1. Don't do the assignments yourself. It's not your homework—it's your child's.
2. Help your child to make a schedule and put it in a place where you'll see it often. Writing out assignments will get him used to the idea of keeping track of what's due and when.
3. Provide a book bag or backpack for your child to carry homework to and from school.
4. Provide homework folders in which your child can tuck his assignments for safekeeping. This will help him to stay organized.
5. Help your child manage time to complete assignments. For example, if your eighth grader has a biology report due in three weeks, discuss all the steps she needs to take to complete it on time, including:
- selecting a topic
- doing the research by looking up books and other materials on the topic and taking notes
- figuring out what questions to discuss
- drafting an outline
- writing a rough draft
- revising and completing the final draft
Also, encourage your child to make a chart that shows how much time she expects to spend on each step.
6. Help your child to get started when he has to do research reports or other big assignments.
7. Encourage him to use the library. If he isn't sure where to begin, tell him to ask the librarian for suggestions.
8. Give practice tests.
9. Help your child avoid last-minute cramming.
10. Talk with your child about how to take a test (e.g., read the instructions carefully, keep track of the time, avoid spending too much time on any one question).
11. Watch for frustration. If your child shows signs of frustration, let him take a break. Encourage him and let him see that you know he can do the work.
12. Give praise. People of all ages respond to praise. And children need encouragement from the people whose opinions they value most—their families. "Good first draft of your book report!" or "You've done a great job" can go a long way toward motivating your child to complete assignments.
Children also need to know when they haven't done their best work. Make criticism constructive, however. Instead of telling a ninth grader, "You aren't going to hand in that mess, are you?" say, "The teacher will understand your ideas better if you use your best handwriting." Then give praise when the child finishes a neat version.
My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents