With everything that kids have on their plates – after-school clubs, sporting events, scout meetings, dance practices, etc – it can be a struggle to feel motivated and prepared when it’s time to settle down and get homework done. One of the best ways to combat these feelings is to help your child get organized and make sure they understand how to prevent putting off their assignments.
Here are five tips you can incorporate into your child’s routine to avoid homework procrastination and jump-start their success.
1. Create a calendar.
Whether this is in your child’s student planner or on a family calendar, make a list of all of their assignments, reports, projects, and when they will be due. Make sure to add any extracurricular events and other family obligations, and note when any of these dates are close to each other or overlapping. Once your child has a better understanding of their routine, go ahead and schedule time on free-days for doing homework or studying. This will help your child avoid having too much to accomplish on any given night.
2. Break down larger projects.
It can be difficult – and sometimes intimidating – for students to begin a large project. Try approaching it by breaking down the assignment into several smaller steps. Put the steps into chronological order and estimate how long each part will take. The work with your child to determine when they should have each items (such as “Select report topic” or “Write essay introduction”) completed. Add these steps to their planner or calendar. Keeping up with these smaller steps will remove the stress of trying to finish the entire project the day before it’s due.
3. Sort assignments by completion time.
Your child probably knows which items will take the shortest amount of time and which will take them much longer. Try listing them out by completion time and getting the quick assignments out of the way first before moving on to more difficult ones.
You could also approach this by encouraging your child to do an assignment they like first. For example, maybe your child loves reading, but has a more difficult time with math. Completing their reading assignment first will give them a sense of accomplishment and make them feel like they have less left to do when it comes to their math assignment.
4. Schedule breaks.
Working non-stop can be a drain for your child, especially if they’ve been busy with school and activities all day. Sometimes the best thing they can do is to walk away from their desk for a few minutes to clear their head. Something as simple as grabbing a snack or checking their phone can help them come back to their homework feeling refreshed. Try scheduling a short, 5-minute break after every 30 minutes of work. This could also apply when your child is hung up on a particular math problem or stuck on a writing assignment.
5. Get ahead.
Once your child is caught up with all of their current projects, it might be a good idea to ask teachers about upcoming assignments to get ahead of the game. For example, if your child has a book to read for English class, ask the teacher which chapters will be due on which dates. Then, when it comes time to actually complete the reading, try reading the homework chapter and then part of the next. This way, when the next chapter is due, there will be less work to do.
This technique could also help if your child has a hectic extra-curricular schedule. If your child always has soccer on Thursday nights, and they always have a particular item due on Fridays, try getting this homework item done by Wednesdays every week. Over time, you and your family can find a routine that works for you so your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed by homework at the end of the day.
Still think your child could benefit from some extra pointers? Consider Sylvan’s Study Skills programs! Our tutors use a variety of study tips and strategies to help get your child more organized, strategically plan projects and achieve goals!