Teach and Expect Responsible Study Habits 

If you tell your student to write a report and submit it to you in three weeks, when will she typically start working on it? That's right—a day or two before it's due!

Your teen needs to learn the value of consistency and routine. Set her up for success by teaching responsible study habits. Make it clear that her all-nighters or similar day-before heroics don't impress you. As adults, we know what it's like to work under pressure, and though many of us claim to function better that way, in reality it's very stressful and counterproductive. Our families bear the brunt of our short tempers and long hours—even when the end result is worthwhile. Instead, tell your child that you expect her to schedule her work in advance and tackle it with her full attention.

Start by breaking longer assignments into chunks and establishing mini due dates. If the assignment is a research paper, for example, set deadlines for topic selection, thesis statement, note-taking, and so on. Put these on the master calendar. Now she can manage her time not only with this project, but also with everything else vying for her attention. If, during a single time period, she's working on her paper, performing at the community playhouse, going to winter camp, and taking a biology final, she needs to plan well—and early—so that she doesn't end up with the proverbial freeway pileup when everything is due at once.

What is the most consistent difference between the college student who is snowed under and the one who is calm, happy, and academically successful? It's the successful student's ability to use organization and study techniques to simplify her life, whereas the stressed-out student flies by the seat of her pants—hoping to live through the semester, one anxious assignment at a time. Building an early—and strong—association between good habits and schoolwork will pay off in the long run.


Kim Kautzer loves to help parents feel more confident about teaching writing. WriteShop®, her unique and successful writing program, has been honored as one of Cathy Duffy's "100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum." The Kautzers, who live in southern California, began homeschooling in 1988 and have graduated all three of their children. Kim blogs about writing at www.writeshop.com/blog.

Copyright 2009. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Fall 2009. Used with permission. Visit them at www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com. For all your homeschool curriculum needs visit the Schoolhouse Store. Subscribe now to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for only $7.95!-U.S. only- Use code SUB795 at checkout. Good until January 2010. Get 4 issues for almost the price of 1.