“Ask your children about their goals and listen to what they want to do. Discuss how they could achieve their goals. Their input will give you insights on how to help them START WITH THE END IN MIND.” *

A Path to Learning and Literacy, A Note to Parents. p. 45

Working smart is learning to work toward achieving one’s goals. It is not working fast or finding short-cuts; those habits only lead to stress. If you recall in my last article, I emphasized the importance of Identifying the Task, because it is important to know what to do before figuring out how to do it. Process is designing a plan of action!

Parents can help their children identify and plan the steps needed to successfully do assignments. Your child should talk about a plan for doing a homework assignment, a plan for completing an extended project, a plan for preparing to take a test, and in today’s environment a plan for attending classes virtually. Encourage your children to talk about how they plan to do their work. It will help them organize their ideas, identify the materials needed and create ideas for following through and completing work.

Talk with your child about STARTING WITH THE END IN MIND. Ask him/her to describe what an excellent project looks like! Starting with the end in mind gives one the ability to visualize his/her completed task: an excellent rating on homework, an A+ grade on a project, and a superior test grade. It is a beginning step to setting goals. Together set a goal and ask your child to list the steps he/she thinks are needed to reach that goal. Visualize it; think about following the steps you listed to reach that goal. Your child now knows the must-do actions to get the grade wanted.

Reassure your child that he/she is capable of the hard work required and of your confidence in their ability. Explain how there are no short-cuts. It is important to plan enough time to complete the assignment/project/test prep and do the required readings. To plan for the needed time, estimate how much time should be needed to do an excellent job then add another 10%. For example, if you have an upcoming test and your estimated study time is 2 hours, add other 15 to 20 minutes to your study time to allow for clarifying information. If you don’t need it – Great! But remember it is better to plan than cram! Determine how you will spread out that time; maybe over two or three separate study sessions on different days.

Reading is an area that is too often short changed. I have two tips to greatly improve understanding of content. Preview and Summarize! Preview reading assignments by looking over the assigned reading section and notice all headings in boldface print; rephrase those headings into questions to be answered by your reading and look for all words in italics as they are key words that you need to add to your vocabulary. Now read and summarize what you have read. You should be able to answer the questions you identified in previewing the assignment, and you should know new vocabulary. Most students fail to realize how essential reading is to all learning. If you employ the above steps to all reading, you will increase you reading speed, and develop a remarkable vocabulary.

The following are a few Checklist items to help children and parents with a personal plan for completing all assignments and preparing for all tests.

  • Plan how to use your time before you begin your homework or studying for a test.

  • Preview Reading Assignments and read for information and understanding.

  • Review Work for accuracy and following instructions.

  • Check that work is complete and submitted on time. Routinely check your work and be assured that satisfaction and accomplishment will be your intrinsic rewards.

By Claire Johnson Machosky


Parent and Educator dedicated to helping all children learn to study and succeed.


*Stephen R. Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 1989.

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