Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Five Tips: Help your student finish their homework

Posted February 26, 2016

Editor's Note: Skylar Anderson, a dad, is behind StudyRight, which offers study skill training for middle school and high school students. Now that we're more than half way through the school year (for traditional calendar students), he shares these tips.

It's nearly Spring Break, which seems to be one of the most difficult times of year for students to find the motivation to do their homework, but there is a long way to go in the semester still. For some, that means they can still bring those grades up. For others, it means getting too relaxed about their homework could still drop their grades.

For all students, one major key is avoiding the top two grade-killers we've seen for years: "zeroes" from incomplete homework, and late grades for missed due dates. If you're interested in helping your student avoid those land mines, consider these five tips to help get that homework finished.

1. Have a system for keeping homework organized.

The key word here is "system." Most students have some way to stay organized (or fake it anyway). Few have a comprehensive system that ensures no assignments are missed or misplaced.  We find that students who lack a comprehensive system are the first to lose assignments or miss due dates.  If your student is in that boat, visit StudyRight for some additional tips on getting organized.

2. Keep all unfinished homework in the same place in their system.

I find a single pocket folder is the best solution to this. Digital files on a desktop can do the same thing if your student's homework is all on the computer. If students keep unfinished work in multiple places, it's unlikely they'll remember 100 percent of the time to do 100 percent of the work. Pick one place and put all of the unfinished work there, regardless of subject.

3. Help your students plan for when they'll do homework.

As the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Put homework time on a calendar. Even if your student doesn't have a lot of work to do every day, the rhythm of having a set time to complete homework will make the process far easier than waiting until they get the urge to do the work.

4. Don't stop working until the homework folder is empty.

Sure, your student can take a five-minute break every 20 to 25 minutes. But taking an hour-long break to watch a couple of television shows destroys momentum. We want finishing homework to be as easy as possible, and a set time with a set task (complete everything in your folder) can help build momentum for your student.

5. Make sure they have a small reward when they're done.

We want finishing homework to become a habit. One of the best ways to do that is to teach yourself that finishing everything feels good. Even a small piece of chocolate or some encouragement from a parent may be enough to help build that positive habit.

There is still time this semester to make finishing homework a habit. Follow these five steps, and we're confident your student can find a way to keep the energy for the semester going through May.


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