So I’ve made a start — how do I finish?

In our coaching sessions with our students, we talk a lot about getting started. For good reason! For many students, starting is the hardest part. Whether due to perfectionism, overwhelm, or old fashioned procrastination, the apparently simple act of sitting down to begin a piece of work can involve overcoming a minefield of obstacles for students.

As important as starting is, it’s also a mistake to think that the challenges are over once a start has been made. The skills involved in starting something are not the same skills needed to finish it.

Whether it’s the finish of an assignment, the finish of an exam, or the finish of the term, we want our students to not only be good starters but good finishers as well.

So let’s talk about how to finish things. So I’ve made a start — how do I finish?

Finishing homeworkOrganising Students - girl at a desk

The number one aspect of “finishing” homework which students forget is actually submitting the work. The key here is to think of submission as part of the homework process — even if the work itself is complete, the homework is not really done until it’s been uploaded to the submission portal or handed in to the teacher in class. Students might consider strategies such as packing the homework in their bags the night before or setting themselves reminders to upload the homework.

Finishing an assignment

Plan time to finish and submit – Students need to be factoring in time before the due date to check the rubric, check their work and ask for any final help from the teacher. If students don’t allocate time to do those things, they simply will not be able to do them. This can be a big problem if, for instance, a student realises there is a key part of the rubric he or she hasn’t met or doesn’t understand — the student will need time to meet with a teacher or get a reply to an email. This cannot happen if the problem is only found the night the assignment is due!

Learn to proofread and edit – Checking your own work is one of those skills for the whole of life, not just school! If students are organised enough to ask a parent or friend to check their work, this is a good thing. But it is important that they first check for themselves. Reading their work aloud (or using voice-to-text technology) can be a helpful exercise for the student who struggles to notice the details.

Finishing a test or examOrganising Students - image of students sitting exams

Before handing in a test paper, students should ask themselves these two questions.

Have I missed anything?’ This means turning over every page in the test paper to check that they have attempted all the questions. The last thing we want is for questions to be missed by accident — it does happen!

‘Can I improve anything?’ Once all questions have been attempted, students can turn their minds to the quality of their answers. A crucial check for many students is that they have properly understood what the question is asking for and addressed it in their answer.

Finishing the school term

The finish of a term is usually the most challenging part — this is the time when they are most likely to have a lot of assessments, and most likely to be tired. Here are two ways students can approach the end of a term:

Organising Students - task list - image of a whiteboard with tasks on it - so-ive-made-a-start-how-do-i-finishFrame it in terms of tasks – Breaking down and approaching the days ahead in terms of tasks or activities rather than time makes what they have to get through more concrete. This is especially helpful for the busy-but-disorganised student. It can be as simple as a whiteboard list of upcoming assessment to cross off, or daily lists that answer the question, ‘what can I get done today?’.

Frame it in terms of habits – If a student is tempted to pack it in — or has more to do than they can manage and is struggling with overwhelm — it can be helpful to switch the point of view from tasks to habits. For these students, what is one study strategy or good habit they can put in place which will give them a sense of finishing the term having taken a positive step forward?

Finishing well takes stamina and perseverance, but a job done — and especially a job well done — is a rewarding experience. So our last piece of advice is: make sure to recognise and celebrate it!

Does one or more of these challenges with finishing apply to your student?

Get in touch today to find out how our coaches can assist your child with task-initiation and other important study and life skills.