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Help Your Child Manage Procrastination

Does your child start school assignments too late and struggle to finish on time? Here's how you can help your student with time management.

GreatSchools Blog

Does your child put off starting a paper until the last minute? Do you often find him up late, slaving away to finish an assignment the night before it's due?

You may feel helpless watching your child endure the pangs of looming deadlines and new and challenging assignments. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. Although you can't do the work for your child, your support, encouragement and understanding is important.

Time Management

Many students have difficulty managing their time as they begin to juggle class work, extracurricular activities and jobs. Most don't schedule enough time to get their work done and also maintain their commitments at school and home.

Familiar Assignments

Most assignments your child is given probably resemble work he's done before. He should try to estimate how long it will take him based on past experience. It can be helpful to break assignments down into their components. For example, when writing an essay he should estimate how long it will take to:

  • Review all the materials
  • Develop ideas
  • Write each page
  • Edit her writing
  • Get someone else to review it
  • Take breaks

Instead of just saying: "I'll work on it after school," your child should try to create a concrete plan of when he will work on each part of the assignment. It's a good idea to give himself more time than he thinks he needs in case something unexpectedly takes longer.

New Assignments

In the case of a new or unusual assignment, your child should try to compare it to other assignments wherever possible. For example, if he's never written a 20-page paper before, he can assume each five pages of his 20-page paper will require about the same time. He should schedule in extra time to tie each part of the essay together.

Take Breaks

Your child will need to take breaks periodically. It's important for him to rest his eyes, keep his blood flowing and relax mentally. Sometimes a quick walk around the block will refresh and reinvigorate his mind ? and get his creative juices flowing again.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

01/25/2010:
"Hi! I'm an 8th-grader with a big procrastinating problem, but I've been browsing around your site and it really does have some helpful techniques for organization. I do wish that most teachers would give homework according to our strengths and weaknesses, but I guess it's better to get adapted it. Thanks so much for the tips and tricks, because now I have wayyy more confidence in finishing the nasty homework I got this weekend. THANKS!!"
01/12/2009:
"I have trouble with time keeping but now my mum says I can't work after 10:00pm. This has helped and it works most days unless I have loads and loads of work in which case I either (if all else fails) ask the teacher for another day or just stay up later. I always try and do work on the day it is set unless it is a big piece. If it is I do a little bit each day to break it up."
04/3/2008:
"I have a difficult time managing my time well. I already make schedules for myself for each component with extra time & breaks included. This doesn't always help, but it is useful. I am going into high school, & there is a LOT of pressure on me to succeed so I can get a scholarship, and also do well @ dance to maybe get one from there. I am taking a high school course right now, & I know what i'm in for. I agree, not ALL the stress comes from just OUTSIDE the classroom..."
03/28/2008:
"Just once I'd like a 'pro school' site to take responsibility for what is the school's responsibility. 'stress outside the classroom can affect ....' What about the stress created BY the classroom...the stress created BY the teacher???? Must you always pretend teachers/classroom instruction is 'manna from heaven'?"
03/21/2008:
"Our son is 12 in 6th grade, daughter is 7 in second grade. Both kids have issues getting homework finished. Our son has ADHD,so he struggles harder than his sister has to. He puts off homework til the last minute. Then I stress over that. Now if I can get our son to use these tools you have provided.It is a struggle when both parents work full time and often overtime, to be able to pay the bills, so we cannot take the time we need/want to be able to help our kids with homework.When we get overstressed, our outlet is the kids are in scouts- Our son is a Boy Scout and our 7 year old in Girl Scouts. She has a hard time staying organized too. I worry about juggling school, scouts, church and homelife just like any mom does. Your forums are so useful.We will use the info you have given and hopefully we will end up with more organized and happier kids. THANK YOU!!!"
03/21/2008:
"That last sentence doesn't work for boys in high school. The girls may talk to someone but boys don't. They have already learned the 'code' which is to rely on themselves to tough it out. "
02/26/2008:
"Thanks for the tips, I'm working now on trying to get my child interested in getting on with college and walking across the stage. By me being away from home and just paying support the school system sees my as a nulinvoid dad and no info can be given to me except for basic. And not direct about my child and I have to beg her for the info. and the other parent might as well be away from her parental job. Now my child is living with another subling which is older then her but is trying to teach her the important of finishing school. I think that if the other parent want to get involved in the child's education that the school should greet it with open arms. And, I did not get this greeting. Something to do with Security and I had letters proof that I was the one paying the support and living half way across the country made it difficult if not impossible to dispute or differ."
11/30/2006:
"I just wanted to let you know that this information is very helpful and encouraging. I have a big family and don't really get into the bling'We wing it on the one income slide so I can be tuned into the kids. I put god first, then the family I can make up for the money later on though at times it is really tight.I believe the most important job is being a parent and we don't get a second chance on that one. but we always can get another chance at making money and having that drean carrer. The value of the upbringing of these kids is very serious and that should be the top priority as well. thanks you so very much and god bless!"
11/29/2006:
"A great help to me at this point. My daughter is a procrastinator but I also see I too can procrastinate. Breaking down the work load and estimating the time it will take in steps helps me sequence an otherwise difficult task. Thank you."
11/29/2006:
"Thanks for the suggestions. These are very simple reminders. Sometimes in the middle of all the commotion my brain tends to forget the simple things. Your emails are always insightful. "
11/28/2006:
"I agree entirely about children wanting to have it all and parents allowing it and wanting it also. We need to teach children and society that 'stuff' doesn't feed the soul, spirit, and self esteem. We need to teach that it is about accomplishment, giving, helping,learning, and growing the way God wants us to, rather than the 'bling'that the celebrities show off. Even the politians overspend. Why does the whitehouse at Christmas time have to go all out. Why can't they cut back and give to the families who lost their loved ones in war for a mere $12,000. It is the leaders who need to start the 'fad' of less bling, over extravagance and more giving and being conservative. Maybe then there will be a domino effect or it will trickle down. Something has got to happen big, soon because we are raising greedy, bratty children who aren't going to know how to handle working hard for 5 yrs. just to get a bit of a financial raise and/or a higher notch on the career ladder. With the gam! es, music, tv's, all that 'stuff' is just teaching instant gratification. Survival of the fittest work won't go far for our next generation without reward in their mind. I have caught myself being caught up in trying to give my son what his 'rich' freinds have-my son is good at playing me so he can have it all to. I caught on and don't 'allow' him tomanipulate me.When I just stick to the principles I believe in he says he is all alone in that reguard because his freinds have way more than him.. It is our duty as parents to slow down, spend quality time and not overspend, it is easy to do and we must start somewhere and be conciensious of how the x generation children are going to turn out and their children's values."
11/28/2006:
"Thank you for the insightful suggestions. I have a procrastinating 7th grader. This year will the toughest in middle school and he has to get organized otherwise it will not be a good year. Your excellent website helps me so much as a single mom of 2."
11/28/2006:
"That's all part of a really good plan. I especially like the 'body in motion, stays in motion' I think my son will reall 'get' that! I have to agree with From California, those of us who choose to spend time with our children can see the benefit. It's really hard work sometimes, but SO worthwhile. You don't need an expensive lifestyle to raise thoughtful, caring children who are proud that they are doing their best. The new car/multiple car, multiple TV, every toy/video game on the planet lifestyle does nothing but raise greedy, introverted brattish children. When we wonder what is happening to our society we should take a look at exactly that - we are evolving into a race of peole with no time for ourselves, let alone each other! If we don't learn the importance having time for each other as children, the situation can only get worse. To beat procrastnaton a person has to have a plan, plans and planning all take time - can we find some?"
11/28/2006:
"Thank You! I love to recieve any advice on what may help my child succeed in school, who wouldn't?! But forgive me for wanting to get something off my chest...The truth is, it's getting the parents to pay attention, chances are, the children are already begging for it! As a society, we are becoming more self indulgent all the time. Nowadays more often than not it seems, most people tend to create these lifestyles where in order to satisfy their desires, both parents are having to cram multiple jobs/careers into their days with important stuff like work schedules, shopping, cleaning etc, but seem to forget the one most important thing, our children, leaving little time for them. Why? After all aren't they the reason we were trying to provide a home in the first place? All too often our childrens attention is sacrificed for our own selfish gains of becoming better, richer, more powerful and use our children as the excuse to do so, 'oh I'm doing it for my children'. No it's not! I mean yes of course for those who are one parent families and have to work all hours to keep a roof over their families heads, but I'm talking about those others, yes, you know who you are, I've been bitten by the bug before myself, but I got out when I saw the warning signs of my childrens moods, their grades start slipping and all you have time to do is fuss at them for it. Our children don't need big new SUV's or the large fancy houses, or the fancy lifestyles we're trying to maintain, if you can afford it easily then great! But those are our own wants, and now we're teaching our children that too. Now they think that making more money is more important than your own child, and we've taught them that all thats really important in life is getting the biggest, t! he best, the fanciest there is, and that it's ecceptable to forfiet your childrens attention in your persuit. All our children really want is just us. They really need attention, love, support, help, and company...the good kind. "
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