Routine, Routine, Routine.
This is essential for teens. They’re frontal lobes are still developing. You know, the part of the brain that deals with organization, emotional regulation, and impulsiveness: the part of the brain that drives parents nuts.
Those kids that have their binders in nice neat rows and get all their homework done aren’t developmentally more advanced.
They’ve established an effective and efficient routine that works for them.
One of the most important ways you can help your teen in middle school is to help them create routines.
Here are some tips to help your teen have a successful year by creating some routines.
Have Time and Space Carved Out for Homework
One of the issues students often have is that they don’t have an afternoon routine after school with homework in it. I asked one student what she did after school every day and she said walked her dog and had a snack. Perfect! Now add in sitting in a favorite spot to do homework or starting it while eating snack and you’re getting somewhere. Then all the fun stuff like social media time, games, and reading can happen – after homework.
I certainly know once I start a task I like I end up spending more time than I anticipated because I get so absorbed. So great as the pull is to have fun first, I do require tasks and responsibilities first and look forward to fun time (ie blogging).
To Do List:
- Make it part of the afternoon/evening routine
- Homework first, then fun
Write in Their Agenda Book with Check Boxes
Teens often expect to remember their homework and then have to ask a friend because they forgot and didn’t write it in their agenda book.
Use the agenda book as a to do list. This allows for prioritization, goal setting, and motivation.
Which is the hardest and get it over with while I’m still engaged? Which am I half way done with already so I can finish it? Which one can I get done first and feel motivated to keep going?
I love crossing out items on my to do list and feeling successful.
Teens can have this wonderful feeling too: as an assignment is completed they can check it off and feel accomplished.
I’ve seen students who color code them too.
To Do List:
- Talk to your teen to help prioritize tasks
- Have them check off when a task is completed in agenda book
- Check in and celebrate successes
Limit Screen Time
Teens might need access to the internet for school work, but the computer or phone doesn’t have to be in the confines of their bedroom. Try designating a space in a public area for internet usage.
One teen gave her phone to her mom before doing her homework so she wasn’t tempted by it and this helped her.
To Do List:
- Have your teen put his/her phone in another room
- Have them give it you
- Time their computer usage
- Turn off the internet if necessary
- Have them do their homework in a public place so you can monitor electronics
Most kids want to please adults, want to do well, and want to feel successful – often times they don’t know how or how to stay on task and motivated. We need to help them and provide them with strategies.