The importance of effectively tracking assignments cannot be overstated! Some students get that on their own, but many need to be explicitly taught and held accountable until it’s a habit. Here, one of our tutors shares her experience with a high school student.
I once worked with a student who had over 200 missing assignments in a single school year. Yes, you read that correctly: 200! When Josh’s* parents called Nurturing Wisdom for help, they were in panic mode (understandably). His mom was at a loss as to how to help her son get his schoolwork done. She really cared and wanted him to do better. They’d tried many different things: reasoning with him, rewarding him, arguing with him. Nothing resulted in completed work. They realized that they needed an outside person, someone unemotional who could determine the underlying causes of Josh’s missing assignments and find practical solutions.
That’s when I entered the picture! When I came into our first session, it was clear that Josh’s academic work was in disaster mode. Not surprisingly, his grades were slipping, and he’d gotten to the point where he didn’t care about school or doing better. I started with some diagnostics to get to the root of the problem.
After some digging, I discovered that Josh was very good at memorizing. He could memorize lectures, conversations, and readings with ease. In the past, he was able to use his memory to do pretty well on his assignments, quizzes, and tests without much studying. Furthermore, he was able to use his better-than-average memory to track his assignments.
We found that keeping track of his assignments in his head was not working now that he was in high school. There were many more tasks to keep track of. Josh was forgetting what he had to do, what books to bring home, and what to turn in. He just couldn’t keep it all in his memory. So, I determined that we first needed to find some way to keep track of his assignments other than in his head.
This was not an easy sell for Josh in the beginning. He was pretty fond of his method and was resistant to having to write down his assignments for every class. Nevertheless, we talked about a few reasons that an assignment tracker would help him:
Once Josh was more on board, we discussed what type of assignment tracker he would use. There were so many options: a traditional assignment notebook, a daily assignment tracking sheet, an online tracker, and more. After discussing each option, we determined it would be best for him to use a traditional assignment notebook so that he could write everything down all in one place. His mom even took him to Staples so that he could pick out the notebook he wanted (choice is essential!).
We were off to a good start with setting up our assignment tracker, but it wasn’t smooth sailing from there. It took a lot of persistence and practice to get Josh in the habit of using his assignment notebook regularly. We had to talk about it each week, look through what he’d done, and set goals for how he could use his assignment notebook better next week. About midway through the semester, it was clear the assignment notebook was helping—a lot! His grades were improving and he was overall much more confident about school. In the end, even Josh was finally convinced that he needed to use it regularly.
Having a method for tracking assignments is just one important executive functioning skill that students need to develop in order to do well in school. Does your child need help building EF skills? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!
not his real name