Jackson wasn’t a bad student—he wanted to do well in school and genuinely loved learning—but his homework grades were dragging him down. On top of balancing school with his part-time job at the grocery store and marching band, he just struggled with procrastination and had a hard time keeping track of his assignments. Even when Jackson did actually sit down at his desk in his bedroom to get to work, he either got so distracted or so frustrated that he gave up. Jackson wanted 10th grade to be different. If you’re like Jackson and homework is holding you back, keep reading to learn how to solve common homework problems, from disorganization to study skills.
Establish Routines and Spaces that Work for You
Set yourself up for homework success with habits and spaces that work for you. Good habits are just routines that have been created, practiced, and refined over time until tasks become second nature. The following are four core homework routines:
- During School. Write assignments in a planner or take a photo with your phone in class, and before you go home use that information to gather the supplies you will need.
- After School. When you get home, try to do your homework at the same time every day. Work as soon as you arrive home and have a snack, rather than after a longer break, as it allows you to build off of the momentum of the school day and to have lessons fresh in your mind. It also means having the evening free to enjoy dinner, activities, and bedtime without worrying about work.
- The Night Before School. After you have finished your work, and before you settle in for your carefree night, check to make sure you completed everything assigned and that it is either submitted (online) or stored (folder, binder, backpack).
- Weekends. If it helps to stick to the same timing as the school day, you can do that, but you can also determine if there’s another time that works well for you on weekends specifically.
As you craft and hone your homework habits, write down your routines as a schedule or a checklist that you can easily access and follow. That way, you’ll stay on track.
In addition to creating homework habits, you need to create homework spaces. Designate a spot in your room or in another room of the house that is comfortable and free of distractions. Make sure that your desk is clear of mess and that your devices are off (use an app/extension to limit access to distracting websites).
Keep in mind that when it comes to your routines or spaces, there will be some trial and error. The key is to experiment to find what works for you.
Manage Your Work and Play Time
How you organize your time is just as important as establishing an effective homework routine and study space. For homework, the most essential skill is figuring out the order to complete assignments and what supplies and steps are needed to do so.
- Daily Assignments. Let’s say you have a chapter of a book to read for English, vocabulary to study for a Spanish quiz, a diagram to fill out for Science, and practice problems for Math. Estimate the time, energy, and enthusiasm you have for each assignment. Most recommend doing the hardest assignments first. So, depending on your skills and interests, you might do Math, Spanish, Science, then English.
- Long-Term Assignments. These assignments can be a paper, project, or test. Pay close attention to deadlines. When you learn of an assignment, write down the due/test date on your calendar. Next, break down the assignment into smaller, more manageable tasks and work backward on your calendar to pick dates to complete those tasks.
- Headstarts & Breaks. If you have time during school to do assignments, do them. It’ll save you time later and you might be able to get help from a teacher before you go home. Once you are working at home, reward yourself with short breaks between tasks or after about 30 minutes. Avoid going down rabbit holes such as YouTube, video games, or chatting with friends.
There are several tools that can assist your assignment planning. Magic ToDo from Goblin Tools is a fun and easy online tool that can help you break down typical tasks. For example, enter “study Spanish vocabulary,” then click the magic wand, and a list of ordered tasks will be displayed. If you do, you’ll see that the first step is to “Get study materials.” Figuring out what supplies you will need and getting them is always a good first step for any assignment. It’a also always good to keep a record of your plans so you are aware of conflicts and don’t forget to do something. Use calendars, weekly and daily planners, and checklists that can be digital, physical, or a combination of the two to stay on track.
Don’t Do it Alone
Successful homework completion is also possible with the support of parents, friends, and educators. Of the three, parents can have the most impact.
Whether their child is in kindergarten or high school, parents play a vital role because they create a foundation of good habits and discipline. Parents should invest in setting up an organized and distraction free workspace, teaching and modeling time management strategies, and providing rewards and consequences based on how well expectations are met. Parents should stay informed and get involved too; they can monitor assignments and grades online and speak to teachers and counselors if they have concerns.
Friends, classmates, and older siblings can be another source of support. Ideally, doing homework with a study buddy means having someone to bounce ideas off of and act as a role model. However, if you know working with others would just be distracting, it’s better to work alone.
When parents and friends can’t give you the help you need, you can get advice from teachers and counselors or work with a tutor.
How A+ Can Help
Don’t let homework drag you down! Homework is a chance for students to practice what they’ve learned, explore a subject in more depth, and take charge of their own learning. That doesn’t mean it is without its challenges. If you need some homework help, at A+ Test Prep and Tutoring we offer Subject Tutoring and Executive Function Coaching. Subject Tutoring provides students with academic support for a wide variety of subjects, so students not only get help with their homework, they also develop the skills necessary to become more independent and achieve more in school. Executive Function Coaching, on the other hand, brings coaches together with students to help with organization, time management, study skills, and much more.
At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, we can be reached at 215-886-9188 or email us at email@example.com.