Top Tips for Getting Your Child to Finish Summer Work


On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a segment on WTOP radio about finishing summer work! Completing those school-issued summer assignments should be a big priority, and here’s why.

Listen to the clip or read below for all the tips.


With only a few weeks left in the summer, how much of a priority should summer work be?

Schools assign tasks such as reading books and math packets to get kids ready for the coming year.  And when they return to school, much of the instruction is based on those assignments.  So, if your child hasn’t done them, he’s starting off the year behind his peers.  Furthermore, high school report card grades are lower in the first quarter of the year than the other quarters.  To start off on the right foot with grades and confidence, be sure your child gets their work done before school starts.

What should you do when your child hasn’t even thought about all the work that’s due in just a few weeks?

The first step is to set up a time to talk in a non-judgmental way, even if you’re frustrated that your child hasn’t even cracked open a book.  Sit down with your child to help him break down the work into chunks.  For example, if a book needs to be read, determine about how much he’ll need to read daily and how he will do it.  Will he read with you or alone? Remember, especially for elementary school kids, it’s fine for you to read a page, and then have your child read a page.

And consider that if your child is really behind, morning and evening reading during the next few weeks will help your child get back on track.

What if you really just can’t get your child to focus?

One thing that works well for many families is to have “quiet time” for about 30 minutes each night after dinner – at least until the start of school.  During this time, everything is unplugged – no TV, computers, or cell phones.  It’s a time that everyone in the family, no matter how busy, drops everything and reads or works quietly.  Because it’s a family routine, there’s a lot less nagging when it’s an expected part of the day.

What if your child doesn’t work with you?

To be honest, some kids aren’t too keen on their parents’ overtures to help.  That’s where study groups come in.  If your child has an assignment, such as an essay or math packet that was assigned to a number of students, encourage her to invite friends over to work on it together. And if that’s not possible, Skype or FaceTime are great options.  This “togetherness” approach not only provides accountability but helps to make learning fun.

How about rewards to motivate your child to get that summer work done? Or should you withhold privileges?

Consider tying short term privileges to meeting deadlines. When the assignment is complete, privileges are granted. For example, when your child is done with a task, they can watch TV for 30 minutes or play with their friends. But for some kids, it’s simply getting started that’s the obstacle, and they really struggle with procrastination. For those kids who need instruction with time management, consider an after school program or an Educational Coach to help with strategies for reducing procrastination.