Most of us have fallen into the homework trap. It’s 5 pm on Sunday evening and your child confesses that he/she has a math test on Monday morning that he/she hasn’t studied for yet. Sound familiar? If not, this blog post is not for you. For the rest of you (like me - we just had this experience and don’t want to repeat it) – here’s some advice.
We all know that our brains aren’t made for cramming for 4 hours the night before a big test. That we need to learn things in bite-size chunks and revisit the same material to ensure we really commit it to memory.
How can we parents change our child’s learning experience for the better and gain back some family harmony? I decided to do some research and here are five things parents can do to help their child establish excellent study skills.
Get organized for study time
Designate a specific area in your house for study and homework where you have eliminated as many distractions as possible. Make sure you have all the tools you need to complete the homework, be it pens, pencils, scissors, glue, notepads, paper, or whatever else is needed.
Manage your study time
Get a calendar and sit down with your child to plan out the week ahead. Write down all after-school activities, dinners and social occasions. Plan into that schedule the time assigned for studying and completing homework assignments. Help your child to start studying for tests and assignments well in advance. That way you can break down the work in bite-size chunks. Also allow for levels of concentration. A Grade 1 student, for example, is at most able to concentrate for 15 minutes, so work in 5-minute breaks in your planning.
You’ll want to explore how your child learns to determine how they learn best. Once you know how your child learns best, create a system of studying that suit your child the best.
Your attitude towards studying matters, as do rewards and praise
Our attitudes towards our environment rub off on our children and it’s no different for studying. If we consider learning a positive experience and make study-time the highest priority then our children will do too. Easier said than done – I hear you. Staying engaged does help. Quiz your child for tests. Help your child to work through difficult problems by being persistent and then praising them once they’ve worked it out. Encourage study groups with peers.
You know your child best, so you know what level of support they need. However, all children like to receive praise and rewards for a job well done - just a little hint.
Teach your child to study
And last but not least, learning to study does not come naturally. It’s something that needs to be taught. When assigning time to completing homework, set aside some time to learn essential study skills, such as:
- take notes when he/she is reading a chapter,
- learn to skim materials,
- learn to study charts and tables,
- learn to summarize what they’ve learned,
- learn to make his/her own flashcards,
- learn to review notes they’ve taken,
- learn to highlight important information.
Excellent study skills set your children up for success. They develop a positive attitude about themselves and they feel confident and competent. They’ll take these skills and apply them through the rest of the lives as they graduate high school, college/university and careers as adults.