How to Help Your Child Finish Those Summer Assignments


If your child still has a load of summer work, you’re not alone…it’s an issue that most every parent is thinking of this time of year.  Yesterday, I spoke to Sean and Veronica on WTOP about how to help your child finish those summer assignments. I also had the opportunity to discuss the same topic on Channel 8’s Let’s Talk Live with Melanie and Kellye.

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


Completing those school-issued summer assignments should be a big priority, and here’s why.  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, it’s important that student complete the work thoroughly.

What should a parent do when the 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.  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 in alone?  Put your agreement in writing.  Remember, reluctant readers are unlikely to read independently.  It’s fine for the parent to read a page, and then have the child read a page.  Also, audio books are acceptable alternatives.  Studies show that when kids follow along as they’re listening to a book, they gain more comprehension skills than reading alone.


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 at least 45 minutes each night after dinner.  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 whole lot less nagging because it’s an expected part of the day


What if your child doesn’t work with you?

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.


Should you withhold privileges or put your child on restriction until the work’s done?

Once your child has come up with a game plan and it’s in writing, set up a system of accountability. Many parents have found that tying privileges, such as trips to the mall, movies, and other activities, to meeting deadlines works well. When the work is done, privileges are granted.  Sometimes, it takes an objective third party without an emotional history with the child to help get the work done. For many students who struggle with time management, a tutor can help to reduce procrastination and improve study habits.