Helping Gifted Children With Common Homework Problems

Young girls doing her homework

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The last thing most parents of gifted children would think their kids will have problems with is homework. After all, gifted children are cognitively advanced and learn quickly. Unfortunately, for some parents, visions of straight-A report cards are replaced by one or more (or even all) of these problems:

  • Child does homework but doesn’t turn it in
  • Child procrastinates
  • Child rushes and makes careless errors
  • Child says they did it at school, but didn’t

It's not unusual for a gifted child to experience some or all of these problems. It is difficult to motivate a child to do homework to begin with, despite that gifted children are often intrinsically motivated. The first step in solving these homework problems is to understand what causes them.

Reasons for Homework Problems

From learning disabilities to perfectionism, there are many reasons why a gifted child might have homework-related issues.

Learning Disability

A gifted child with dyslexia, an auditory processing problem, or some other learning disability may find it difficult to perform as well as they should in school and on homework.

Gifted children are not immune to learning disabilities and the effects of these challenges can be reflected in your child's homework-related behaviors, including avoidance.

Gifted children with undiagnosed disabilities may be confused and even embarrassed by the problems they have understanding concepts or doing their homework. It is much less psychologically and emotionally threatening to avoid doing the homework than it is to do it and fail at it. If they don't try, they could easily convince themselves that had they done the homework, they would have done it well.


Gifted children who are disorganized have a hard time doing homework because they have misplaced the assignment, forgot to bring the book or worksheet home or forgot the due date. Daily planners don’t always seem to help these children because they might lose, misplace, or forget to bring them.

If they have managed to bring all the necessary materials home on the right day, they can then forget to take it to school or they may take it to school, but be unable to find it in their backpack or they'll stuff it in their desk or locker at school, where it disappears until the end of the semester or school year.


Children who are perfectionists are often reluctant to complete their homework because they don’t feel it is good enough. If it doesn’t meet their standards, which tend to be quite high, they can become frustrated. Over time, they may procrastinate in order to avoid that frustration.

Perfectionist children may complete their homework, but then neglect to turn it in because they aren’t satisfied with it or they don’t feel that it reflects their true ability and don’t want their teacher to see it and evaluate it. Perfectionists may also choose to put little effort into their work since they can then rationalize the lack of perfection on the lack of effort.

Lack of Challenge

For any child, homework tasks should be optimally challenging. That means that they should not be too easy or too difficult. Tasks that are too difficult can lead to anxiety while tasks that are too easy can lead to boredom. In both cases, children find it difficult to concentrate on the task. They will avoid the tasks in order to avoid the unpleasant feeling—either anxiety or boredom—that comes with it.

Work that is not challenging or stimulating can be so tedious to complete that gifted children will avoid doing it at all costs.

When children are given tasks that are too difficult, they can get help learning the concepts or completing the task. When tasks are too easy, on the other hand, no help is necessary; children are simply expected to complete the tasks, in spite of the fact that boredom makes it just as difficult to concentrate on a task as anxiety does. Some children will manage to focus long enough to do the homework, but will rush through it to get it done and as a result, make numerous careless errors.

Homework Solutions

Solving your child's homework problems requires tackling the underlying issues. Once you've identified what's causing the problematic behavior, you can take steps to rectify it.

Get Help for Learning Disability

Gifted children with a learning disability may have problems with homework. Like all children with a learning disability, gifted children need to learn how to manage the disability and need specific learning strategies and classroom accommodations in order to work at their level of ability. It's important to recognize, however, that gifted children are often misdiagnosed with disorders like ADHD, bipolar, and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder).

Some (but not all) learning disabilities in gifted children can be discovered through IQ and achievement subtest scores as well as other assessment tests. This testing and any screenings for disorders should be done by a psychologist who has knowledge of and experience working with gifted children.

It's also important to understand that problems with homework can have many causes; looking for a disability should not necessarily be the first thing considered.

Help Your Child Get Organized

Some children have problems with homework because they forget to bring it home, forget the books they need to do it, forget to take it back to school, or forget when it's due. If they do remember all that, they may lose the homework, which may eventually turn up—at the end of the school year, stuffed with countless other papers in the child's desk or locker.

Organizational strategies can help your gifted child make sure that homework is turned in. The best method may depend on your child's age.

Consider creating a designated homework basket where your child will leave all school-related papers, notebooks, and books when they get home from school. When it's time to do homework, they'll pull what they need out of the basket. When they're done, they put it back. In the morning, everything they need is in one place, ready to take to school.

While you might get your child to do the homework and take it to school, there is no guarantee that your child will turn it in. What can you do to make sure the homework gets turned in? A plastic, expanding folder with separate compartments is a good way to help kids keep track of work that needs to be turned in.

Each compartment can be labeled so that a child knows where the homework is for each class. The expanding folder can be used along with the homework basket. When homework is completed, rather than just placing it in the basket, it can be placed in the appropriate compartment of the expanding folder, which is kept in the basket.

These techniques can work for teens as well as young children, but teens might also find an electronic organizer useful. Teens love electronic gadgets, so they might be more motivated to keep track of their work electronically. It eliminates assignments written in numerous different places, including little scraps of paper.

Set a Homework Schedule

Gifted children will often rush through homework that is too easy for them. They are eager to get it done so that they can move on to more interesting and stimulating activities.

It is helpful to set a time every day to complete homework. This time must be used for study whether the child has homework or not. When children have homework, they know they must do it during this time.

If the homework takes them only 15 minutes and their assigned study time is one hour, they must fill in the remaining time with additional study.

The additional study can consist of enrichment activities. For example, if your child has an assignment to draw a map of the expansion of the Roman Empire, you might have them write an essay about the Romans or a short story about an imaginary Roman soldier. Once children know they must fill the assigned study time, they may be less likely to rush through their homework just to get it done and move on to other activities.

Consistency is key. The daily study time should be at the same time every day. Consider discussing the options with your child so they can share some control. Your child might choose to do their homework right after school or they might choose to do it right after dinner. Either way, the set time should be consistent.

Although homework time should be the same every day, children who are involved in extracurricular activities may need a more complex schedule. They may need to do homework right after school on Mondays because they have a dance class after dinner but will do homework after dinner on the other days. Consistency will help your child learn that scheduling time for homework is important, and can reinforce necessary time management skills.

Talk to Their Teachers

If a child has had issues getting homework done and turned in for so long that it has become a habit, other strategies may be needed at school, whether the teachers provide more challenging work or not.

Communication with your child's teacher is a key to success. Ideally, teachers will recognize the need for more challenging homework and will be willing to provide it.

Some schools have homework hotlines that parents can call to find out about homework assignments. In addition, some teachers have websites, where they post assignments, giving you more insight into your child's homework assignments.

Parents can also arrange with a teacher to sign daily papers about homework. Every day a child writes down homework and has the teacher sign a paper, even when there is no homework. Children cannot say they have no homework when they do.

On those days children have no homework, they should still spend their designated homework time studying. However, for this system to work, children and parents must agree on a consequence for failing to bring home a signed homework sheet. Good study habits are important for success in school and these strategies can help develop those habits.

7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. National Association for Gifted Children. Organization Skills.

  4. National Association for Gifted Children. Perfectionism.

  5. Casino-García AM, García-Pérez J, Llinares-Insa LI. Subjective Emotional Well-Being, Emotional Intelligence, and Mood of Gifted vs. Unidentified Students: A Relationship Model. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(18):3266. doi:10.3390/ijerph16183266

  6. Webb JT, Amend ER, Webb NE, Goerss J, Beljan P, Olenchak FR. Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children. Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted.

  7. Institute for Educational Advancement. Identifying and Acknowledging Your Child’s Gift.

By Carol Bainbridge
Carol Bainbridge has provided advice to parents of gifted children for decades, and was a member of the Indiana Association for the Gifted.