This is not laziness. It is actually due to a brain wiring difference in the frontal lobes of the brain. Build in supports (reminds), or use a checklist for the child to remember.


The Homework grid (PPTX 117KB) can be used to help students understand homework, and other tactics that may make it easier for students to complete it. These tactics include having a child tell you what they learned at school, reading a book associated with what they are learning, using technology and so on.