LATER! Put an end to procrastination

Just for Kids

March 12, 1998|By Don Babwin | Don Babwin,Chicago Tribune

Richard G. had a problem. For two months he had put off starting his science project, and now, the night before the project was due, he had to think of something.

Finally, an idea popped into his head. He grabbed some pieces of paper and got busy.

The next day, kid after kid made presentations about projects that, like the one on the growth of plants in different kinds of materials, obviously took the whole two months to complete. Then it was Richard's turn.

"I did mine on which paper airplanes flew the farthest," said Richard, recalling what he did with those pieces of paper. The result? C-.

Richard, an eighth-grader, is not alone. Talk to kids and their teachers and they will all tell you the same thing: For many kids, when it comes to homework, there is no better day to do it than tomorrow.

And there's no easier kid to spot. "You can always tell the ones who waited until the last minute," said Jessica S., another eighth-grader. "Their papers are all over the place, messy." Or, said her classmate Jennifer, "They want to copy off you."

It doesn't have to be that way. We talked to Joseph Ferrari, a psychology teacher at DePaul University who specializes in the study of procrastination. (That's a fancy word for putting work off until the last minute.) He came up with some tips to help you keep your work from piling up.

First, break down an assignment into little pieces. In other words, look at a big assignment as a bunch of smaller ones that are more manageable.

Reward yourself when you accomplish a small goal. "Tell yourself, 'If I write two paragraphs, I can talk on the phone for five minutes,' " Ferrari advised.

If you think you might cheat, bring one of your parents or a brother, sister or friend into it. Say you like to play with your Gameboy. Hand it over to somebody with instructions not to give it back unless you finish the job you promised to finish.

Procrastinators forget things, like books they need to do an assignment. Then when these kids get to school they have a ready-made excuse. If that sounds like you, put what you'll need where you won't forget it - like on top of the jacket you'll wear to school tomorrow.

Finally, look to kids who aren't procrastinators and see how they do their assignments. Instead of hating those kids, learn from them. Then you won't have to beg them to copy homework.

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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