Getting your child to conform to any type of schedule is challenging. They are at an age where they naturally prefer not to be regimented. Homework scheduling is even more of a fight between parents and children because of the obviously unpleasant nature of the task. With that being said, there are ways to get your child on a schedule and place them on the path to academic success.
First and foremost, make sure they know why homework is important. The easiest way to do so is to appeal to their desires. Kids have big dreams; make sure they realize that in order to accomplish them they must do well in their early studies. Placing the argument in this context relates to the individual child. If they understand that they will not achieve a successful career if they ignore their homework at this point in their life, they are more inclined to go along with a plan. If you, instead, try to make the argument that the math skills they are learning in class are important and applicable to everyday life, you are going to lose. Children just don’t think that way at a young age. They want to believe that what they learn is going to garner them concrete benefits, like a well paying job. They have to believe, for example, that they are never going to garner that college athletic scholarship unless their high school grades are top notch.
I don’t mean to sound materialistic, or make it seem that your child is incapable of learning simply for the goal of increasing their knowledge on a topic, however my experience is children are unwilling to do things unless they can rationalize some benefit out of it. Implanting into their minds the true reality that good high school grades get you into a good college, and a good college will get you a well paying job and a country club membership, will go a long way into having them consent to sticking to a detailed homework schedule.
In terms of the actual schedule, it will naturally come down to the particular student and grade level. First, make sure your child is keeping track of their assignments. They should have a planner with dates and space to right their daily assignments for each subject. If you feel your child is not writing down assignments and frequently missing them, don’t be afraid to contact the teacher and get the assignments for yourself. In an age of increased technology, it should be no problem for the teacher to send lesson plans via email so that you can follow along with your student.
At home, you should invest in a large, 90 day calendar, dry erase board. This way you can write down assignments way before they are due.
A plan to keep up with required reading is also essential here. Middle school and high school students rarely understand the importance of class reading. They assume that if they pay attention in class, do the required assignments, and study the night before any test they will be fine. In some respect, they are correct. However, in classes that are reading intensive they are dead wrong. Find out well before the next test in a class what reading will be included on the exam. Break down the pages and schedule nightly reading assignments. Put this on the 90 day calendar.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to reward your child when they adhere to the schedule. Schedule nights off for good performance or promise them something else of value. Again, appeal to their sensibilities. This may not sit well with some parents, who believe academics are something you are expected to do and therefore should not be rewarded for. But this opinion ignores reality. It will push your child more away and into a mode of defiance. Work with them, not against them, and they will be well prepared for the future.