3 Steps to School Success
How to help your children form good study habits.
It’s easy, when the children are younger to help them with their work because as adults, we usually know all the answers (or at least know how to quickly find them.) Hey, I admit, I have used a calculator once or twice to check my daughter’s math homework! The best way to really help them, however, is to teach them how to learn. Good study habits are so important, and the earlier children develop them, the better.
#1. Learn Time Management
Let’s face it, there are never enough hours in a day. Kid’s get busy just like adults do. Long hours at school can be hard enough, but when you start adding all the extra-curricular activities into the mix, it can seem impossible for a kid to find time to study and do homework. As a parent, it can be difficult to find time to help your child study when you must drive them to and from their activities while still doing all your household chores.
This is where planning and scheduling becomes a necessity for you as the parent and for your child to learn. Start by scheduling a time for each activity that needs to be done. Studying should be planned during times when you and your child are less likely to be tired or distracted.
Teach your children to prioritize their work. Explain the importance of not putting the harder stuff off until later. My daughter currently gets a homework packet on Monday to complete throughout the week. I have noticed that she will work on it a bit here and there and then on Thursday, she will come to me asking for help on all the questions she found most difficult. This usually leads to both of us becoming frustrated and looking for an easy way out. The best thing to do is help your child learn to figure out the most important thing he or she must do each day and do it. Then they will move on to the second most important task, and so on.
Another good technique is to break up bigger projects into smaller ones. Children need to learn how to set realistic goals. Completing each small goal will help strengthen your child’s study skills and increase his or her confidence in the subject, which will make completing each additional goal even easier!
#2. Utilizing an Effective Study Technique
Now that you and your child have scheduled study time, the next step is to figure out the best way to use that time. First, make sure that there is a designated study space. The study space must be free of distractions. I know I did it myself as a child and my children try to do it to but studying in front of the television is not good! If you have a space in your home that can be used for studying only, that is even better. If all your child does in this area is study, they will eventually learn to associate that area with studying, and this will make it even easier to study there.
Teach your child to use an active approach when studying. Not everybody can read something and remember all of it afterwards. In fact, I bet many of us have read an entire chapter in a textbook and immediately afterwards realized we remember almost nothing.
My favorite studying method is the SQ3R Method. This is how I went from being a C average student to straight A’s. Once I learned this method, I was amazed at how much easier it was for me to study and retain the information that I learned. To be honest, I was also angry that I had never learned this method in the past. SQ3R stands for: Survey, question, read, recite and review. You can find additional information about the SQ3R method online, but I will cover the basics.
Survey: This means to preview all the information before beginning reading the assigned work. Take a few minutes to quickly skim though and read the headings that separate the sections. Think of the headings as an outline for the material that is being covered. Also, during this step, be sure to take notice of any hints, tips, and information shown in the margins or hyperlinks. Pay attention to any graphs or pictures and then read the summary paragraphs as well as the beginning and end of the chapter or section as those are the ones that give the most important points that are covered.
Question: This is an important step that can be fun for your child as it gives him or her an opportunity to be creative. Have your child go back through the chapter or section of writing and turn any headings or sub-headings into questions. For example, if a heading says, “Effective Study Techniques” turn it into a question that reads, “What are some effective study techniques?”
Read: During this step, your child simply must read though the sections. While reading, her she should look for the answers to their questions. During this part he or she should also keep track of the important information hey find by highlighting, underlining or taking notes.
Recite: Talking about what we learn helps us to understand and remember it much better. Have your child summarize their new-found information by telling you about it or writing about it.
Review: Finally, have your child read back over the notes and highlighted important information. This step will help him or her absorb and memorize valid points.
Learning this method with help your child greatly in retaining information they must read. Another great method to teach your child is active listening. This could possibly be one of the most difficult things to teach your child. My children for instance, never want to listen to a thing I say! However, teaching active listening might be a great way to get your child to not only listen in school, but listen to you as well!
Active listening is simply giving a speaker your full attention and understanding what is being said. When active listening, your child must learn to keep eye contact, not interrupt and ask questions. A good way to practice this skill with your child is to tell him or her a story about your day. While you are telling the story be sure that your child maintains eye contact, does not interrupt you and afterwards asks you questions about the story.
#3. Test Taking Strategies
As we get older, we are required to spend more and more time studying to meet the growing academic demands. Students who fail, typically spend 1/3 the time studying than A-students. That is why a study schedule is extremely important when studying for tests. Cramming for tests is proven to be much less effective as it is tiring, taxes our memory and can increase anxiety over the test which ends up interfering with learning and test performance.
The closer your child comes to taking a test, the better he or she should know the material. Your child should be using the time that he or she would normally spend cramming, to refine his or her knowledge. This is the time to go over notes and any focus questions given in the text for each chapter.
- During the test, your child should remember to use his or her time wisely by; checking progress during the test, answering the questions he or she knows first and the questions worth the most points, skipping the questions he or she does not know first and coming back to them later rather than stressing over them.
- If the test requires an answer in an essay form, it is best to decide on main points before beginning to write and then cover those points with as much detail as possible.
- When taking a multiple-choice test, try to answer the question before reading the answers that are provided. Typically, if the answer is among those listed, it will be the correct answer. It is important however, to review the alternative answers in case one is a better choice.
- Do not hesitate to change an initial answer on a multiple-choice test if another one might instead be correct. Studies show that changing an answer is more likely to result in a wrong answer becoming correct than a correct answer becoming incorrect.
- If one of the answers listed on a multiple-choice test is “all of the above” do not automatically assume that is the correct answer. Review the other answers, if one is wrong then eliminate “all of the above” as well. In the same scenario, if two are correct but the third is unsure, then the “all of the above” option is the best bet.
NOTE: If your child really seems to be struggling in school and no amount of help is working please do not be afraid to talk to the school about setting up an IEP for your child. One of the worst mistakes I ever made with my daughter was waiting. Also, if your child has a hard time reading, be sure to have their eyes checked regularly. We recently found out that one of my children had an eye condition which required corrective lenses. We had no idea as her previous eye appointment had been fine. Once this issue was taken care of, scores went up two letter grades! Who knew vision was so important?
As a kid, I never really got amazing grades. I didn’t know how to study. My mother was extremely intelligent and as much as she tried to help me, it couldn’t sink in. She knew how to do the work, but not how to help me learn it. I always found it amazing when a teacher explained something to me in a way that made it seem easy to learn. For a long time, I wanted to be a teacher just so I could help other children the way my teachers had helped me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was in college, earning my second degree that I found a study method that worked. After that, I managed to get straight A’s!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Cristina Cakes