In Part 1 of this series, we wrote about how to set up the backbone of a healthy, well-managed schedule. This post has some specific tools and ideas for those of you wanting to get into the nitty gritty of schoolwork with your child. As you’ve presumably noticed by now, there is likely to be less hand-holding by the school this year than there was freshman year. As the parent of a sophomore, here are some tips and tools to help you help your child manage time effectively when the external structures from school have been partly stripped away:
- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! There’s no law that says you can’t use the same tools as last year! If your child’s school gave students a planner last year, or in middle school, and that worked for him, use the same system. If one teacher used a weekly syllabus that was particularly easy for your child to follow, encourage him to ask for that from teachers this year or make his own version. Reflect on what has worked, and keep using it.
- Remember the poster that says “plan ahead,” and the e-a-d are squished on the far right side of the page? Do that: plan ahead. Encourage your sophomore to use a planner AND a weekly calendar to plan the big picture before diving in on a specific assignment.
- The planner is where she should record the specifics: every task and assignment that is assigned and that occurs to her during the school day (from “English homework specifics to “remember to email Ms. Smith tonight”). In most cases, the simpler the planner, the better. Electronic ones are not effective if students aren’t allowed to fill them out during the school day.
- The calendar is where he outlines the big picture onto a timeline with realistic estimations of time needed to complete (estimate high – sophomores are often bad at accurately estimating time needed to complete assignments). This calendar is one that some of us at Signet use, but you can use any variation you want. Again, simple is good!
- Put the above tools together into a nightly routine: encourage your child make a “to do list” of assignments for the night each night before starting her homework. She should prioritize that list from least appealing to most appealing, crossing off assignments as she finishes them.
- A word on prioritizing tasks: students love doing the “fun” work first. Help your sophomore notice how much harder it is to do the “not fun” work later in the evening when he is exhausted. Beg him to start with the work he’d most like to avoid. If he is ambivalent about the work, encourage him to start with reading and end with something that requires more “action,” such as flashcards.
With these specific tools in place, your sophomore will have all the structures she needs to be a successful student. Her task now is to sit down and dig in!