Parents | Raising readers & learners.

Home of Parent & Child Magazine

Helpful Tips for Your Procrastinator

How to help your child stay on task when homework is the last thing he wants to do.
 

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Attention and Focus
Problem Solving
Responsibility
Self Control

Does it seem as though everything around your child seems far more interesting than doing her assignments? Do you feel that he can't keep his mind from wandering off task? Here are tips for helping your child stay focused so she doesn't end up leaving homework until the last minute.

Block off time beforehand.
It's Tuesday. Her science project is due Friday. She has choir practice after school until 4 p.m. You serve dinner at 6 p.m. Her favorite television show is on at 8 p.m. And bedtime is 9:30 p.m. How can she possibly fit the science project in? She may be thinking, "Better just wait for tomorrow to work on it."

But why put it off when you can get some of it accomplished today? As tempting as it is to delay work that isn't due for a couple of days, explain to your child that getting a little bit done at a time will make her life easier in the long run. Together, take a good look at her schedule. There's a 2-hour block after choir practice, so choose about 45 minutes — say 5:15 until you put dinner on the table — and start plowing through the work.

There. She's gotten some of it over with and she gets to reward herself by watching her favorite program. When you teach her to schedule a chunk of time to do projects or homework, it becomes like any other commitment she has to uphold.

Help him find a secluded spot.
Encourage him to get away from potential distractions before he cracks the books. Now, he shouldn't be working in a dungeon or anything, but it certainly helps the progress of his work if there's no television in the room, his friends aren't around, and his bed can't beckon him to take a nap. Help him find, or create, a suitable workspace with a comfortable chair and tabletop to spread out, either in your house or at the library. Make sure this is a place where he can concentrate without interruption.

Remind her to turn off instant messenger, the cell phone, whatever.
If her assignment requires her to work on a computer, have a conversation about signing on to instant messenger. Once just one buddy IMs her, it's going to be difficult to do anything productive.

Similarly, if she have a cell phone, advise her to put it on silent or turn it off completely. Unless she is expecting an important call from Mom or Dad, she can tuck it in her bag to better resist the urge to text message or call her friends.

Fix a snack before he starts.
One of the best excuses for taking a break? Getting some grub. Of course, the best procrastinators will mull over what they want to eat, take forever to browse the fridge or candy machine, then spend extra time actually eating the snack. So, here's what you do: make a tasty treat for your child before he starts working. Whether he's at home or going to the library, just fill a Ziploc baggie with cookies, crackers, or carrot sticks. That way, he can save the snack for when his stomach starts to grumble and not waste time.

First is the worst…so get it out of the way. 
When each of her looming assignments has equal importance or urgency, talk to her about doing the "worst" one first. Finishing it will make all the other assignments such a breeze that she'll sail on through, knowing that the least appealing isn't waiting for her as she gets further along into homework time.

Envision the light at the end of the tunnel
Your child is chugging along, being productive…and all of a sudden, he comes to you with a worried look, feeling like he's never going to finish, which, of course, makes him want to veg out, watch TV, surf the Internet, or do anything that doesn't involve school.

Support him and tell him not to give up. Help him use the power of positive thinking to envision the light at the end of the tunnel. Verbally go over what he has left to accomplish, breaking the work into small portions. Say to him, "Okay, once you finish these 5 math problems, you'll write observations from your science experiment. After that, you'll only have 5 more math problems to go. Piece of cake!" After chipping away what's left of his homework, he'll be pleasantly surprised to see that he's all done.

Find Just-Right Books

The Reading Toolkit

Sponsor Spotlight