Are you wondering how to help your child overcome procrastination? We asked our teachers for their 10 top tips and compiled this list just for our lovely MWNS parents.
So, let’s talk procrastination
Although we may view procrastination as purely the domain of students, let’s be honest – we’ve all been guilty of it, haven’t we?
No doubt, we’re familiar with delaying dreaded chores to watch one more episode on Netflix or refusing to get up to use the bathroom on a cold winter’s night, we’ve all been there!
In saying that, there is a world of difference between delaying something which is not aligned with our goals and delaying working on something which really matters.
When our children procrastinate working on an English assessment worth 25% of their grade, it is time to take action!
Although they can’t overcome it alone, you can make a big difference by helping them to form and maintain good study habits.
Let’s break this down:
1. Make them aware that they are procrastinating
There are two types of procrastination, the first is completely independent of work, such as scrolling on Instagram or TikTok. The second is sneakier because students often don’t realise they are procrastinating.
This form of procrastination is when students prioritise all their other subjects, regardless of due dates. By putting the subjects they excel in first, they don’t give inadequate attention to their challenging subjects and even leave them to the last minute.
For example, if they don’t particularly enjoy Maths, your child may avoid studying for an exam until it’s the night before. Of course, they then end up overwhelmed! It is important that time is allocated to work on Maths and English, regardless of how tricky the material is or how motivated they are to work on it.
Some students book a few Micro Group tutoring sessions a week to motivate them to work on Maths during these hours and the extra assistance on a weekly basis eliminates the threat of avoiding work or leaving it to the last minute.
2. Schedule study time & free time
One thing we have found helpful in overcoming procrastination is planning out time carefully. This means working with your child to create a study schedule which you both believe to be reasonable and fair. For example:
Monday – afternoon schedule:
- 4-6pm Dance Class
- 6-6:30pm Dinner
- 6:30-8pm Study
- 8-9pm Free Time
- 9pm Bedtime
And perhaps before exams, free time is reduced to half an hour to account for the extra revision that is required.
3. Enlist tried & tested time management methods
The Pomodoro Technique, coupled with a to-do list, are effective methods to break down big assignments or assessments into manageable tasks. Students are not always familiar with these methods. So it’s our responsibility as parents and teachers to share these tricks with our young people. These methods will allow students to manage their time, prioritise according to deadlines, and beat any procrastination tendencies.
For anyone wondering, the pomodoro technique encourages you to split your time up in 25 minute chunks, where you work on just one task until the timer runs out.
Not only should it help students with procrastination, it also helps adults. Benefits include staying mentally fresh by taking frequent breaks and feeling more productive.
“Procrastination is a fancy schmancy word for fear and/or laziness. Get brave. Get energised. Get going”. ~ Karen Salmansohn.
4. Now or later, but it will take time
It is important that we remind our kids that getting an early start on their English essay or Maths assignment will allow them to complete it more efficiently and to a higher standard than if they wait until the night before and have to work through the night.
They have probably already realised that their quality of work reflects their level of stress. So, if they are very stressed and under an intense time restraint – such as an exam – they may be disappointed in their marks. However, when they have an ample amount of time and are relaxed, they produce a much higher quality of work.
A lower quality assignment or a poor exam result may result in a teacher asking them to resubmit work or stay back to review concepts. It will definitely make revision for the next exam much harder, given they won’t be able to recall the content they were meant to have mastered for the previous exam.
It is important that we explain that extra time now is worth it in the long run, we promise!
5. Use bribery, if necessary
Beating procrastination becomes more crucial as children progress through their education. As teachers and yourself provide more independence, students have to be more rigorous in managing their time.
This might be challenging, especially when students are being asked to pick between TikTok and their assignments!
This is why we recommend breaks and rewards as bribery.
As parents, you are the most qualified to know what will incentivise your kids. We encourage you to ask yourself, ‘what rewards would be most meaningful to my child in their pursuit to conquer procrastination’?
Some ways to reward your kids:
- Hanging out with their friends
- A break to bake a cake, muffins or sweets
- Watching an episode of their favourite show on Netflix at the end of the day
- Playing a game with the family
- A break on social media
- Going for a swim
- Having a delicious treat!
These will likely be tasks or breaks that your child already does and enjoys. By suggesting them as a possibility after a study block has been completed, they can be extremely motivating.
6. Allocate specific time for study
Does your child enjoy waking up early? If so, talk to them about getting up earlier before school so that they can accomplish more in their most productive time of day.
Most students probably struggle to wake up for school, this is a result of their natural circadium rhythms. As such, maybe they thrive later in the day?
If they prefer working later at night, make sure to book their tutoring lesson at 6pm or 7pm rather than at 4pm for heightened concentration.
Remember that productivity provides the best results!
7. Keep their eye on the prize with SMART goals
Help your child become a master of goal setting. When they have written them down, place them somewhere visible so they can be reminded of them regularly.
Study, homework and school can sometimes become challenging and overwhelming, so being able to see and ‘keep their eyes on the prize’, these goals and remind themselves of what they are working towards can be just the push they need to get through.
We recommend setting S.M.A.R.T goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
You should help your child start by setting smaller goals such as “I want to complete the entire algebra worksheet before my next Maths tutoring lesson”.
We can see this goal satisfies the SMART requirements. It also sets your child up for success in the short term. They can also develop some medium goals after achieving a few of these SMART goals. These medium-term goals are something you want to build up to as they are harder and therefore may take a term or more to achieve.
8. Fight the perfectionism streak
Often students procrastinate because:
- they don’t know where to start
- they aren’t sure how to express something perfectly in an essay
- they don’t understand the task very well.
The trick here is to help them acknowledge the barrier and encourage them to just have a go!
You can suggest that this first attempt is a ‘rough draft’ which no one will see. This will often remove the pressure to write the perfect response straight away, kicking that procrastination to the curb!
Help your child decide if they are the type of person who needs to complete their research beforehand or if they work better to research as they go.
Knowing which applies to them and embracing some of their own idiosyncrasies can help them start assessments sooner.
A tutor or yourself can help kickstart this process by engaging in the research process with your child and showing a vested interested in the assignment topic.
This can help them feel as though they are on the right track because they can check in throughout with someone else.
10. Remember that it’s normal!
Procrastination is completely normal and we all do it from time to time. We want to encourage our children to be kind to themselves and not beat themselves up for procrastination.
We want to help them overcome procrastination so it doesn’t severely impact their education and results. However, this may take some time. As parents and tutors, we want to help students prioritise their tasks and plan out their study routine accordingly.
A final note:
We need to remember there is a careful balance between giving students autonomy and independence, and remembering that year 7 students are only 12/13 year’s old. Even as they approach the senior years of high school, these kids are 16/17 years old, not adults!
It’s our responsibility to provide them with guidelines, expectations, routine, suggestions and support to help them enjoy and thrive throughout high school.
Try out some of the top tips we list here and see if you can help your child beat procrastination once and for all. Good luck!
Do you think your child would benefit from some extra assistance in Maths or English?
Reach out to find out how we can help –
At MWNS, we offer high school tutoring in Maths and English to ensure students understand their schoolwork, meeting the requirements set out by NESA and achieving grades they are proud of. All our Maths and English tutors tailor their lessons to the individual needs of our students. By working at a pace that suits and benefits each child, we are able to maximise their learning in an enjoyable environment.
Our Maths and English tutoring is available in centre (Central Coast Tutoring, Eastern Suburbs Tutoring, Inner West Tutoring, Northern Beaches Tutoring, South Sydney Tutoring, Sutherland Shire Tutoring) and online. Whether you are looking for a Maths tutor or an English tutor, MWNS is able to help build your child’s confidence.