Face it, nothing is as frustrating as a high school teenager who struggles to concentrate and complete their homeschool assignments.
Good books and music distract your teenager and you feel like a failure. You’re desperate to help your homeschooled teen concentrate but you’re just not sure how.
Break the Assignment Down
One of my teenagers diligently wrote his assignments down every week. He listed all 5 math assignments, the entire set of history and literature readings, and the science chapter. Everything in a neat line on Monday morning.
Each week he’d sit down to work, see the enormous list of assignments, and panic.
It’s a common mistake. So the first thing to check if your teen is struggling to plan and complete assignments is how large the assignments are. Teenagers need assignments broken down into small parts. 10 or 20 pages of reading are doable. 100 pages are not.
They skip breaking assignments into small parts because it takes time, and teens have better things to do than to spend time breaking down assignments. There are games to be played, friends to call, and bikes to ride.
So walk your teenager through scheduling their week. Explain why assignments need to be broken down into small bits and pieces. And follow through the ensure assignments are doable.
Remember that you eat an elephant one bite at a time!
If you’re dealing with too many assignments and a limited school day, use a loop schedule. Essentially you list all your teenager’s subjects in a list. The list may look something like this:
So the first day of school your teenager sits down and begins working down the list with writing. Once the day’s writing assignment is complete, your teen moves on to literature, then math, and then science.
The goal is to keep working down the subjects until the school day ends. Your teen may be working from 9 to 3 with a break for lunch. So at 3 pm, your teenager stops working. Perhaps he’s in the middle of history or she’s just about to start Latin. It doesn’t matter.
The second day your teenager begins at the stopping point. He jumps right back into the middle of history, or she pulls out her Latin. Now your teenager keeps working through the list.
When the art assignment is finished, jump back to the top and begin the next writing assignment!
The loop schedule prevents you and your teen from putting all your time into writing and math while Latin and art are constantly skipped.
The Pomodoro method is simple and works. I use the method myself to write. It’s especially helpful when I’m having trouble sitting down and getting my work done!
You know those days when you check Facebook, glance at the post, read your email again, glance at the post, before double-checking that dinner is cooking. Some days it’s hard to write. And some days it’s hard for teens to study.
The system is simple. You set a buzzer for 25 minutes and the goal is to work until the buzzer goes off. Then you get a 5-minute break before sitting down for another 25 minutes.
After 4 work periods, you take a longer break of 20 or 30 minutes.
It’s easy to adapt to high school teenagers. Just give your teenager a buzzer, explain the rules, and let them go.
Sit Down with Your Teenager
Adults struggle to get their work done at home! It’s almost a standing joke that when you work at home, you end up wandering the house instead.
It’s hard to work by yourself.
If adults struggle with it, why do we expect our teenagers to master the technique when they’re only just moving from childhood to adulthood? Seriously we do. We expect our teens to come to us every day with completed work in a timely manner.
But teens still struggle to concentrate and get their work done. And sometimes all that’s needed is a bit of company.
Sitting down next to your teenager and working together is an excellent way to help your teen stay focused.
You can create menu plans, write lesson plans, and pay bills while your child reads their history, finishes math, and studies Latin.
You may find sitting down together not only helps your teenager concentrate but also helps you complete your work! Then both of you can enjoy your free time together.
Set Times for School
Nothing is worse than a school day that never ends! If you’re finding your teenager is working all day on school and never finishing their work, try assigning set hours for school.
It’s counter-intuitive, but I’ve found my own teens respond well to the shorter school day. They love knowing if they work hard they can have long stretches of time for themselves.
There is an end to the schoolwork.
My teens wander down to the library. Drop by the store for a chocolate bar. Or enjoy time just hanging out with friends.
The secret is to stop school when the time is up. You want to solidify the idea that school has a set time. Anything undone is left for tomorrow. This trick works well with the loop schedule.
Sometimes set times for school is just the ticket you need for a successful school day!
Check Assignments Diligently
It’s tempting, now that kids are in high school, to stop checking work on a daily basis. But high school teens are still learning how to complete their assignments in a timely manner.
You must help your teenagers concentrate and finish their assignments.
This means you need a time every day, perhaps at your set ending time, to sit down and check the assignments. What was finished? What was not? Has the work been corrected?
As you help your teenager concentrate, keep in mind your kids are not the enemy. Most kids want to be educated, find a career in their passion, and enjoy a fulfilling high school.
Kids just don’t always know how to focus to get things done. We have to teach them.