When children move into middle school and high school, it becomes more important than ever to manage their time effectively. With multiple subjects and teachers, it can become burdensome to keep track of everything and many children struggle at homework time with where to begin. While a solid time management system is critical, to keep homework time moving along, your child needs to master the art of prioritization. This helps you save time by identifying tasks that deserve immediate attention, those that are important but less pressing, and those that can be considered “long-term” to-dos.
How can you help your child become an expert at prioritizing and getting things accomplished more quickly? Here are several tips:
Keep a running master to-do list. Each night, your child should review his or her list of tasks for all classes, separated by subject. This list should contain any to-dos for this week, next week or further out, including nightly homework and upcoming tests, quizzes and projects.
Put due dates next to each task. Make sure your child keeps tabs on what homework is due the following day and what is not due until later in the week or the following week. Every item on the master to-do list should have a due date next to it.
Designate levels of importance. Before diving into homework, your child should rank all tasks. You might encourage him or her to use A, B and C levels of importance. For example, on Monday, a math test, a vocabulary assignment due, and chapter to read by Tuesday would be “A” priorities, whereas assignments due Wednesday would be considered “B” priorities, and anything due Thursday, Friday, or the following week “C” priorities.
Divide up the “A” priorities. Once your child has the “A” list in front of him or her, it’s time to quickly decide in what order things need to be completed. A good rule of thumb is to focus on the most difficult tasks earlier in the evening, but each child is different. If your child prefers to check off easier tasks before digging into the more challenging or time-consuming ones, that’s fine as well. When it comes to “B” priorities, your child should include the top one or two in his or her nightly homework list. A test on Friday, for example, deserves some study time on Tuesday and Wednesday and should be bumped up to an “A” priority on Thursday night.
Embrace the student planner. Prioritizing is meant to help your child use his or her time wisely. It’s an exercise best tackled with a calendar or planner on hand, because most children have more than just school on their plates. For example, if your child has a heavy night of extracurricular activities on Tuesday, he or she should account for that in his list of Monday night homework priorities. Make sure your child blocks out time for activities in the calendar so he or she has an accurate picture of how much time is available for homework and studying each evening.
When your child masters the art of prioritization, you will discover that homework time is smoother and offers fewer opportunities to get sidetracked or stalled on less important tasks. Teach your child to embrace this consistent approach to getting started on homework each night and you will notice him or her taking ownership, staying on top of the multitude of demands that school has, and feeling less stressed overall.
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