I’m sorry. I’ve been procrastinating. I have put off telling you that March 3-9 marks National Procrastination Week 2008, and with only two days left, you almost missed it. I thought about waiting till next week to tell you about it, but…
[Wait, you say. Isn't this blog devoted to writing? Please bear with me. Today's post really does pertain to teaching writing, and it will address the procrastinators masquerading about as your children!]
National Procrastination Week. I’m sure this is the procrastinator’s equivalent to New Year’s Day. You didn’t get around to making resolutions on January 1, so now, before the year runs away with all your good intentions, you have a whole WEEK to resolve: I WILL knock the cobwebs off the ceiling. I WILL vacuum under the beds. I WILL do some lesson planning.
According to Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary:
Pro-cras-ti-nate: to put off doing (something unpleasant or burdensome) until a future time; to postpone (such actions) habitually
10 Things I’ve Been Putting Off
- Buy a birthday present for my best friend (it was January 4).
- Write some long-overdue articles.
- Start a newsletter.
- Find the surface of my desk (Translated: Sort and file).
- Clean the fridge.
- Ruthlessly tackle my old boxes in the garage.
- Write a talk for a convention workshop.
- Research digital cameras.
- Wash the windows.
- Review picture books to recommend for WriteShop Primary lessons.
Got your own list? Post a comment!
OK. I promised you there is a point to this! You see, proctastinators live at your house too. And if you don’t believe me, here’s how to lure them out of hiding: Assign a report. Give a due date of March 28–that’s in three weeks. Ask for note cards, sources, bibliography, an outline, a rough draft, a final draft. Your procrastinators will appear on March 26, right on schedule, with their own list of excuses and delays:
10 Things You Hear Two Days Before the Report Is Due
- Can you take me to the library?
- We don’t have any index cards.
- I can’t think of anything to write about.
- I couldn’t find enough information for a report. I need a new topic.
- Sarah’s hogging the computer.
- I’m too tired.
- I need help.
- You didn’t give me enough time.
- I don’t need an outline, do I?
- Can I have an extra week?
It’s in our (sin) nature to procrastinate. And you’re doing your children no favor by indulging this habit. After all, left to his own devices, what child will voluntarily clean his room, take out the trash, or write his report in stages?
When you give your kids a writing assignment that requires time, effort, and planning, follow a few simple guidelines and they’ll accomplish their task right on schedule!
How to Discourage Procrastination
- DO break up the writing project into manageable pieces. Instead of giving a distant due date for the whole composition or report, give more frequent due dates for parts of the project. For a short composition, assign brainstorming, rough draft, self-editing, second draft, parent editing, and a final draft. For a report or term paper, you’ll also want to see topic ideas, note cards, outlines, etc.
- DO schedule time for the writing project into your school days. If you fill their days with too many other activities and assignments, their writing will fall by the wayside.
- DO check their work often. It helps keep them accountable and on track. If the rough draft is due tomorrow, look it over tomorrow! If you don’t, you’re fueling (and modeling) their bad habit of putting off the task.
- DON’T let them pull all-nighters.
- DON’T allow them to write the rough draft and final draft on the same day. Their words need time to marinate. Letting a piece of writing sit for a day or two before revising allows the initial fierceness of ownership to ebb a bit, and they’re more likely (and willing) to spot and fix errors.
- DON’T accept lame excuses or give extensions. In the real world, they won’t have that luxury. Train them well now and they’ll become model college students, employees, entrepreneurs, or keepers of their homes.
You can start on Monday. This is National Procrastination Week, after all.
Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.