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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learn from Experience
If some part of the assignment takes longer than he expected, your child should be sure to schedule more time to accomplish it when the next assignment rolls around. If he finds a particular book, person or idea helps him complete an assignment once, he should keep that resource in mind for future assignments.
Your child will encounter a wide variety of assignments throughout high school and beyond. New and challenging projects will help expand his knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, pressures to perform well and get into college can sometimes overwhelm students and affect their ability to handle demanding classes.
Take Baby Steps
If your child just doesn’t know how to get started, above all, he shouldn’t just put it off until later. He should start early, with small steps, and try not to judge himself. The laws of physics apply to tackling schoolwork as well: a body that’s in motion tends to stay in motion.
Your Child Is Not Alone
Students can expect to get occasionally stumped by assignments, especially as they advance through high school and the work becomes more complicated. If your child is having trouble, he should be sure to talk to his teacher. Asking for help doesn’t mean he’s not a good student. His teacher is there to make sure he understands the coursework and will probably have helpful suggestions.
Your child’s teacher or high school counselor may also be able to recommend tutors to help him with tough subjects or assignments.
Beyond School Work Stress
When students are going through difficult times outside the classroom, it can affect their powers of concentration and motivation to work. If your child is having problems that may be affecting his performance in school he should be sure to seek help. He can speak with his high school counselor or with another counseling professional.