Monday, 14 September 2015

Anti-Procrastination Strategies

One of THE most frustrating things about home education is procrastinating children. I hear that this can also be a problem for schooled children who have homework!

I have carefully planned their work. There are days when I misjudge it, but most of the time each child is given an amount of work which they could reasonably complete in the morning, or with maybe 1 or 2 assignments left for the afternoon. So WHY do they faff around rather than get on with it???!

This year, at least, I am confident that it will get better after the first couple of weeks, since it usually has before. So, how should do I deal with procrastination? I say should because there are plenty of times when I just get cross (which is, largely, completely ineffective).

1) Stay calm! Easier said than done, but it really does help.

2) Don't stand over a child (assuming they know what to do). The aim is for them to be able to work independently, which won't happen if they can only work if you stand there telling them to pick up a pen every 10 seconds. Set a timer, or make a cup of tea and catch up on e-mails for a few minutes before going to check how your child is getting on.

3) Natural consequences. If a child doesn't finish in the morning, they have to continue into the afternoon, or into the next day. They will, eventually, be motivated to get on with their work!

4) Remind your child about why you want them to work hard: It honours the Lord; it is more fun if you are engaged in what you are studying; it is easier to do if you focus; you will make fewer errors. 

5) Don't skip breaks. We have a short break and a snack every morning regardless of how far on they are. This can break the cycle of procrastination, and also guard against total despair! We also go for a walk for an hour at midday, every day, whatever else has been happening. The children look forward to it, it is good for them, and, again, they often work better later in the day.

6) Be wise. If you think you have set an unreasonable amount, or work which is far too hard, it is fine to stop and make changes.

7) Start afresh each day. A bad day doesn't need to be followed by a bad day; forgive one another and start again.

8) Shake up the order you do different subjects. How you do this will depend on your child. If there is a subject which a child just doesn't enjoy, it may be that getting it out of the way before breakfast helps them. Another child might be better helped by doing something which they are usually less keen on last; the thought that if they get on with it quickly they will be finished soon can be a great motivator for some children.

We found a combination of these strategies has really helped to create an environment where the children work efficiently most of the time. We hope that these habits, as well as what they learn, will help them to work in a God-honouring way as they grow up.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23

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