My kids are great procrastinators because I've taught them well. Right now, I'm staring at a 43 pound suitcase filled with years of good intentions. It's filled with photos, news clippings, programs from dance recitals and awards my kids have received. I would love to have these items organized into easy to view photo albums or scanned into digital albums, but it's easier to come up with reasons why I can't do it, such as, "I don't have time", "I want this to be a family project", or my favorite, "They’re safer in the suitcase because I can grab it quickly in case of a fire."
Procrastination for virtual school students comes in many shapes and sizes. I see procrastination typically rear its ugly head during lessons that my students are working on independently. A little procrastination is something we are all guilty of every now and then. When it happens regularly, though, it presents a real challenge. Throughout this month I will be writing about different reasons I think most students procrastinate and offering my suggestions for what you can do about it.
One reason why our students procrastinate is due to weak study habits.
I can usually spot when this is the problem because it sounds like this: (in a whiny tone)
"I can't do this" , "It's too hard", "This wasn't in the lesson", "It's boring", "I don't understand it".
So what is the first line of defense for this? Watch your student study a complete lesson. Don't say anything while they are doing the lesson, unless they ask for your help. I know they may complain about you watching over their shoulder, but do it however you can. As you watch, get a sense of how long they are spending on each portion of the lesson. This may sound time-consuming, but it pays off in the long run.
Here are some things to watch for and what you can do to help:
- Spending too much/too little time on lessons - Monitor your child's progress every day. Help your student estimate how long a lesson should take and teach him or her how to pace their assignments. If your child is rushing through a lesson because they are behind, reach out to your teacher for help to create a catch up plan.
- Reading difficulties - Ask your teacher for help in overcoming reading problems. Make sure your student knows how to use and read their textbook.
- Inattentiveness - Listening in a virtual school can mean listening to a teacher present a lesson in an online classroom or while someone reads aloud, watching a video or following a Teachlet® tutorial. Encourage note taking to aid attention skills. Have your student record (with pictures or notes) key points.
- Skipping a lesson activity - Students sometimes skip important concept-building activities because they think they know the material well enough or that it's just busy work. Make sure this isn't happening by monitoring the amount of time your student spends completing the lessons and checking his or her grades . Lesson activities encourage children to be independent, self directed learners and improve retention of the concepts learned.
- Missing steps in the directions - Print or write out each step of the assignment as a checklist and encourage your student to finish each step within an established amount of time.
- Asking for help - If your child won't ask for help from their teacher, pick up the phone for them or help them compose a message asking for help. Is one assignment keeping your child from moving forward? Pick up the phone right now and call the teacher for your child! Don't wait!
- Over-reliance on the Learning Coach - Be there for your students, incrementally decreasing the time spent working side-by-side. Tell them to finish the next problem on their own after telling them how long it should take and asking them to inform you when done.
How will you know you were successful? When you hear your student say, "Finished!"
Please share other thoughts for helping to curb student procrastination due to weak study habits!