What to Do When Your Child Isn’t Finishing Their Work

For parents of homeschoolers or in-person schoolers who have difficulty completing their work, it can be a mystery that stumps the most cleverest amongst us and leaves us wondering how to get them back on track. We know they are capable, yet work remains done or temper tantrums and flat-out refusal may ensue. Such circumstances can directly impact the dynamics in the home and trickle down into other facets of homelife.

Here are some top tips for digging deep into such challenges and how to work with your child to get things going, even if they never really were!

  1. Talk with your child. Ask them what is hard about getting their work done. The answer may surprise you. It may have nothing to do with the type of work given at all. Find out from them some ideas of what they think might help to improve their work completion. These conversations can smooth out the rough edges and also teach your child important communication skills to resolve conflict and challenges.
  2. Consider setting a timer and giving a concrete amount of time to work. Sometimes the task may simply feel overwhelming and a child who does not developmentally have a sense of time or has neurodiversity may react by avoidance or outbursts. Setting a finite time with a definite beginning and end can help to scaffold this skill of work for them. If they can only work for one minute independently to begin with…go with it! Start with their success point and work your way up.
  3. Balance. Depending on what type of schooler you are or if this is a homework situation if your child is an in-person schooler, see what options you can offer your child for some child-led learning time. Perhaps it might look like asking them what they want to learn about and building lessons around that if you use unit studies or unschooling. For more traditional set-ups or homework situations, you may consider giving a when-then challenge that includes preferred activities. For example, you can say,”When you have X amount of this done, you may….(fill in the blank with whatever activity they like to do such as legos, etc.)
  4. When…then for technology. If technology is a part of the issue, use the above mentioned when/then technique with tech. That is the way we work it in our household and it works marvelously (for us). There are a million different ways you can vary it for your family. There isn’t one right way, so you may have to tweek it here and there before you find a program of sorts that works for your family.

If you would like more guidance on how to set your child up for homeschool or homework success, contact me at Also check out all of my homeschool and parenting coaching services at