“Mom, I can’t eat breakfast, my Math homework isn’t done!”

This is a common scenario in many homes most mornings of the week. Our kids are trying their best—and, often, just can’t figure it out on their own. As parents, you want to help, but you’re also trying to let them figure it out on their own.

If this is you, YOU’RE IN LUCK!  There are simple steps you and your teen can take together so that you can foster their independence knowing they have the foundation for success.  Here are three questions to consider before we launch into the tips that are sure to change your days:

  • Is your teen or pre-teen doing homework in their closed-off room?
  • Is your teen or pre-teen keeping their device next to them while they do homework?
  • Is your teen or pre-teen sleeping with their devices in their room?

If you answered yes to any of these, there are a few small changes your family can make to optimize work time and minimize distraction. Read on to discover how to maximize attention span and make your home a happy and productive place.

Follow these 3 evidence-based tips to help your teen take ownership of their organization and management:

  • Set up an organized, dedicated HW place and a set time in your home for completing work or independent reading if there is no work. This sets a habit-an evidence based practice that helps kids set themselves up for success. 
    • Pro Tip: for younger teens, or preteens, this should be in a more “common space” in your home like the dining room or kitchen table or an office space accessible to you. This way you can give them more guidance and supervision and help them stay on track as they learn these habits.
    • Pro Tip: for older teens, they might have a desk or table in their bedroom, but help them set up a system to limit device use during HW time or to have intermittent “brain breaks” where they can spend 2 minutes on their device during a break. Research shows that having a device with active notifications coming in will make it impossible for teens (and adults!) to stay on task.
  • Have a family calendar where you keep all commitments that might affect or limit the time kids have to complete assignments: family gatherings, sports or extracurricular activities, even weekend commitments, and friend get-togethers.
  • Have a weekly family meeting where every (age-appropriate) family member adds things to their own planner or calendar and strategizes how and when they will complete the work they need to that week. This gives kids a chance to think out loud about short- and long-term assignments and how they might need to break down the work according to deadlines and other time commitments. Click here for more information.

As your kids get older, they will be busier and busier and their lives will begin to mimic those of adults—a lot to juggle and get done and fewer people who will accept the excuse, “I didn’t have time.”

Giving your children the gift of organization and time management modeled at home is an invaluable asset—one they will carry well into college/work years and beyond.  These 3 tips will help them help themselves!