Learning How to Budget Time When Completing Assignments

One of the most common challenges for children is learning how to budget their time when completing homework assignments.  Some children take forever to complete homework, taking the time to strive for perfection, while others can produce a somewhat careless and sloppy document in no time flat. How can we encourage students to work at an appropriate pace without sacrificing the quality and accuracy of their assignments?

Learning how to budget time and using proper pacing when completing tasks is a lifelong study skill that takes a great deal of time and effort to develop. The development of this skill will not only assist your child with homework completion, but with test taking, classwork and completing long term assignments as well. Therefore, it is most definitely a skill worth emphasizing.

Read on to discover a few helpful hints on how you can make your child more aware of her pacing, and learn how to effectively budget her time.

Watch the Clock: If necessary, start by setting time limits for homework completion. In general, set shorter time limits for children who have a tendency to dawdle when completing homework assignments, and longer time limits for those who seem to speed through their work. You may wish to check with your child's teacher to get an idea of approximately how much time various assignments should take to complete. Let the teacher know ahead of time that you would like to work with your child on her pacing. If an assignment should take only twenty minutes to complete, try to keep your child within those limits. Let your child know the estimated time needed to complete the assignment, and have a conscious reminder for her, such as a clock or timer, to keep her on track. If despite your reminders she has been working on the assignment for an hour, it is time to stop her and evaluate where she might need some extra guidance. You can provide your child's teacher with valuable information by simply writing down at the top of the homework page the actual time the assignment was started, along with the time it was finally completed. Teachers can review the assignment for accuracy in order to determine whether the problem stems from comprehension or pacing difficulties. Feel free to provide the teacher with any observations you have made about your child's homework habits. The problem can be as simple as eliminating distractions from her work environment, or completing homework during a different time of day. For more information about setting up proper work environments and assisting children with homework see Homework Strategies That Work and Helping Children With Their Homework.

Set Time Goals: When providing estimated time frames for an assignment, you may wish to include a realistic halfway mark or target completion time for your child. Start by letting your child know approximately how long it should take to complete her assignment. For example, if an assignment will take about a half hour and she begins at 7:00 p.m., let her know that by 7:30 p.m. her work should basically be done. Then set up some halfway mark, around 7:15 p.m. to check in with her to see how she's doing. Halfway marks are very helpful for students and parents to assess pacing. This skill is particularly helpful when all of the problems are of the same type (i.e., multiple choice or math drills). When completing such assignments, divide the total number of problems in the assignment in half in order to set a halfway mark. For example, if there are 50 problems, the halfway mark is problem #25. Once again, if the assignment will take about a half hour and she begins at 7:00 p.m., your child should be around problem #25 at 7:15 p.m. (the halfway mark.) If she has already completed the assignment by the halfway mark, have her go back and check her work for accuracy since she may have worked too quickly. On the other hand, if she is only on problem #10 by the halfway mark, she should begin to work a little faster.

Maintain Quality: One of the hardest parts of developing pacing skills for children is maintaining the overall accuracy and quality of their work. Sometimes in their enthusiasm to finish assignments or tests on time, children rush through their work only to make careless mistakes and omit information. It is therefore important to strike a balance between budgeting time properly and completing assignments with care. Students should not feel unduly pressured to meet halfway marks down to the minute or become so overwhelmed by time constraints that they are unable to concentrate on their work. Remember that learning proper pacing takes a lot of time, effort and practice. It is usually mastered over a period of time so it is best to keep your child as relaxed as possible and encourage them to simply try their best.

Ask For Assistance: Teachers can provide you with additional strategies for helping your child budget her time and use proper pacing. Teachers suggestions are usually tailored to fit the individual needs of each child, so they can be extrememly useful and relevant. Don't be afraid to ask for assistance with this challenging academic skill. As a parent, you can assist the teacher by asking for estimates of how long homework assignments should take, providing the information you have gathered (start times, halfway marks and completion times), and relaying any pacing difficulties you have noticed. Your parental observations and efforts can be a tremendous help in the assessment and correction of pacing problems.

By working together with your child and your child's teacher you can take the first step toward helping your child achieve more effective and efficient assignment completion. It will definitely be worth the effort!

For additional information, see Homework Help! at www.littleones.com.


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