Procrastination, or the delay of tasks that need to be completed, can be affected by both internal (personality, motivation and concentration and so on) and external (a distracting or disorganized environment) factors. The ability to concentrate is also highly dependent on what is going on around someone when they sit down to try work.
It is important to address all these issues if your child has difficulty focusing on or getting started with their work. While internal factors can take a lot of work to improve, optimizing the environment in which your child does their school work can have much more immediate results and is fairly easy to address. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is to ensure they have a specific homework space conducive to all of their needs.
To start with, designate an area where your child can sit and complete homework. This area should be away from household traffic, quiet and free of distractions. It should also be comfortable, well-lit and visible or easily accessible to you as a parent. Importantly, the area should be work focused, with only items that will be needed for study. Feel free to decorate the area so it is not boring. Creating this will help set up a routine in their work, associating this space with getting things done and minimizing distractions. It will also help you monitor them and provide assistance easier than if they are sent to their room to do homework.
Once you have decided on a space, make sure it is stocked with all the stationary that may be required by a child, including pencils, scissors, glue, calculators, dictionaries,paper and text books. By ensuring everything they need to finish their homework is available within arm’s reach, you will minimize the time spent trying to find things all over the house. Ensure you keep track of what is being used and restock appropriately. Make sure the desk is well organised so that objects can be easily found and accessed.
Creating opportunities for your child to organize their work can also be very useful, especially in terms of what tasks still needs to be done and what tasks have been completed. For instance,two baskets can be used, with one basket containing work that needs to be completed, and the other the work that has been completed. Due dates and important events can be organised on a calendar or check list. A pin-board with one half labelled “to do” and the other “done” can also be used. Notes with tasks that need to be done can be written down as soon as your child gets home from school and pinned up in “to do”, and then moved over to “done” as they are finished.All of these techniques make it easier for you and your child to keep track of what needs to be done, as well as allow your child to feel a sense of accomplishment as they fill their basket or board with finished work. As the work would always be visible to the child, they would be less likely to forget about it.
The last step of homework should be tidying up. Help your child keep the area organised and tidy. This is both a useful skill and will ensure their work space remains optimized for concentration.
Through allocating a designated area to do homework and ensuring it contains everything that your child will need to do their work, you will be helping introduce structure in their work routine, minimizing time wasted and distraction as well as helping them learn to stay organized and keep track of goals. For more helpful tips on improving your child’s concentration, motivation and performance, read some of our other articles such as how to Help Your Child Break Tasks Into Small Manageable Sections Or Parts.