Tips if your students are struggling to complete assignments
Problem: My child can’t keep track of what needs to be completed for the week.
Explanation: Plan/Organization: Students relied upon looking at the board in the classroom to see what the daily assignment is and looking at the weekly calendar to see work due that week. And teachers were reminding them daily of their assignments.
- Monday night expect your child to post on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or somewhere else prominent the following information on a piece of paper:
Subject Assignments due this week
This isn’t something they may have needed to do in the past – so we recommend either verbal praise, dessert, or reward for completing this new task. Also, you may want to do this with your child the first time. Check the teachers’ emails together and create the list. Offer help figuring this out.
Problem: My child can’t remember what he/she should be doing in the moment.
Explanation: Working Memory: Students relied upon their teacher to give them the steps for each assignment, and students could look around at what the other students were doing to keep them on track.
- A Daily To-Do List created by parent and or student that the student can refer back to.
- Once your child has decided what they are going to work on in that moment: Ask the following questions: “What assignment do you want to get done right now?” “What materials do you need?” “How long do you think it will take?” “How will you know when you are finished?” By asking these questions it will help your child think about the process and remind themselves of what needs to be done.
- Have your child predict how much time it will take to complete that task and set the expectation that the child work on that one task for that amount of time and not move on to another task.
Problem: My child is constantly distracted while working and keeps wandering around or looking at his/her cell phone.
Explanation: Inhibition: Your child has relied upon the teacher to create a quiet classroom where everyone is working on the same thing and the noise level is low. Breaks are scheduled. Phones remained in the backpacks or pockets and only used during break times.
- Before your child starts working, remind them to get a drink, go to the bathroom, get all the needed materials to get the assignment done before starting.
- Expect your child to be able to work on a task for 15 minutes if elementary age. 25 minutes if middle school/high school age. Set a timer and tell the child that they cannot take a break or do something else until they have worked on that task for 15-25 minutes.
- For background noise, it is OK to allow the student to listen to music or to have the TV on in the background. However, the music or television show should not be interesting or new. If they are looking at the TV and not the work – you know it’s distracting. Also, if your child is distracted by social media/texting, make it a requirement that the cell phone is out of reach during the 15-25 minutes that they are supposed to be working on that task.
Problem: My child knows what he/she should be doing – but just doesn’t do it.
Explanation: Self-Monitor: Your child is used to the teacher wandering around the classroom monitoring that he/she is working. The student has never had to have the self-discipline of having to monitor themselves all day.
- Require that your child show you the completed task. If after 15-25 minutes you have noticed that your child has not completed the task, require them to work sitting by you for the next 15-25 minutes. Once the task is completed, let the child cross it off the to-do list and take a break or move on to something else.
Problem: My child doesn’t move on to the next activity. My child gets stuck on one activity.
Explanation: Shift: Your child is used to bells and announcements transitioning them from activities and breaks.
- Set time limits for activities or breaks. For example, “You can watch YouTube for 30 minutes, but then after that you have to do your math.” “Work on your reading assignment for 30 minutes, but then I want you to work on your mathematics for 30 minutes.” Set the microwave timer if necessary.
Problem: My child gets frustrated and upset easily on assignments.
Explanation: Emotional Control: Your child is adjusting to new routines and a new environment to learn which increases anxiety and decreases self-confidence. Also, most teachers were in the habit of providing three positive praise statements to every corrective statement given to a student. Your child is most likely missing those daily reassurances from their teachers.
- When your child gets upset, give him/her your undivided attention for a few minutes. Listen and do not offer a solution until the student has calmed. Acknowledge the feeling. Check to see if you understand why he/she is frustrated. Allow the student to offer more explanation. Then ask what you can do to help the child accomplish the task. They may not know. Then you offer some choices.
- If your child is becoming frustrated and then avoiding the task, require the child to work through the frustration and try again with your assistance. Don’t allow them to avoid the task just because they are frustrated.
- During this time, your child may need more reassurance and praise. Anxiety and low self-confidence are prevalent for many children and adults right now. Catch your child being good and praise them then. For example, when they focus on a task well or complete a chore.
Problem: My child gets started on something, but then doesn’t finish.
Explanation: Task Completion: Your child is used to someone monitoring task completion often and that there was praise or a consequence for not completing a task. Now, those teachers are only checking on task completion once a week and aren’t present to offer that praise or consequence.
- Ask your child this question: “How will you know when you have finished this assignment? Or “What does this assignment look like when it’s finished?”
- Require your child to either show you or the teacher the completed task daily.
- Offer a reward or verbal praise for completed tasks.
- Require a child to finish at least one required assignment/task before doing a pleasurable activity. For example, “You must finish one assignment or today’s assignments before you play videogames, etc.’