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Dealing with deadline-driven students

Whether your child is a procrastinator, simply doesn’t enjoy homework, or is under the misapprehension they thrive on a deadline, setting up a scenario where homework or assignments are driven by impending deadlines is a habit that tends to stick.

It’s a stressful and ineffective way of studying that serves no-one particularly well when the clock’s steadily ticking.

So here’s a quick insight into the impact of crisis organising and last-minute study, and how to effectively alter the deadline-driven habit.

A deadline-driven world

Schooling is full of deadlines – assignments due, dates for oral presentations, exam schedules and more. These are necessary to ensure children and teens meet the academic milestones they require. And truth be told life is full of deadlines too.

Trouble starts a-brewing, however, when your child leaves all their preparation to the last possible minute, putting off tasks until they can be avoided no longer.

On the surface it can throw an entire house into chaos, eliciting huge amounts of stress, but there’s deeper impacts at work that are no less serious.

The big deal of a deadline

Leaving all preparation to the last minute elicits a feeling of stress. That stress is somewhat similar to what we feel when our life is under threat. So our brain’s go into overdrive, and procrastination only makes it worse as the brain pumps stress hormones until the body feels compelled to act.

And as Psychology Today explains: “Not only does putting off a task until its deadline create stress, researchers found it also kills brain cells, lessens creativity, and that the associated stress can have a debilitating effect on one’s health. Worse, it sets up a vicious feedback loop and keeps a person dependent on deadlines…”

Addressing the deadline-driven dilemma -What parents can do

“Don’t let your lack of organisation become my crisis”

Parental guidance plays a large role in how children and teen view and relate to deadlines, and it starts at a surprisingly early age.

Chances are if you have a deadline-driven child you may display these tendencies yourself, and whether you know it or not you’ve been sharing your habit.

This extends right through from leaving readers and sightwords to the last minute when children are in early primary school. So it’s worth noting, if you don’t pull out the books and start weekly spelling until the night before it’s due, you’re teaching your children the power of deadline stress.

But it’s also about how you facilitate their learning. If your child informs you there is an assignment due in 48 hours that they’ve known about for weeks, do you rush out to assist them sourcing all the materials available? Because if you do, you’re partaking in the deadline driven push.

Instead, this may be an opportunity for them to miss out on something they value to complete the task at hand.

Meanwhile, there are a host of ways to assist your child break a deadline-driven habit, like:

•    Breaking a task down, and setting earlier deadlines for sections

•    Encouraging your child to seize and use free time available, and rewarding them when they do.

•    Having a scheduler visible that outlines when things are due and suggestions for when task components should be completed.

•    Allowing them to miss a non-critical deadline to understand the implications. It’s their responsibility, not yours.

•    Helping them assess homework or assignment tasks at the time they are issued, and knocking items off the to-do list right that very day to encourage that feeling of completion and relaxation as a reward.

About Chalkwall

For over 25 years Chalkwall has been assisting students establish good study habits. You can learn more about our tutoring services here, or contact us for further advice.