As someone who’s recently gone back to school, i initially found myself struggling. Not with the content or the workload, but rather, because i’d forgotten how to study. It’s not all that surprising really, considering how long it’s been, but it did mean that i had to re-educate myself on the best ways to go about doing my homework, planning my assignments and studying for tests and exams.
Good thing too, because it made me realise that just checking my daughter’s homework is not enough. Helping my child develop a homework and study routine that teaches her to balance her time and energy on the right activities at the right time, in an organized, responsible manner can have a drastic affect on her schooling career, and that can, in turn, have a drastic affect on her happiness and wellbeing. Not only will she feel better about her grades, and less stressed out in the run-up to exams, she’ll also be better equipped to choose the right field of study for university, and have the skills needed to flourish in her chosen career.
There are many little ways to help a child develop a healthy, successful attitude to their studies, and everyone is going to have a couple of their own little tricks too, but there are a few ‘biggies’ that you need to tackle head on. Some of these practices may take a while to get used to, and may require adjustments by other members of the family, but will make your child’s ‘study life’ so much simpler in the long run.
Create a designated homework or study area – Decide on a space that works for you and your child, and then set that area up properly. You may find that a desk in your child’s bedroom works well for your family, or you may prefer to have them work at the kitchen or dining room table. Whichever option you go for, be sure to eliminate as much distraction as possible. (Turn off the television and try to keep the boisterous toddler busy in another part of the house, but, if your child wants to turn up the tunes – surprisingly, some specialist now say that’s fine. They’ve found that ‘youngsters’ actually tend to function quite well with music blaring. My daughter’s into K-Pop, and studies listening to that, but we’ve agreed on headphones! 🙂 ) Another great addition to any study area is a notice board. For school kids, a cork board is best, because they can pin up any important notices or notes, and can display a calendar in clear view.
Get hold of a large calendar – (The calendar should be the type with boxes to jot notes in every day.) Get your child to go through the school calendar and schedule and mark all the upcoming tests and exam dates in a bright colored marker. If there are any set projects that they know the due dates of, get them to jot those in too. The calendar should go up on the notice board in clear sight where your child will be able to keep track of what is coming up. As homework assignments and projects are handed out throughout the school year, your child can add them onto the calendar. This way, your child will also know how much work needs to be done, so that he can time-manage.
Teach your child the difference between doing homework and studying – Most children think that doing homework is enough, and that studying is only necessary in the week or two before the exams. This is just not true. While it is possible to get a good mark after a weekend of cramming, more often than not, that information is lost as quickly as it was gained. Sustained study throughout the school year ensures that your child has a firm grasp of the study material and means that they have a better chance of doing well in the exams and retaining the information to use in further studies. Encourage your child to do do things like…
- make his own flashcards to help learn dates, the spelling of new words, formulas or equations etc.
- learn to summarise in his own words
- learn how to write an essay
- take notes as he’s reading a chapter or text
- learn to read (and understand) graphs, tables and charts and know how to study them (for plenty of table and graph resourses click here (teachervision.com) )
Teach your child how to take notes – Note-taking is a critical skill, and one that should be developed. Many children try to write down what their teacher is saying word for word, and end up missing out. Teaching your child the basics will give her a better chance of getting all the information that she needs, and will eliminate a lot of frustration. Remind your child that notes may need to be re-written – if they were jotted down hurriedly or untidily, and that that is fine. Re-writing notes can be a fantastic way to revise material while it’s still fresh in your mind.
Be encouraging in the run-up to a test or exam – Test-taking can be a stressful, even traumatic experience for some students. Speaking to your child, and giving them a few encouraging words of advice can go a long way to calm those nerves. Remind them to read through the entire paper quickly before they start, and to leave any questions that they are not sure of for last. They can come back to those if they have time. The best advice you can give you child id to do there best to be well prepared, then just take a deep breathe, relax and just do their best. Panicking is not going to help.
Know when to step in and help, and when to hold back – Sometimes, our kids really do need a little help. Having someone to practice their Spanish with (if you speak a few words too) or call difficult spelling words or maths sums can be a great help, but having Mom or Dad ‘doing’ the work for them is counterproductive. Don’t let your child miss out on the opportunity to learn something new for themselves just to make things go a little faster. If they do it themselves, they’re going to remember what they learnt!
Stay up to date with your child’s progress – To avoid any sudden and stressful situations, try stay up to date with your child’s progress. Ask questions like ‘ How did your history test go?’, ad stay in contact with your child’s teacher if possible. An email every couple of weeks just to find out how things are going is not out of line. It will help you know when and where you need to to provide your child with support or extra help, and can help prevent a situation reaching crisis point before it gets there.
Good study habits take time to develop, but can serve your child well through life! Do you have any extra study tips to share with us?
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