Procrastination creates stress for students and can impact the production of quality work. Putting things off, for all of us, creates an overall feeling of things hanging over our heads and never being free from responsibility.
When students procrastinate, they can create a situation that makes it difficult to self-regulate. When a student is not well-regulated – in other words, they’re experiencing a moderate to high level of anxiety related to homework – it’s more difficult for their frontal lobe to be engaged in thinking and problem-solving.
Want to help your student stop procrastinating homework and reach their full academic potential? This article takes an objective view of homework procrastination to examine the root cause and provides some expert advice on how parents and educators can best help students.
Common Reasons for Procrastinating Homework
So, why is procrastination so common? Contrary to what many might believe, the root cause has nothing to do with students being ‘lazy’ or dismissive about their schoolwork. Rather, some of the most common reasons for homework procrastination include,
- Students may underestimate the length or complexity of a project because they have not fully developed the concept.
- When students feel overwhelmed or become aware of the significance of the project/paper/essay etc, they can ‘freeze up’, rendering them incapable of completing any work at all.
- Trying to accomplish homework with ADHD presents unique challenges for students; students with ADHD often need help further developing essential executive functioning skills.
- Some students may not be getting enough sleep and feel exhausted – both physically and mentally; an exhaustive state robs them of their natural ability to motivate.
- The home environment where students typically complete homework may have too many distractions.
The rule of thumb for parents: perspective is key for parents. Motivating students from a place of shame is a non-starter. Alternatively, parents will have more success when they objectively consider the root causes for procrastinating homework – anxiety, exhaustion, constant distractions, or living with ADHD – and look for ways to help alleviate these common factors.
Homework Tips for Parents: A Word On Motivation
First, motivating students is a misnomer. Students may want to do well, but really do not know how to do well. Others may procrastinate because they’re afraid to fail or not be perfect.
Try following these steps to help your student,
- Begin by asking your student if they are open to help. While students may say no, parents have the ability to respond by saying they respect their position but would kindly ask them to reconsider. In other words, forcing students to comply simply compounds the stress and frustration the student is experiencing.
- Recognize that your student may be more emotional with you than with a tutor. It’s not personal – by keeping your emotions in check, you provide a great example of self-regulation for your student to model. If you need to step away to get a break, do so.
- Model, model, model! Get involved by reading the assignment out loud with your student, and create a schedule of how to do a little each day so the student learns how to complete a little at a time
- Perhaps the most important thing to do: empathize! Kids, just like us, want to be understood and supported. Even as adults, having to do what you don’t like to do stinks – we call it ‘adulting’. Want to shorten the proverbial gap between you and your student? Provide some real-life examples of how you have to do things you don’t like as an adult and acknowledge their feelings. You will become instantly relatable.
Additional Homework Tips for Students
- Start with something easy to help you get going – we call this behavioral momentum. Format your paper, write your name at the top of the assignment, and answer the question you feel most comfortable with – just get the ball rolling.
- After you establish behavioral momentum, tackle something more challenging – but set a timer (around 30 minutes) so you don’t feel like it will take all night.
- Some research shows that individuals are more likely to perform better on an assessment when part of a group. If you have the time and opportunity, join a study group of people who are all working like you.
- Create a work/break schedule and definitely put distractions in another room (phone! Or games/Youtube or other streaming videos).
Creating an Efficient Homework Schedule
Okay, parents – you likely already know how important structure and routine can be for your kids. In helping your student learn how to stop procrastinating homework, creating a schedule can give them a greater sense of autonomy while helping them manage expectations.
In a de-escalated environment, (when things are chill) ask your student to create a homework schedule that he/she would like to implement. After they present it to you, you’ll have an opportunity to give feedback and set up a trial period.
The proposal itself is a plan; the student is evaluating their resources (time) and responsibilities (tasks) and formulating a plan. Ask your student how they want to be held accountable and let them know you want to discuss it with them at the end of the week to evaluate their progress.
With this approach, parents demonstrate trust in their students and give them an opportunity to practice being self-direct. The key word here is practice – so, don’t expect it to be perfect! Over time and with further practice, they will develop these skills.
Academic Coaching with Effective Students
Fortunately, for parents and students who feel overwhelmed by homework or are frustrated trying to help their kids, there is help in the form of academic coaching from Effective Students. Our academic coaching services empower students who may be struggling to manage materials or assignments, apply what they’re learning, transition into a new academic environment (high school to college, for example), and procrastinate homework due to heightened feelings of anxiety, fear, and exhaustion.
Learn how to help your child meet and exceed their academic goals – contact us today!