In November my older son was cranking out some chemistry homework. He was not happy about doing it. He had left it to the last minute and he wished he was doing something else.
In the next breath he said he realized that deadlines are good because without them he would not do the work. I nearly fell over. I can't tell you how happy I was to realize he made that discovery himself.
My son also said he likes leaving things to the last minute. He likes the rush of fear that he may not get the work done on time. He says it helps him buckle down and do what he has to do, even if he really doesn't want to do it. Who am I to fault him for that? I was the same way in school. I am still a procrastinator about many things today. I am more productive for assignments that I'm held accountable for than for work that I choose to do yet am only under my own guidance to do and then to actually complete.
I told my son that studying is something that is not always best to leave to the last minute, since cramming does not always yield the same quality of actual learning if the goal is to actually learn not just to score decently on the test. As for the rest, I don't care if he leaves it to the last minute but that sometimes it is less stressful to get it done earlier, such as when the night before it's due and you are sick, or something comes up that uses your time that evening (both things have happened recently).
This is yet another reason why radical unschooling does not work for my son. Left to his own devices he would fool around on Facebook all day, play videogames and make new playlists for his iPod. Similarly, on days when there is no sports practice he chooses to not exercise on his own even though the coach recommended that everyone continue exercising during Christmas break. Whatever! I kept my mouth shut about the lack of consistent exercise. My son says he is motivated by group participation and appointments rather than an internal drive, even if it gets him closer to his goal of being a good rower.
I am glad that my son has realized two things about himself: he does more academic work for outside teachers with hard deadlines and assignments and that he prefers to do things with a group than individually.
And that is another reason why I am so tempted to just put him in school and be done with homeschooling, because I am tired of being the taskmaster and he is not internally running his own home eduation, and if he performs better for outside teachers and if he likes the peer pressure of the group better than isolated learning at home then, maybe school is the right place for him. (For the record he asks to continue homeschooling for the rest of this academic year.)